Be Vengeance. Be the Night. Be the Batman.
Batman: Arkham Knight is a 2015 action-adventure video game based on the DC Comics superhero, Batman. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It is the fourth instalment in the Batman Arkham series, with Rocksteady once again returning as the core developer after handling off duties to Warner Bros. Games Montréal for 2013’s Batman: Arkham Origins. The player assumes the role of Batman for the majority of the game with emphasis on Batman’s combat, stealth and detective abilities.
Is It Worth?
The original developers of the Batman Arkham series return to deliver a grand finale to their tale. Why won’t you want to play this?
A little about the Gameplay
Batman: Arkham Knight is set one year after the events of Batman: Arkham City. If you had explored every nook and corner of Arkham City, you may stumbled upon a boat and may have discovered evidence that the Scarecrow is planning something big. Well, in Batman: Arkham Knight, his plan is unleashed.
Set on Halloween night, the game begins with Gotham being evacuated after Scarecrow threatens to release his potent new fear toxin. The only people who stay behind are the criminals, a superstitious and cowardly lot (See what I did there?). Outnumbered and outgunned are the Gotham City Police Department who, in my opinion, are way too cool with a vigilante’s presence in their city. I mean, I get it that they need Batman’s help, or more precisely his tank, in taking out the mysterious Arkham Knight’s ridiculously jacked militia but seeing all the police officers so chill around Batman feels a bit off.
Batman: Arkham Knight offers a much larger world to the player than that in the previous games. Gotham is divided into three islands: Bleake Island, which features buildings, disheveled areas, and abandoned docks; Founders Island, a modern establishment of skyscrapers built on the ruins of Gotham slums; and Miagani Island, an older metropolis with Wayne Tower at its center. The complete map is accessible from the get go with the game providing enough opportunities to explore the city and the side missions. In fact, the story offers breaks, encouraging the player to go complete the side quests. That is, after completing a certain mission in the main story, Oracle or Alfred will point out other locations where Batman is needed. Now the player may select his next mission: continue with the main story or go exploring.
Batman’s toys return. From the get-go, the player has complete access to the classic Batarang (basically a boomerang to stun enemies), the remote controlled Batarang (completely steerable even after the throw), the Batclaw (a grappling device that can be used to interact with remote objects such as vent covers or to grab enemies), smoke pellets (used to disorient opponents and assist with stealth tactics), the line launcher (used to traverse horizontal spans), explosive gels (which may be used on weak walls and floors, and can be remotely detonated — sending rubble crashing onto an enemy), and the Batmobile remote (that allows you to remotely control the Batmobile, enabling you to effectively be at two places at once).
As you progress through the main story, the game offers additional gadgets such as the Remote Hacking Device (used to override security panels, open new paths, or blind drones temporarily), the Disruptor (is able to remotely disable guns and explosive mines), a Remote Electric Charge (REC) gun (that can stun enemies and temporarily power motors), a Voice Synthesizer (that may be used to mimic the voice of level boss and con henchmen into opening security doors or simply order them around to the player’s benefit).
That’s not a gun, don’t worry.
Rocksteady takes a page out of Warner Bros. Games Montréal’s book and enables the “Detective Mode” to completely reconstruct a crime scene à la Batman: Arkham Origins.
After completing the story mode on normal or hard difficulties, a “New Game Plus” mode is unlocked, enabling the player to replay the game with all of the gadgets, experience, and abilities that they have attained; enemies are tougher and the on-screen icon that warns players of imminent attacks is disabled.
A lot of characters other than Batman are playable in some form or the other during the course of the game. These include Nightwing, Robin, Catwoman, Azrael, and if you count the DLCs, Harley Quinn, Red Hood, Batgirl.
1: I’ll be honest with you, when Paul Dini first announced that he won’t be writing the next Arkham game, I had my doubts. Not only does having a veteran Batman writer like Dini steer the ship bring a vote of confidence, his legacy on the Batman Arkham games is undeniable. Fortunately, writers Sefton Hill, Ian Ball and Martin Lancaster are able to deliver on the promise of the grand finale to Rocksteady’s Batman saga.
2: The voice acting is as fantastic as ever. Rocksteady got John Noble to voice the Scarecrow and his unsettling monotone performance makes this the eeriest version of Scarecrow yet. Kevin Conroy continues to be the definitive Batman, while Mark Hamill returns for some dark but hilarious posthumous Joker lines.
