Platform Played: Playstation 4
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: 6/23/2015
There have been no incarnations of Batman that have gotten close to what I experienced in Batman: Arkham Knight. This is Rocksteady’s answer to a question we never knew we needed answered. We continue right after the events of Arkham Asylum, with a dead Joker waiting to be incinerated. With his reign of terror put to an end, there is an open space to control the crime kingdom in Gotham. Right away, we are thrown into the deep, relying on our now two games’ worth of instinctual knowledge of the how everything operates. The Scarecrow has a new, much more powerful toxin he is threatening to release in the entire city if his demands aren’t met. Shortly after being introduced to this toxin, we meet up with Gordon and have a run-in with Poison Ivy. Just your typical night for the Caped Crusader.
All the gadgets we love (and more) are still in the game and will be necessary at one point or another. No, there is still no shark repellent spray, so stop asking. The fighting mechanics are still in place, except they feel even smoother and more fluid than ever. You gotta love the contrast between the brutality of landing every heavy-handed punch on a bad guy, all while you’re jumping and moving around in an almost hypnotizing ballet style.
The best part about the previous games, but this one especially, is that there is a level of intelligence and reasoning it forces you to use. Unlike the films, where Batman is either delivering punches, punchlines, or gadgets, this game makes you utilize Batman’s most important asset: his mind. Aside from Sherlock Holmes, Batman is the only other person referred to as “the world’s greatest detective” and Batman earns it in this game. We are already familiarized with detective mode and having to go into it to solve a crime scene or figure out some problems in our surroundings. Arkham Knight has never been one to make things easy for us, and that is where a little hands-on investigation comes into play. We are told (oftentimes very vaguely) where we should be, but we have to rely on our inner sleuth (and a variety of gadgets) to figure out how to reach our object. I’m not just talking about those pesky Riddler challenges either, but believe me, they are as tough as ever.
Arkham Knight‘s use of the Unreal Engine 3 has yet to be matched by any other game. The integration is seamless, with no noticeable shuttering or staggering in the entire open world. There is no change in quality between normal gameplay and what could be considered their cinematic sequences, blending them together to keep gameplay quality continuous, but more importantly, never taking you out of the game. The dark, dreary gloom that is Gotham engulfs you and sets the mood of despair and terror when it needs to. Of course, Arkham Asylum did this well also, but what makes the feat much more impressive for Arkham Knight is that this world is exponentially bigger than its predecessor.
With the vastly increased amount of ground to cover, Batman will need help more than ever. That is where his greatest game partner, the Batmobile, comes into play. This juggernaut of a vehicle serves two purposes. First, it is a very fast vehicle that helps you get around Gotham City without having to rely on grappling and gliding everywhere. Let’s face it, that would get really tedious in this expanded terrain. Second, it is one of Batman’s most powerful weapons, turning into a tank-like machine at a moments notice. Also, it’s (supposedly) the final Batman game Rocksteady says they will produce, so having a fully operable Batmobile is almost mandatory. The Batmobile isn’t the only playable ally Batman has in this game, because now there are missions you take on with/as partners like Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman.
Even with all the gadgets, combat and impressive graphics, the game would be nothing without its story. I’ve only briefly touched on it earlier, telling you what happens in pretty much the first ten minutes of gameplay. Like a really good film, this game is something worth experiencing and being surprised for. What I will say is that the story is every bit as dark as the previous games. Unraveling the story and figuring out the twists and turns is just another part of the greater whole that is Arkham Knight. All I will tell you is that this story has been building up since the first game, and you will not be disappointed.
So you’ve finished the main story. That doesn’t mean you’re anywhere near done completing the game. All of you extreme completionists have your work cut out for you, because there is so much to unlock with the Riddler challenges alone. My game came with a couple DLCs, and a PS4 exclusive one, so I obviously haven’t even scratched the surface of the game yet. Admittedly, I was upset every time this game’s release was pushed back. All the delays, in my mind, needed to be justified, so when I was finally able to get my hands on the game, it had such high standards to live up to. The wait for the game alone was worth it, and all the added content was just a very pleasant bonus.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the epitome of the true Batman experience. We are unlikely to see another Batman game (or even film for that matter) that gorgeously brings to life the grim gloom of Gotham City with such an impressively constructed game that is as engaging in its cerebral use of puzzles as it is brutal in its power as a fighting game. A famous commissioner once said that Batman’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Well, luckily he was wrong, because Batman: Arkham Knight not only delivered what we deserved and were expecting, but also gave us something we needed, whether we knew it at the time or not.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★★ (9/10 stars)