BATMAN – ARKHAM KNIGHT
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Platform: Xbox One
Availability: Xbox One, PS4, Windows
Batman Arkham Knight, possibly the final game in Rocksteady’s amazing trilogy, once again brings Batman out for one long night. The main villains this time around are Scarecrow (again), threatening to release his Fear gas across the whole city, and the Arkham Knight, a new villain, who is trying to take out Batman with his not-so-small army of tanks and drones.
Some of the series’ standard villains return: Poison Ivy, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, and Harley Quinn. Some of the lesser, side-mission villains include: Firefly, Man-Bat, Deathstroke, Professor Pyg, Deacon Blackfire, and Hush.
The game takes place in Gotham City, and on Halloween, one year after the death of the Joker. Scarecrow has made threats against the city. He’s planning on releasing his Fear toxin by means of explosive devices littered around town. The city has since been evacuated, and all that’s left is the bad guys.
After a brief boss battle with Scarecrow early on, Batman finds himself trapped, trying to disable the Fear gas bombs in an enclosed chamber. He does this, knowingly risking his own health, and against the better judgment of dear ol’ Alfred. As a result of this event, Batman has directly exposed himself to the Scarecrow’s Fear toxin, and for the remainder of the game we now have our long-lost friend The Joker, in our brain. The story is that the Joker, before he died, injected Batman (and a few others) with his own blood. This, combined with the Scarecrow Fear toxins, has fully revived the Joker, but only in Batman’s head. This is the best part of the game. When continuing along with the rest of the story, it seems that whenever you turn around, Joker is waiting for you, and talking away. You can turn and face the other way, and he’ll follow.
The idea and technology behind this mechanic is awesome, as the Joker always seems to appear out of nowhere, and more than once startled me with his presence.
Like the previous Arkham games, the city is wide open. In this version of Gotham, the city is split into 3 islands. By wing, you can coast and fly to each one, but you’ll have to progress through the story to lower the bridges, so that the Batmobile can follow. As well, the story progression will see you come up against the main supervillains and the Arkham Knight himself, but there are plenty of other side missions to complete along the way. Each mission requiring a certain number of completed tasks before coming up against that specific side boss directly. With Firefly, you’ll need to extinguish burning buildings and rescue firefighters, Two-face is robbing banks, Penguin has bomb stashes that need to be destroyed, etc.
The Gotham City Police Department building plays a bigger role in this game as well. You’ll find yourself driving here a lot to meet with the Commissioner or other story characters. The interesting, and very cool part of this building is whenever you enter, you first have to walk through the convict holding cells, and as the night progress, watch them slowly fill up with the villains you capture. It’s just the nice little touches that Rocksteady adds to the game that make it amazing.
The Riddler is always around, this time with 250+ trophies littered around. Additionally, this time, he’s captured Catwoman, and you need to complete a number of races involving the Batmobile, and fight off waves of enemies to save her life.
This brings me to the two big additions to the game: the Batmobile, and Co-op fights.
The Batmobile is the best addition to the series. Bar none. This game was exclusively released for the next gen consoles, and PC in mind, with an upgraded engine and visuals. The map is big enough to justify the Batmobile, and it’s a blast to drive. It’s beefy, and can drive through walls or pillars, so when speeding down the seedy Gotham streets, not much will stop you. It can be called to your location on a whim, and it is spectacular to watch it drift into view, filling the game camera, highlighting the intricacies and sheer detail of the design as Batman leaps in. Furthermore, Batman can eject himself out of the seat and into full speed wing mode. The Batmobile has a tether cable to hold on to contextual object, or pull down walls or pull itself up walls, and it has a dual function Tank mode. In Tank mode, it can drive in any direction and has beefy artillery with a 360 degree view. The Arkham Knight has an army of tanks at his disposal, so throughout the game, you’ll find yourself in these wars, completely outnumbered, but luckily not out-gunned. The Batmobile can also be controlled remotely, when within range, guns and all.
The second big addition to the series is the co-op combat fighting. Throughout the game you’ll be paired up with Robin, Nightwing, or Catwoman, to fight again a large group, or multiple waves of enemies. Both heroes are fighting simultaneously and it’s incredible to watch it play out so seamlessly. But, at any time, you can switch perspective to the other hero, and take full control as them. This also allows for two-on-one beat downs or co-op maneuver. You almost feel sorry for the bad guys at the end of the fight, as the moves are so perfectly brutal.
Rocksteady has done an amazing job of seeing this Batman trilogy through to a satisfying conclusion. This final effort is a beautiful game, and nearly perfect in every aspect. The standard villains are there sure, but this time around, some new faces get a shot in the spotlight. The addition of Harley Quinn as a main player in the story is also a huge boon for me, and the mind-job the Joker causes during the playthrough is still memorable.
As far as Batman games go, I don’t think this one can be topped.
–Good for those that like all things Batman, Bats, Punching Bad Guys and Tanks
Achievement department has the standard affair: story related, completing all the necessary tasks for each side villain, collect the Joker trophies (nope!), AR challenges, and Tank battles. Nothing truly memorable though.
The Real Deal (Takedown 20 moving cars without using the Batmobile) – 5G