The final chapter in Rocksteady’s Arkham series is finally upon us. Being a huge fan of the Dark Knight and this series as a whole, it was really bittersweet to conclude an overall strong franchise. While some mechanics returned and didn’t stray too far from what I have grown used to, this game was a lot of fun to play, despite some frustrations. Arkham Knight is currently available on PS4 and Xbox One with a patched version in the works for PC.
Story wise, Arkham Knight comes to be what you would expect in a Batman game. Scarecrow is holding the city hostage to a tear gas attack and it is up to you to stop him. Along the way comes a very powerful new enemy, the Arkham Knight himself, and a good portion of the game is spent trying to discover his identity. I was initially excited for this portion of the game. The narrative foreshadows way too much at points and allows you to figure it all out a couple of hours before the actual reveal, along with the fact that it is reusing a Batman arc that has already been done. I won’t tell you which one, but if you’ve seen a majority of Batman films, you can guess which one it is. However, this game did reference everything else that has happened in the series and it left with a sense of finality.
When it comes to gameplay, everything is very fluid with the Dark Knight himself. Familiar controls have been refined to be the most controlled combat and exploration in the series, from the free-flowing combat system to the traversal mechanics for getting around Gotham. Several new gameplay mechanics have been added as well, such as the new Fear Takedowns, which, when fully upgraded, allows you to take out five enemies simultaneously. While this may seem overpowered, it is balanced by the fact that it can’t be used again unless a much stealthier approach is taken for the next enemies. It’s also needed, as you’re taking on the largest number of enemies that the franchise has to offer. Varied enemy tactics are added in early as well, such as medics that will bring unconscious enemies back into the fight, forcing you to really focus on who is a priority. For the first time ever, the Batmobile has been added as well. While it controls a bit awkwardly at first, as you have to learn to master both its faster traditional form and its slower tank form for taking out enemy drones. At times it feels that Rocksteady is leaning too heavily on the vehicle though, forcing you to use it for puzzle and even incorporating it into Riddler challenges, which doesn’t feel like it makes a lot of sense at all. This doesn’t stop it from being fun however; it just feels a bit excessive at times.
This game is beautiful as well, really showcasing what this generation of consoles is capable of doing. Small details, such as seeing how rain water drips off of Batman’s armor and cape, never ceased to amaze me. Rioters in the city also have very varied looks as well, which always seemed to be a problem for me in the other games. Character models all look great, from Batman to Scarecrow, who can best be described as frightening. The city of Gotham looks and feels alive as well, with rioters voicing their thoughts about what is happening through the night. As much fun as I had with Arkham Knight, there were a few flaws with it as well. Side missions often felt very repetitive, such as doing the exact same thing three times in order to catch the pyromaniac Firefly or holding a position with the Batmobile and destroying waves of drones while defusing a bomb. The Batmobile is also forced on you in order to do some awkward puzzles for the Riddler or even just racing, which doesn’t seem to fit with his character at all. Lastly, the game does force you to get 100% completion in order to “experience the full ending.” I just don’t like that parts of the ending are withheld.
Overall, Arkham Knight is a fun game with quite a few challenges. Despite having a fairly predictable story and reveal and mild repetitive missions, there’s still a lot here to keep you busy for a few days. That’s without even getting into the Augmented Reality bonus missions as well. The sense of finality is going to have me wanting more Batman, but it likely won’t happen and Rocksteady certainly ended on a high note.
Featured Image courtesy of Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment