“Gotham, this is your only warning. Abandon the city, for I will unleash your greatest fears.”
Arkham Asylum was a breath of fresh air when in was released in 2009. Featuring a wonderful combat system and a great story, it saw Batman exploring the Asylum and solving puzzles to progess. The combat was smooth and fast and featured some great boss encounters. It was a tight, claustrophobic game. It was the Batman game everybody had been waiting for.
Two years later Rocksteady released the sequel Arkham City. This time Batman roamed a more open world level design. The game was fantastic but it lost some of the atmosphere by getting bigger. Gone were the many indoor locations that gave Arkham Asylum its character. Batman now fought his way around roof tops and through the back alleys of the crime infested locale. However, Rocksteady took some bold story-telling steps in the game and the ending was shocking and emotional in equal doses.
Now Rocksteady returns with Arkham Knight, the final part in their Arkham trilogy. An even bigger and more expansive game than the previous one, and that is the biggest problem with Arkham Knight.
Into the darkness we go..
Story has never been a strong point of the Arkham games, even with help from the acclaimed Batman writer Paul Dini, on the first two games. The worst culprit being Arkham City shoehorning as many villians into the game as possible to the point that it didn’t make sense. Arkham Knight’s story aims it’s bar high and delivers a much darker and personal Batman story this time around. But this is hampered by terrible dialogue and a laughable ‘mystery’ of who the Arkham Knight actually is.
Aside from the main story, Arkham Knight has a lot of things to do. Batman can track down missing firemen, defuse mines, take down watchtowers, track down a serial killer and hunt down villians on the ‘most wanted’ list. The biggest time sink are the collectibles that the Riddler hands out. There are 243 Riddler trophies to be found in the game. Getting a trophy usually involves solving a riddle or puzzle and you need them all to get the ‘full’ ending.
The biggest addition to the game is the Batmobile. A bigger game world allows for the introduction of the iconic vehicle and it looks pretty badass. Handling is good and it only gets a bit wonky when the camera angle changes to show a defeated enemy crashing. The problem with the Batmobile is that it is used in almost every encounter. It’s like Rocksteady didn’t know what to do with it so they jammed it into everything you do. Need to defuse a mine? Only the Batmobile can do that. Oh and while you are doing that why not fight off wave after wave of enemy tanks. Towards the end of the game it seems that every mission is fighting tanks. The Batmobile is even used in puzzle solving which becomes very irritating. Even worse are the ‘stealth’ missions where you can only shoot powerful tanks from behind.
Out with the old in with the…old?
The rest of the gameplay should be familiar to players of the previous games. The key to hand to hand combat is still in the counters and this time around on certain missions Nightwing, Robin and Catwoman can help out. During these missions you can swap between the characters and pull off some pretty cool dual finishing moves. The ‘predator’ takedowns are still present and probably the best way to take on areas with many enemies. Upgrading your gear is almost the same too with only a handful of new abilities.
Whoah! Wait…this game doesn’t sound good..
Don’t worry. Arkham Knight is excellent for most of the time. The combat and puzzles are nothing new but at the end of the day they are fun. The story starts slowly but picks up about half way through with some excellent missions that hark back to the way Arkham Asylum played. It’s best not to delve into the actual story as there would be too many spoilers. It’s best to enjoy it yourself. What I will say is the way Rocksteady use one of the characters is fantastic and is easily one of the best parts of the story. Side quests are also good especially the one where you are tasked with tracking down the Penguin. There is a lot of good in this game. The open world level design is amazing and the sound design too. It’s a shame the addition of the Batmobile and the early storytelling drags it down because Arkham Knight features some of the best moments from the trilogy.
Anything else Master Bruce?
The game also features numerous AR Challenges which keep you involved with the game once you have finished with the campaign. The challenges are split into different catagories such as Combat, Predator and Batmobile Combat. The idea is to get a 3-star rating from the challenge. An example of one of these challenges is get the highest score without being hit once during the combat. 20,000 points will get you the 3-star rating. For PS4 owners, there are a handful of Batmobile racing challenges exclusive to them called ‘Scarecrows Nightmare’.
As the final part of the Arkham trilogy, Arkham Knight is disappointing because of the quality of the previous two titles. However, Arkham Knight is still a great action/adventure game.
For the review, Arkham Knight was played on the PS4 and to 100% game completion.
Batman: Arkham Knight is available now on PS4, XBOX One and PC.