Arkham Knight is the fourth installment in the Batman franchise of videogames, though only the third made by creator Rocksteady. This serves as the culmination of their trilogy, while the standalone Arkham Origins was just a fun prequel sidestory. Here, we’re back to our roots. Batman has to step in and save the city, as Scarecrow unveils a plan to release his fear gas onto the entire city. This means that everyone has evacuated, except for the criminals, which is basically a reason for you to fight anyone you run across. All that’s left are the bad guys. You travel the city in the same ways as the past games, such as zipping from point to point and gliding across the skies, but you also get the addition of the Batmobile, which serves as a way to travel, solve puzzles, and do vehicular combat.
The world of Gotham City has always been one of the strong suits, even in the original Arkham Asylum which didn’t really let you explore it. There’s so much mythology to work with and you can tell that these developers are absolute fans. The amount of love and detail that goes into these games are astounding and this game is no exception. You can wonder through Gotham City PD and check out evidence lockers, with weapons and artifacts from famous villains. There are easter eggs everywhere and it’s an absolute joy.
The developers also know that Batman’s rogues gallery is one of the best, if not THE best, in all comic books. The fact that they can fill four games with huge arsenals of villains is a compliment to how fun these villains are. And in Arkham Knight, you get a handful of villains that we’ve encountered already, mixed with some new ones. These games have always made these villain encounters special and usually the more memorable moments in the entire game. Here, I won’t forget seeing Man-Bat for the first time and jumping out of my skin. I won’t forget chasing the pyromaniac Firefly through the city in my Batmobile. While they don’t have traditional boss fights, they are indeed memorable and distinct.
And the game looks absolutely gorgeous. The indoor settings look great but the game really shines when you’re outdoors and you’re flying through the rain to get to your next destination. It just looks stunning.
And as you can see, the combat is still great, including tag team combos where you get to play as characters like Catwoman, Nightwing, or Robin. These are a fun chance of pace and give us a chance to play as them, without buying the DLC. The combat is still intuitive, not super difficult, but the rankings at the end of combat reward you for your skill and variety of moves.
I won’t touch on the story too much, to not spoil anything, in case you haven’t had it ruined yet, but I really liked the story. It’s engaging and interesting, with some great voiceover work by everyone involved.
What doesn’t work?
I’ve listened to a lot of reviews of this game already and the big common denominator is that the Batmobile doesn’t work. Here’s my 2 cents. It drives great and I like using it for puzzles. I even liked the initial tank battles, though the two modes of the Batmobile drive drastically different, which can make transitioning really awkward. But then the game ramps it up and they say, now you need to be stealthy. Now you need to face even more tanks. Now you need to do tricks in a tunnel while you outrun other tanks that can hunt you down wherever you go. It gets absurd. Especially these monotonous sections where you have to quietly sneak up on other tanks… I got really tired of doing that.
I mentioned earlier that I liked most of the boss battles. I was excited when I heard that Deathstroke would be reappearing but as soon as I heard it was a tank battle that was ridiculously hard, I decided it wasn’t worth the journey to get to him. And that’s a shame.
The only other thing that was somewhat of a detractor… You don’t get a true ending unless you complete all of Riddler’s puzzles. There’s no way I’m doing that, so all this does is encourage everyone to head over to YouTube and look it up. That’s exactly what I did, because I wasn’t about to spend that much time and scouring through Wikis to find hundreds of these little Riddler trophies, just to get the real ending. I agree that yes, people should be rewarded, but not like this. Everyone should get the real ending to the game. A bonus ending with Riddler? Sure. I’d get that. Here, just feels like too much.
Arkham Knight is a great game. It’s mechanics are solid, including some great moments of actual detective work by Bruce. The combat is fun and fluid, while the villains are memorable and diverse. The only downside is that the Batmobile is almost overused and a more simple approach might’ve been more beneficial. If you buy Arkham Knight, there’s tons of stuff to do, if you want, but you can also rent it and beat it in a weekend or two if you really just focus on the story missions. Either way, if you’re a fan of Batman, this game should clearly be on your list to play.