Review: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight is the latest installment in the Arkham franchise, coming from Rocksteady Studios. This is the same team that brought us Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Arkham Knight is the final chapter in the story that they’ve been weaving for us since 2009. It is also the first in the series to be created specifically for current-gen systems (PS4, Xbox One, and PC). While the PC version has suffered issues serious enough to put the game back in the studio to fix, the PS4 and Xbox One versions have proven to be an elaborate adventure, putting you in the cape and cowl of the Batman once more. Since there will be some spoilers in this article, I’ll just say it now; this game is awesome, and you should be playing it! Since I have yet to finish the game, this is not a full review. That being said, here are my first impressions of Batman: Arkham Knight.
Arkham Knight begins shortly after the end of Arkham City. For those of you that don’t remember, Joker is dead. This fact is brought up right at the beginning, as you are actually made to light the flame and incinerate the body of The Joker. The big bads of Gotham City have decided to take advantage of this opportunity, and it isn’t too long before mayhem breaks loose, and the Bat Signal illuminates the sky once more.
If you’ve played any of the previous Arkham games, than retuning to the role of Batman will be a sweet pleasure, as all of the mechanics remain the same. Dive bombing off of the perch the first time was truly a “welcome home” scenario for me. That, as beating the crap out of any thug foolish enough to stand in my way.
Making my way further into the game, I was amazed at the ease it was to summon and control the newest addition to the Arkham Universe, the Batmobile. Switching control from Batman to the Batmobile is seamless, fun, and I found myself continually driving, ejecting from the car and soaring over the neon lights of the city skyline, only to click a button and return to the Batmobile to do it all over again. You are not limited to either mode of transportation throughout the game, save for when you’re indoors.
Then there comes the villians. Scarecrow has taken over the city with his fear gas, as one does. He’s also recruited a new guard dog called the Arkham Knight. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s clear that the Arkham Knight and the Batman share a complicated history (I have yet to actually finish the game as of this article). This shared history has caused for a few hickups for our Caped Crusader, but we all know who will prevail. The DC villain train doesn’t stop there, my friends. This game is chock full of baddies: The Riddler, Two Face, Penguin, Poison Ivy, and…wait for it…The Joker! That’s right, the Clown Prince of Crime does make an appearance in Arkham Knight, and in the kind of WTF way that had me cheering on my couch.
As I mentioned before, the combat and traversal of the city’s areas are seamless and enjoyable. This has come to be expected from Rocksteady, who created a terrific fighting mechanic that has needed no update since its inception in Arkham Asylum. This doesn’t mean that they haven’t, though. With the addition of Dual Play fighting, the acrobatic mayhem that you will rain down on your unworthy foes is ridiculous. Teaming up with NPCs like Nightwing, Robin, or Catwoman, you are prompted not only for devastating combo moves, but are also allowed to switch characters in the middle of the action! This also includes the Batmobiles assault cannons, which basically shoot an uppercutted hoodlum in the face. They say the Batman doesn’t kill, but damn if they’ll wish he had.
Also new to the scene is a redesigned upgrade menu. In addition to the usual bazaar of gadgets and suit upgrades for Batman himself, you can also upgrade the Batmobile’s weapon handling and capacity, creating a machine to be feared more than it already is. Everything else does seem pretty standard, but again, that’s not a bad thing. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!
The seamlessness of the game is truly amazing. Being on current gen systems only, Rocksteady was able to create a game that really has no load screens, minus actually getting into the game itself after the initial load. I loved the initial glide over the city, as I headed towards where the Batsignal was lit and landing right into a cut seen with Commissioner Gordon, or flooring it in the Batmobile, only to arrive at my destination with a badass entrance. These types of improvement in gameplay really kept me immersed in the universe I was playing in, reinforcing the belief that I was the Batman.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good pizza. If there’s another thing, it’s a good score and atmospheric audio in a game. Playing Batman: Arkham Knight, I was treated to both (pizza provided by my roommate). The epic musical score that Nick Arundel has brought to the table, once again, is a character of its own, in a way. The dynamics and emotion that it brings to every scene or fight really give the game a life that one will notice if it’s on mute. Which I don’t recommend. Not only should you allow yourself to enjoy What Arundel and composer David Buckley have brought to please your ear holes with, but the voice acting and general banter from the thugs as you hide in the shadows or glide over the city is something that should not be missed. In particular, I’ve loved how some of the street thugs reminisce on their own experiences in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. These small additions really reinforce making this world seem alive.
The monstrous roar of the Batmobile’s engine, the snapping of Batman’s cape in the wind, with whizzing and crackling of weapons being used; I really recommend a good sound system or headphones when playing this game.
As a Batman fan, I cannot recommend this game enough. Since I’ve only played the main game, I can’t speak on the DLCs at this time, but what I’ve found from Rocksteady’s latest endeavor has proven that they, once again, know how to make a damn good Batman game. Become the hero that Gotham deserves, and I’ll see you next time.