3: I have read how the developers wanted to integrate the Batmobile since the beginning of the series but were unable to do so due to technical issues. Well, on Batman: Arkham Knight, they are finally able to do it.
The Batmobile handles as it should: the game puts you in complete control of this massive tank, but one that handles like a sports car. There is virtually nothing that can stop this juggernaut; pavements, barricades, pillars crumble to dust in its wake.
The Batmobile is fitted with a 60mm canon, vulcan guns, and can launch missiles, but as the game would repeatedly remind you, Batman does not kill, so the Batmobile automatically switches to non-lethal rounds when firing on humans.
I’m going to redecorate…
4: The open world structure of the game offers a lot more to do than the previous entries in the series. I have already mentioned how the game itself encourages the player to take on different side quests.
The side missions themselves are a lot rewarding and offer a lot of variety, from missions that focus on the crime solving capabilities of Batman to those that require Batman to team up with Nightwing or Catwoman.
5: Gotham is richly detailed. Certain areas on the map stand out in particular. Chinatown, for example, with its neon lights is a joy to glide around in. Everybody has already pointed out the excellent cape textures, which reminded me of the cancelled Batman: Gotham by Gaslight game, but what stood out for me were the little things like light reflecting off the wet streets or raindrops crashing on to a puddle in the streets.
6: Combat is improved and polished even further. For a game that focused a lot on combat, Batman: Arkham Origins did in fact improve on that mechanism so as to empower the player enough to take on enemies that could counter your moves and your counters. Rocksteady seem to have taken note of that. Batman: Arkham Knight also features enemies that ask for a lot more than simply pressing the strike button.
A nice new addition is the medic henchmen, who will revive any opponent you may have knocked out while taking on a group. Therefore, taking out this medic henchmen becomes your priority, otherwise you are letting yourself get caught in an endless cycle.
7: The game also lets you team up with an AI-controlled Nightwing, Robin or Catwoman, and use them to execute awesome dual-takedown moves that knock out your enemies instantly and then switch control between the characters. It doesn’t add much mechanically, but fighting side-by-side with a sidekick is a very Batman thing to do.
1: There is no way else to put it but this: Too much Batmobile, Rocksteady.
As fun as the Batmobile is, its novelty wears off quickly. After you have raced it down the streets, launched missiles on drones, bent structures to your will using its power winch, fired off your vulcun gun on criminals out on the streets, there’s actually nothing else to it. You’ll soon start to shun it, even as mode of transportation. Gliding is still the fastest way to get around Gotham City, especially with the improved grappling hook.
The developers probably realised this, which is why the game almost forces the Batmobile on you. The entire third act of the game involves usage of the Batmobile, putting you in one tank battle after other. These tank battles are new and fun the first time around, but soon you get sick of this Takeshi’s Castle shit.
2: One of the major quibble gamers had with the previous entries in the Batman Arkham series were the gimmicky boss fights. In order to take out pretty much every boss in those games, you were required to follow the on-screen instructions, duck, and repeat. Batman: Arkham Knight avoids falling in that trap, but at the expense of offering almost no boss fights. I get it, nothing is better than something broken when it comes to video games, but when the game does not offer a one-to-one with the main antagonist, you do feel a little duped.
3: The DLCs, especially the Harley Quinn and Red Hood story packs, are awfully short. I breezed through the Red Hood one is about 10-15 minutes. That should give you the idea.
4: Perhaps it was because I played the game so late, but I did not come across any major glitch or bug during the gameplay. I did noticed a few framedrops and the game would occasionally (read: rarely) slug about when I would take a sharp turn in the Batmobile. However, the technical issues the Windows version of the game has had have definitely left a dent on the game’s and the series’ legacy. When a company puts out a product so broken that it has to call it back, you know they messed up.
5: Rocksteady marketed Arkham Knight as an original character so well that most of us believed them. Perhaps we wanted him to be? Sadly, any regular reader of the comics or anyone accustomed with the Batman lore will be able to guess Arkham Knight’s identity half way through the game, subduing the impact of the big twist.
I think I know you, dude.
Batman: Arkham Knight is an impressive game. With its excellent gameplay variety, detailed open world, fantastic visuals, strong performances, Rocksteady manages to finish off their Batman saga in grand style.
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