Step forward Batman, take a bow, it has been a good run but we all know your adventures were bound to come to an end sometime. Just think, you are going out on a high note that matches the high quality of the rest of your games, so don’t be afraid step into the light and prepare for your final curtain call.
Batman has had quite the game experience, single handedly he has proven just how good superhero games can be, and how a licensed property can make a truly great game. With the Batman’s latest adventure Rocksteady has pulled out all the stops to ensure Batman had the best farewell he could get, and has delivered The Dark Knight the best game yet.
It is going to be another long night for Batman, the streets of Gotham have been abandoned, citizens have fled and some of Batman’s greatest enemies have all planned to attack on this one night. After the death of the Joker a wave of peace has spread over Gotham, but in one night peace is ruined as Scarecrow and a who’s-who of Gotham’s most wanted terrorize Gotham.
This time around Scarecrow leads the charge of the story. He has whipped up a brand new batch of fear toxin and is setting it loose in Gotham, and as you expect the only one who can stop him is Batman. Scarecrow is not alone however as he has teamed up with a brand new villain in Gotham, The Arkham Knight who seems to have a score to settle with Batman, and remains a constant nuisance throughout the game.
The Arkham Knight was an interesting new addition to the series particularly as a somewhat original character, throughout the game many questions are posed by this character that actually made me think. He seemed to have history with Batman and knew a whole lot about his methods, this actually kept things interesting for a while as gameplay wise the Knight’s influence affected fights. However it really came down to the mystery with this character that kept the story truly interesting. Being perfectly honest I had a theory half way through as to the characters identity, later on I was actually proven right, in the end the real mystery of the game fizzled out pretty early for me which was disappointing but never really ruined the experience.
On this night Batman has a whole lot deal with and faces some of the series most famous enemies. As you expect Penguin is up to no good, The Riddler wants revenge and to prove he is the smartest, and Firefly is out to burn Gotham to the ground. Much of the things to do with other villains around Gotham is simply side content with their stories acting as distractions of sorts to the greater threat, meanwhile making for some enjoyable stories to get caught up in. Before I had even finished the story I had already got wrapped up in dealing with Riddler, stopped penguin and even put a decent dent in stopping Arkham Knight’s control over Gotham.
Arkham Knight has delivered quite a reasonable overhaul to the games since the last instalment, this is not the same Gotham we visited in Origins or the similar location we visited in Arkham City. Gotham looks and feels exactly how I always imagined it should, the city is huge and featured many of the places long time Batman fans wanted to see. The Batcave was sadly absent in this game but in its place we got to visit places such as Wayne Tower and Ace Chemicals which were great to see.
But better still was the sheer scale, Gotham City is built across three islands, each great in design and amazing to explore. This of course also gave room for Rocksteady to deliver a feature we have long been waiting for, Arkham Knight does not have you just gliding along the Gotham skyline (which of course is still an option), and instead you can now drive around in the Batmobile. If I am being honest I was originally sceptical of this, after the previous two games I never originally felt like the Batmobile works as it didn’t feel like Batman, the way I knew him from previous games. This concern did fade over time however and I actually quite fond of the Batmobile, except in selected moments.
One of the Batmobiles key features is the battle mode where the car transforms into a tank, I didn’t mind this feature at least when the game began, it sadly grew tiresome later on. The battle mode is used mostly to handle enemy drones commonly in the form of tanks, but this is where the game sees its most annoying problem. Tanks appear far too often and commonly appeared more than human enemies, the repetition in this enemy type was frustrating and quickly became dull. This type of enemy regularly turned up as part of the side missions and commonly as part of the story.
However, outside of this I did actually find the Batmobile to be quite an interesting tool. The Batmobile adds an interesting new dynamic to Batman’s classic gameplay and adds some fun new ideas to the game. Batman’s car is a key part of some of the classic puzzle solving which has allowed the developers to come up with a new range of ideas. As an example in an early section of the game you have to use the Batmobiles winch feature to lower a broken elevator so Batman can get to a lower level. I found this idea to often be quite simple in what I was asked to do, but it made for a great new idea that kept things engaging while doing specific sections.
The Batmobile also made for an interesting as well as hilarious part of the gameplay, if the car was nearby I could use it as part of combat and fighting enemies. On the whole it was a feature I rarely used but the Batmobile allowed for some easy takedowns when Batman would throw an enemy and the car would instantly subdue them. It was a nice and handy feature that I was happy was there to help in specific sections.
Arkham Knight returns Batman in all his glory featuring many of the classic gadgets we have come to love and rely on, iconic ones such as batarangs as well as smoke pellets make a triumphant return and I couldn’t be happier. But I was also pretty happy with a series of new gadgets at our disposal this time around, the thing with being Batman is you expect to play with his toys and use them to your advantage, and many were great for this reason. One of my favorite new gadgets at my disposal was the voice sympathizer, this gadget could be used to order enemies around in the voice of their boss, which was something I found was fun and handy for luring enemies into a spot where I could take them down.
One of my favorite things about this entry was the evolution of combat, while the general combat is the same perfect dance as previous games, in selected moments combat saw a fun change that changed things up for the better. At specific sections in the game you were given the chance to team up with another character, these being Catwoman, Nightwing and Robin, each one having their own specific fighting style. During these fights you could switch between characters at will and even perform team takedowns, these fights made for some nice change from the more cautious playstyle I had adopted in many other cases and proved to be quite fun. I was just saddened by the knowledge that these sections were very few and far between and personally would have liked more of these in the game.
Speaking of combat I previously mentioned the Arkham Knights influence in combat situations. Enemies honestly felt smarter in Arkham Knight then any of the previous games, attempting to take enemies out using stealth was not entirely simple and this was a good thing. While it would be easy to just jump in and beat enemies up, these situations became more methodical as taking out one enemy would cause The Arkham Knight to order his men to stay in groups making it harder to pick off enemies. It was quite enjoyable having to carefully watch my targets and look for any opening where I can swoop down and take out an enemy.
Though when it came to taking down enemies there was a new tactic which I found was great to use and worked well in tough situations. A new takedown was introduced in Arkham Knight called the fear takedown, with this you could take down a selected number of enemies in quick succession. This is a new feature I truly found helpful, in tougher situations I could use it to sneak around then quickly wipe out a handful of targets then often move off. It was a nice and helpful feature that I think made for some interesting new strategies.
Another thing I was quite fond of was the use of Batman’s detective skills which I believe have improved over Origins. Between the main story and the side content there is plenty of moments that call for Batman’s keen eye, one of my favorites was doing footage analysis. In what feels like true Batman detective work, I was thrilled with getting to analyze security camera footage and look for specific details, in what is a very action focused game these moments that required careful analysis were a thrill and truly showed that Batman is a great detective. Along with this scene analysis is also a key part of the game, from looking at bodies for defining features to investigating a car crash, these were fun moments and played in well with the game.
Batman Arkham Knight is the definitive Batman experience, while I have an issue with one or two ideas used, Rocksteady has sent Batman off on the highest of notes. The developers have built a great story, the perfect Gotham and given me at least all the things I wanted to see in the Batman games and even things I didn’t know I wanted. I bid Batman a fond farewell with the knowledge that he has provided what I believe is the best game in the entire franchise.