Well it’s finally here. After four years since the critically acclaimed Batman Arkham City came out, fans have been eagerly awaiting the end to what has been referred to as the Arkham Trilogy. Arkham Knight was originally slated for an October 2014 release date but was pushed back a whole eight months to June 2nd, 2015 and then three more weeks to June 23rd, 2015. After all the wait, all the hype, and all to excitement, does Batman Arkham Knight live up to all of it? It is safe to say…yes.
Batman Arkham Knight is the third and final installment in the Batman Arkham series by Rocksteady and WB Games. In the game you take over the role of Batman and take down Gotham’s most wanted with brutality and fear. Arkham Knight takes place nine months after the events of Arkham City and the city of Gotham is doing just fine. With the death of the Joker, crime rates have fallen and the people of Gotham City feel safe. That is, however, abruptly ended when the villainous Scarecrow launches a chemical attack on the city with his new and improved Fear Toxin. Scarecrow threatens the city of Gotham that he will release his toxin across the city and gives everyone 24 hours to leave the city. All of the citizens leave except the criminals who love the chaos, the police sworn to protect the city at any cost and of course the Batman.
That’s about all I’m going to say about the plot without spoiling anything, but I do have to say that while this is a fantastic send off and overall story, it just isn’t as grand and thrill seeking as the story from Arkham City and is pretty straightforward with a few plot twists and OMG moments that are still good.
In this game we get to see the return of famous Batman villains from the first two games like Two-Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn and the Riddler along with some lesser known villains like Pyg and Firefly. Along with all of these villains we get a completely new villain created just for this game known as the Arkham Knight. The Arkham Knight is a great addition to the story as he is hell bent on seeing Batman dead for the share a past that Batman does not know. We mainly see the Arkham Knight and Scarecrow with a majority of the side missions focusing on the other villains which is kind of a letdown as the game was advertised as all of the villains banning together to bring down Batman, but sort of just do their own things that don’t pertain to the main story.
Now, with all of these villains, Batman is going to need to some help and luckily he has backup with Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman (yes, she is an ally in this game). A new feature introduced in this game involving these allies are the ability to switch between them in a fight by either pressing the switch character button or stylistic dual takedown to flawlessly switch characters while taking down some bad guys in the process. Other allies in the game include Commissioner Gordon and his daughter Barbra/Oracle. These allies however are not playable.
The voice acting in this game is outstanding with Batman being voiced by the talented Kevin Conroy, who has been voicing Batman for over 20 years across different media and even Mark Hamill returning as the Joker for cameo appearances. This time around Rocksteady has looked to Hollywood for some of the characters in this game with Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) as Commissioner Jim Gordon, Ashley Greene (The Twilight Saga) as Barbara Gordon/Oracle and John Noble (Fringe, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King) as Scarecrow. This game was actually some of these actors first time doing voiceover work for a video game and you can see that. Not to say they do a bad job, they are actually quite good bringing these characters to life, but some of Commissioner Gordon’s and Barbara Gordon’s dialogue sounds like they read it straight from the page and don’t show much emotion which is hard for actors who don’t depend on just their voice to convey characters. The rest of the cast is phenomenal and does a great job of fleshing out these characters especially the Arkham Knight and Penguin.
Here’s where the Arkham Knight truly shines because the Arkham series is known for its Freeflow combat and predator systems in the game. For those unfamiliar, the Freeflow combat is the combat to build up combos. The higher the combo, the faster Batman will fight and be able to use brutal takedowns on enemy thugs. The combat system in the game has not only been improved, but perfected. You really feel like Batman with how fast and fluid the combat is and really makes you feel like a threat to these thugs.
The other side to the gameplay is the Predator system in which Batman must use stealth to take down bigger and tougher groups of enemies. The Predator system isn’t as impressive in this one because most of the stealth areas are outside rather than inside like the other games. The problem with this is if you get caught, you could just leave the area for a couple of seconds and come back instead of trying to find a place to hide. The enemies are also usually more spread out, which makes taking them down one by one a lot easier, but if you can get enough enemies near each other you can use the new mechanic, the Fear Takedown. The Fear Takedown allows you to take out an enemy and then stop time and move from enemy to enemy taking them down swiftly and brutally. However, you can only takedown between four to five guys with this then need to take out enemies silently to build the fear back up.
A new addition to this gameplay is the Batmobile. This Batmobile is one of the coolest and most indestructible Batmobiles I have ever seen across all the Batman movies, shows and video games. It’s fast, it’s indestructible and just all around fun to drive. I spent like a half hour one time just driving the thing around Gotham. Batman uses the Batmobile to not only get around Gotham, but to fight off the Arkham Knight’s drone tank army that patrols and terrorizes the streets by turning into a tank itself. At first, I thought this would make the Batmobile too overpowering, but it really doesn’t because you could be surrounded by these drones on the streets and take a more defensive approach rather than an offensive. Overall, I really enjoyed driving the Batmobile.
In typical Batman Arkham fashion, the game has both a story mode and multiple side quests. I use the term quest instead of missions because the missions are not just one mission and that part is over. Instead, they are almost like their own little story arcs in the game with about five different story arcs each relating to a different villain. These side quests are very entertaining and each involve different playstyles. For example, the Two Face robberies require stealth, but there is an alarm going off, so Batman can be loud when taking enemies out until they start to get really scared.
The coolest, yet most annoying, side quest is the Riddler’s Revenge. In this side quest, you must solve all the riddles and find all the Riddler trophies throughout Gotham. Some of these trophies are hidden in secret rooms or need a puzzle to be solved in order to retrieve the trophy. It’s fun and satisfying whenever you find a trophy or solve a riddle, but there are just so many of them, 243 to be exact, that it just becomes tedious to find them all, and you need to find them all if you want the ending to the game. That’s right, if you want the ending to the game, not a better ending or the “good” ending, the actual end to the game you need to complete the story and completely save Gotham by bringing in all of these villains. I have not yet done it since I still have about a hundred riddles to solve in the game.
Batman Arkham Knight is a thrilling and eventful ending to the Arkham Trilogy that really catches the authentic Batman feel and really puts you in the boots of the Caped Crusader. While it may have its faults with the story and lack of other playable characters in the challenge maps, it is still a fantastic and outstanding end to Rocksteady’s take on the Batman. I highly recommend you pick it up on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
I’m giving Batman Arkham Knight a 9/10.
By: Sam Hennigh