Batman: Arkham Knight. Released along with controversy regarding DLC, expensive Season Passes and a cancelled Batmobile edition just days before launch: is this a satisfying conclusion to the Arkham trilogy we deserve, or is it not the ending that we need right now?
For the most part this game falls somewhere in between.
Arkham Knight is set some time after the events of Arkham City. Crime rates have dropped, people are safer to go about their lives and there is a sense of normality returned to Gotham. Normality however is short-lived as Scarecrow has come to throw fear and chaos into the mix and bring Gotham to its knees. Now it’s up to Batman to once again bring those who wish to ruin this city to justice, for one last time. The main story arc is one I can champion but also find fault with. For the most part this story had me on the edge of my proverbial seat, I found Scarecrow to be immensely terrifying and intimidating like I never imagines I ever would; a trademark this series does so well with each outing. As soon as Scarecrow hits the scene, he does so in a big way forcing a mass evacuation of Gotham city, now held hostage, the streets fill with criminals. There’s an upside, now Batman can bring out the beastly Batmobile without recourse. I’ll get to the Batmobile later.
Without spoiling too much, Scarecrow always feels just out of your reach the entire game, you never truly fight him one on one, however I didn’t miss that. His presence alone instilled such a great tone of dread and darkness which was enough for him to feel a worthy villain. Your interaction with Oracle and Commissioner Gordon adds yet another layer to the overarching narrative, one of family and doing what you need to do to save them. No matter the cost. You will often cross paths with Tim Drake, Robin and Dick Grayson, Nightwing and much to Bruce Wayne’s reluctance, he eventually accepts their help. Again to avoid spoilers Batman is also challenged mentally by another force for which to overcome, adding yet another complex layer that presents some of the strongest moments in the game.
For all the praise I can give this story, I have only two main gripes. The main one being the reveal of just who the Arkham Knight really is. The story tries to lay out a number of misdirections on who it could be but they are too frequent and in your face that it also gives it away early game. The other is too much focus on tank battles for story missions. There are portions of the story mode where you are forced to endure lengthy tank battles, some infuriatingly replacing boss battles, that it just feels too out of place and breaks the pacing of the game. If you can look past those negatives the game’s third act brings us a masterful introspective, and also a retrospective of what Batman is and needs to be for Gotham and his loved ones. You truly have to experience that for yourself to understand. If you also achieve the 100% game completion you unlock the true ending of the game which at first I found to be a complete cop-out but after thinking about it I have grown to love. Look out for my article on explaining the ending and my theory behind it.
Oooooh. So close!
The Arkham games have changed so much in the action adventure genre for the better part of a decade and many games are still mimicking its combat to this day. Rocksteady have improved on everything in almost every way. Combat is still as free flowing as ever but so much more satisfying. This simple combat system is so easy to enjoy yet so difficult to master its nuance. You can now perform environmental take downs and my new favourite ability, the multiple fear take downs. Predator mode is still intense and I found myself wanting to take my time more to plan out an attack as there are so many enemy variations that you actually need to prep the arena before entering to ensure a victory. It makes for an even more gratifying experience.
Who took this photo?!
One of my favourite features makes a return, actually doing detective work. Scanning crime scenes and formulating an account of events using your Detective Mode in your Bat-Cowl is as enjoyable as ever watching the clues unfold before you. There’s just enough of it in this game that I’m glad they put it in. Now for the Batmobile. Love it or hate it, it was the most natural progression to eventuate in this series and for the most part executed brilliantly. Driving around Gotham requires somewhat of a learning curve but an hour or so in and you’re cruising like a pro. Careening around Gotham is such a thrilling experience that I found myself just wanting to explore Gotham and break-kneck speeds quite a bit. The flip-side is when forced into tank mode for some portions of the games challenges it feels very out of place and often breaking down to tedium. However if the Arkham Knight brought an armada of tanks to Gotham, it only makes sense Batman bring one as well. I feel the tank missions could have been reduced but the way the Batmobile is used remotely in missions was handled amazingly and I loved those moments.
This game is simply stunning to watch unfold before you. Rocksteady have created my favourite iteration of the Batman mythos and Gotham of the course of these games. From the way the moon light casts over the cityscapes, the way the rain patterns change in the wind, the gritty textures of the Batmobile, all the subtle battle damage Batman sustains over the course of this long night. It is a visual spectacle and one of the best looking games I’ve played this generation. Enough said.
So Bat-tastically pretty!
Batman Arkham Knight gives us closure to, in my opinion, the best Batman trilogy in all media. The ending is satisfying enough that it makes you think more about it after the fact but still leaves you wanting. The game plays better than it ever has and refines all aspects to near perfection. If you want to truly feel like Batman, then this is the right game to play.
Chunt says buy this game, tell your friends Chunt sent you.