Developed by Rocksteady Studios
Published by Warner Brothers
I’m intentionally leaving this review as spoiler free as possible. There are too many moments in this game that I think you should experience for yourself without some reviewer ruining the story for you. Enjoy
After months of anticipation and set-backs by Rocksteady, I’ve finally got my hands on a game I’ve been waiting for since I first saw those credits rolling on Arkham City. (Sorry Origins, you were fun and all, but Rocksteady just KNOWS how to make a Batman game…) Before I get started with this review I should preface a couple of things for you guys. I’m an avid Batnerd. I’ve always gravitated towards the character and he’s always been a huge part of my life ever since I can really remember in some capacity. I also think the Arkham games are one of the best depictions of the Dark Knight I’ve personally ever seen; even if they aren’t canon.
Arkham Knight reintroduces us to The Scarecrow as our main villain. He’s obviously salty at the way things ended in Arkham Asylum (easily some of the best encounters in gaming by the way) and he’s back to exact his vengeance on Batman. He doesn’t just want to mentally and emotionally break the Bat. He’s also enlisted the help of the mysterious Arkham Knight. AK has rallied a HUGE army to fight Batman and the GCPD. He’s also somehow raised the funds to amass a powerful drone army to patrol the streets of Gotham. It’s easy to say folks…Gotham is at war and Batman is on the front lines by himself and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The rollercoaster of a story in Arkham Knight is nothing short of breathtaking. There were more than a couple of moments left me stunned. Rocksteady has always made it obvious that they’ve done their homework before stepping into Gotham and this has never been more evident than with AK. When it was all said and done and I’d finished the main storyline, I felt as emotionally taxed as I’ve ever felt playing a game or even reading one of the comics. Every moment, every decision, and every consequence holds so much weight that you are almost immediately drawn in unable to escape from it. When Scarecrow is involved there’s no telling what’s real and what isn’t; Arkham Knight is far from exempt to this rule. I loved his sequences in Arkham Asylum. Aside from the Joker he was the star in that game and he’s the perfect antagonist in Rocksteady’s swan song. While you’re constantly reminded of the grip he has on Gotham, there’s no telling who else will make an appearance. The classics are all there; Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, and the others are all causing their own brands of trouble, but it’s the surprise appearances that really shine for me in this game. Every little Easter egg and every villain, no matter how obscure, has been etched into Batman lore making the Arkham trilogy something that can be put up next to the likes of The Dark Knight Returns, Hush, or even the Nolan trilogy. The only nit-picky gripe I had involving the story was that I had deduced the identity of the Arkham Knight within a few minutes of meeting him. The casual fan may be left in suspense but anyone that’s decently versed in the Batman universe should be able to tell who he is before the big reveal. It was still extremely well done and I enjoyed it; I was just hoping for a bit more suspense when his identity was revealed.
Rocksteady revolutionized open world combat when Arkham Asylum was released. When it comes to the combat, “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” can easily be applied to Arkham City and Arkham Knight. Every punch is bone-crunching and the combat is as smooth as butter. New take-downs and environmental animations improved on the already terrific system that Rocksteady had in place from the very first game. They’ve changed up Predator Mode a bit too. It’s no longer easy to just swing from point to point picking off enemies. Some of the encounters don’t even have a gargoyle or vantage point to hang from. It’s a nice change a pace and a decent challenge to a mode that needed some freshening up.
Now on to Rocksteady’s big, new feature: the Batmobile. Good God this thing looks incredible! When you’re driving it around you really feel like the Batman. This thing is armed to the teeth with cannons, missles, and even machine guns. (Rubber bullets, I promise) Even as badass as it looks though, there were parts that Rocksteady made the classic developer mistake of shoehorning this new feature into moments that would have been better off without it. It wasn’t all bad though. Once you got the hang of the controls it was actually pretty enjoyable though some of the drone encounters were a bit repetitive in the beginning but they really put you through hell in the later fights.
Even though Gotham is huge, I found myself using the grapnel boost and gliding all over the city instead of driving around in the car. As great as it is, I just feel more like the Caped Crusader with my cape spread out gliding through the night.
I also enjoyed the inclusion of the Bat-family. You get the chance to finally control Nightwing, Tim Drake as Robin, and once again, Catwoman. The addition of these characters to the game felt much more natural than Catwoman being involved in Arkham City. Instead of taking full control of them to patrol the city they’re involved in fight sequences with their own move sets. There’s also the addition of tandem take-downs involving them and Batman in some pretty sweet knockouts.
I honestly don’t think there’s much to say about the graphics for this game other than WOW! Playing it on the Playstation 4 it was immediately evident why it was only made for next-gen and *cringe* PC. (Sorry PC users, I know you had a LOT of trouble playing this game. I hope they fix it soon for you guys!) Gotham is stuck in what seems like a constant rain throughout the game. Every surface, including Batman’s cape, shines in the night. It may be the most beautiful game on a console that I’ve ever seen. Rocksteady has truly and finally brought Gotham to life…8 year old me’s mind would be BLOWN right now.
We’ve also been given an improved Batsuit. As much as the love the classic iterations of the cape and cowl, this is the most practical version I think I’ve ever seen. It looks like a suit of armor and it honestly has to be; Batman is ready for war.
I’m overwhelmed with this game. The DAY it was announced I rushed to my local GameStop to pre-order it. (I also got a sweet Batman 75 poster with my pre-order at the time.) It seemed like it took forever for it to release as it was pushed back on multiple occasions. It was worth the wait! I spent well over 100 hours in Arkham City and I see myself surpassing that with Arkahm Knight. Not just because it’s bigger, but because I don’t want to miss a single detail or Easter egg mischievously placed by Rocksteady in the hidden corners of Gotham for us to enjoy. I also couldn’t be happier with Kevin Conroy and company coming back for the finale of the Arkham Saga. No disrespect to the cast of Origins, but the cast of this game defines Gotham for me. Conroy delivers his classic, “I am vengeance, I am the night, I AM BATMAN” line at a climatic point towards the end of the story that further proved that he’s the only man suited for the job of voicing the Dark Knight; anyone else doing it just never seems to fit in my mind.
When it was all said and done and I’d finished the main story, (I still have yet to find all of the Riddler trophies and have a couple of side missions left) there wasn’t a part of this story that I didn’t love. The story was as gripping and suspenseful as any movie or book you could ever ready and as a whole it was more satisfying than any game I’ve ever played. I feel bad for the PC users that got a broken port of the game that’s unplayable but I have to urge you to be patient; this game is worth the wait. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in this universe and I’m sad to see it go, but I’m ultimately glad that I’ve been involved with it since the beginning. The Arkham Saga is a story that people will talk about for years to come…not only for proving that you can indeed make a classic Batman game but proving you can make a great one that depicts everything that’s made the character a legend in popular culture.
A RESOUNDING 5 out of 5 nerds