Are you ready to be the Batman?
Nine months have passed since the Arkham City incident, and in the aftermath of that adventure’s conclusion, Gotham City has achieved a relative peace. When Scarecrow unleashes a fear gas attack in a diner, promising one big enough for the whole city, the people evacuate, leaving the police alone in the city with all the criminals who have begun to riot on Halloween night. Batman is ready to bring down Scarecrow, except that the master of fear has a fearsome new ally: the Arkham Knight, a mysterious figure that seems to know all of the Dark Knight’s methods and secrets, and is leading a massive army in an invasion of the city. Now, Batman must try to save everything and everyone he cares about, while dealing with the greatest gauntlet of enemies he’s ever faced in what may be his final adventure.
Rocksteady have really stepped up their game this time, giving us a Gotham City five times bigger than Arkham City, filled with so much detail. It’s almost daunting seeing it all from the top of a tall building, seeing all the activity. There’s so much to do, from car chases in your new Batmobile, investigating a serial killer’s trail, taking part in the Riddler’s machinations, as well as the main story. The identity of the Arkham Knight will not surprise die-hard Batman fans, but it’s still fun, and the early twist which I refuse to spoil adds a new element to Batman and the story.
Graphically, the game is astonishing, with the characters looking eerily like real people, and the detail of individual raindrops dripping down Batman’s suit is impressive. At one point, I was stunned when I saw how after driving through certain muddy areas, the Batmobile was caked in mud along its bottom. Likewise, the music and voice-work is astounding, as Kevin Conroy continues to be THE voice of Batman, and John Noble is a welcome addition as the new voice of Scarecrow, bringing a methodical creepiness to the villain. And then there’s a surprise vocal performance that I will not spoil, but it’s very welcome to the game.
Gameplay-wise, it’s like they rebuilt the Arkham games to give even more of the Batman fantasy. Once you get your new costume early in the game, you get access to your new tricks, like the Fear Takedown (which allows you to go from stealth to take out multiple enemies) and your new combat moves that allow you to keep a combo going even if a foe is stunned on the ground. The new situations you’ll encounter really make you feel like the Dark Knight as you react as he would. And then there’s the Batmobile, which has been integrated as part of your gadget collection and can be used in so many situations, both in transport and against foes. The chase missions are really fun, but I do find that the tank battles you engage in over the course of the game at times frustrating. Not only do they feel a bit out of place in a Batman game in spite of the city-wide invasion, but they take a bit of time to get used to once they start. In fact, the majority of my deaths in the game were during tank battle missions.
Also this has to be said: even when you complete the game’s main story, the game doesn’t end until you complete a certain amount of the side-missions. Completing all the side-missions (including finding all the Riddler stuff) will net you the full ending. And while that makes sense as incentive to make you see more of what the game has to offer, it ends up being frustrating if you’re determined to get the full ending and are having problems, especially on the Riddler trophies and puzzles, which given how big the city is in this game, will definitely take up most of your time.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the conclusion of this epic series, and it definitely goes out with a bang. This may be the biggest showcase of what the new generation of games can do, and is definitely the ultimate Dark Knight gaming experience. Whether you’re a long time fan of the Batman or not, this game has something for everyone.