In the fourth Arkham entry, Batman faces his greatest threat yet, the super villain Scarecrow has threatened to cover Gotham City in his fear toxin causing a city wide evacuation. Assisting Scarecrow in his schemes is a mysterious militarist leader only known as the Arkham Knight who seems to have a history with the Caped Crusader.
Rocksteady has returned to the Arkham franchise after WB Montreal developed the incredibly disappointing Batman: Arkham Origins. Rocksteady have promised that Arkham Knight will be the end to their story and it's one hell of a way to go out. Batman: Arkham Knight is everything you'd want in a Batman game, the bone crushing combat, detective investigation, driving a Batmobile through the streets of Gotham and an intriguing story with all of your favorite characters.
Many of you probably know that Batman: Arkham Knight was actually due for release late last year and to much chagrin we had to wait and wait for this game. So was it worth the wait?
As a huge fan of both the character of Batman and Rocksteady's Arkham games, I feel pretty sure in saying that Arkham Knight is the best in the series. Great story direction and fantastic gameplay make this a must play for all die hard Batman fans.
Scarecrow has threatened the city of Gotham with a widespread fear toxin attack, the city has been evacuated and the only people left are super villains, thugs, police and the Dark Knight himself. Gotham is almost transformed into some type of war zone, with unmanned and fully armed tanks patrolling the streets of Gotham as well as super villains with their own agendas. Batman: Arkham City introduced players to a more open sandbox and Rocksteady have once again upped themselves by creating a lively, deep and detailed Gotham city in which you can almost fully explore whether that be in the Batmobile or gliding through the rainy night sky.
Joining Scarecrow is a new villain only known as the Arkham Knight, his image almost replicates Batman's own. He's a militarist leader who seems to have a history with the hero and a very big grudge against him. Fans of the animated series and comic books like myself may be able to suss out the identity of the villain quite early on but the game does try to throw you off the scent of the reveal quite often. The story builds and builds up to a very cinematic reveal that should leave fans satisfied.
I must applaud Rocksteady on their story direction here, what first looked like a very generic tale of Batman saving Gotham from an attack turned into a psychologically intriguing game. Scarecrow's fear toxin affects Batman quite early on and a familiar face re-appears to taunt, antagonize and mock the Bat in all of his efforts. This is by far the most personal Batman story in the Arkham franchise, we learn more about his relationships with Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, Commissioner Gordon and Oracle, how his past battles have affected him and what he's willing to do to protect his city.
Gameplay wise, Batman: Arkham Knight is almost flawless. The freeflow combat introduced in Arkham Asylum is perfected here, stringing combos together is incredibly rewarding. The use of Batman's gadgets during conbat feels more necessary here as more enemy types have been introduced.
Rocksteady have finally introduced the Batmobile into gameplay, an element understandably missing from the previous games. The city is large enough for you to fully and expertly control Batman's tank like vehicle which comes equipped with a battle mode which comes into use when the Arkham Knight's unmanned tank forces engage you. A 60mm cannon is useful against unmanned tanks but a machine gun is used to fire rubber bullets at actual criminals, which looks incredibly painful yet sticks to Batman's rule of no killing. Early players of the game reported that the Batmobile felt like it was on rails and would only go in a certain path, but that's not the case here at all. You are in control of the vehicle at all times and you definitely feel that as you rampage your way through much of Gotham's exterior. This new element of gameplay does feel forced upon you early in the game and for a large portion of time playing Arkham Knight you will be in the Batmobile's tank mode fending off militia, but it's not a long time into the game that this vehicle feels less like a car and more like another tool on Batman's belt, it's used to solve puzzles as well as dispatch the Arkham Knight's militia and can become very useful when trying to get from A to B in a moments notice.
Missions in the main story are varied and you'll never find yourself doing the same thing so many times that it becomes boring. The main story has a wide variety of different tasks and there are plenty of side quests to keep you occupied long after the story has been concluded. These side quests however are repetitive. Deathstroke has armed checkpoints that Batman must take down, the Manbat must be injected with a serum a few times, Penguin's weapon cache's need to be destroyed etc. There isn't a lot of variety in these side quests but they can still be enjoyable.
The one huge negative when it comes to missions are the Riddler challenges. In Arkham Asylum, the players knowledge of the game world and the Batman lore was put to the test with many of Edward Nigma's riddles focusing on the characters. But in Arkham Knight the challenges are combat and Batmobile based and they become incredibly tedious incredibly fast.
This game was lacking in boss battles, a very big and exciting aspect of previous games. Arkham Asylum and City featured several boss battles, all varied and specific to the villain you were facing. Scarecrow had fear induced nightmare scenes, Bane was an evade and attack type fight, Mr Freeze was a silent take down focused fight and so on, these felt like they fit in to the world and story of Batman, yet for some reason they're absent from this game.
Graphically the game is beautiful, the rain billowing against Batman's cape as you glide high above the city looks tremendous, the Batmobile crashing through graveyards looks authentic and the character designs are the best in the series. Now and again some glitches will occur, many of them involving the camera angle, but these are few and far between.
As a player of all three previous Arkham games, I felt almost obligated to play this game on the hardest difficulty and surprisingly there was little to no challenge. Of course I failed now and again but when you understand your goals and what you have to do in certain missions, the game is incredibly easy and I was longing for the game to put up more of a fight.
Batman: Arkham Knight is a must play for all Batman fans, the story, characters and gameplay are the best they've ever been in the series and the excellently directed and mentally puzzling finale will leave many of you more than satisfied.
Have you played Batman: Arkham Knight? If so, let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97