Yes, I’m finally now finished playing Batman: Arkham Knight. I’m crazy slow and late in playing games. Sue me. But I like to take my time getting to highly acclaimed games and this one was definitely worth the wait.
As usual, everything has gone haywire in Gotham and it’s up to Batman to fix everything. Scarecrow is working on an upgraded fear toxin to plunge the city in an ongoing nightmare. This time, he’s got some help in the Arkham Knight — an opponent with close ties to Batman.
Fortunately, Commissioner Gordon was able to get the city evacuated. All that’s left now are hoods, thugs and lackeys for the crime bosses looking to carve out their turf. That basically means anyone walking around is fair game to get pummeled or get zapped by the Batmobile’s electric shock.
The Arkham Knight’s identity proves a highly engaging mystery for 3/4 of the game. Eventually, the writers start leaving some obvious clues. Given the liberties they’ve taken with other aspects of the source material, there’s plenty of viable candidates. Arkham Knight is filled with familiar faces of Batman’s allies and his eclectic Rogue Gallery. I appreciated that some like Killer Croc, Bane and Mr. Freeze were absent this time to make room for some new additions. It’s fun stumbling across evidence that leads to another rival.
In a first for the series, there’s some sequences where you can work alongside and even briefly play as allies like Nightwing, Catwoman and Robin. I didn’t like the changes with Robin as it didn’t make sense considering Nightwing is around. Another nitpicky questionable decision was having Batman talking to Barbara Gordon without her Oracle avatar.
The specter of The Joker hangs huge over the game. Scarecrow might be the main villain and Arkham Knight gets title billing, but once again Joker takes the spotlight. Killing off Joker in Batman: Arkham City seemed like a bad idea and the developers go out of their way to incorporate him into this final game. It’s a clever workaround and leads to some fantastic jump scares and creepy sequences.
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill voicing Batman and Joker gives Arkham Knight an added measure of credibility. As expected, the graphics on the current gen systems are terrific. Buildings are highly detailed and there’s no real difference between the cut screens and in-game action.
Arkham Knight features a terrific variety in game play. For more aggressive fighters, charging headlong into a slew of criminals is one strategy. Admittedly, it’s way more fun sneaking up from behind them and knocking them out with a silent take down. The Fear Takedown allows Batman to knock out up to five criminals in one sequence, making for an effective strategy.
The game is laid out exactly how you’d imagine a wild night in Gotham to be for Batman. While he’s busy tracking leads on Scarecrow, Two Face is robbing banks. Finish him off and then you’ll hear the screeching of Man-Bat flying in the skylines. And then maybe you decide it’s time to take out some of Arkham Knight’s militia outposts. Most of these side quests aren’t mandatory to complete the game, but they prevent any aspect of the game from getting stale.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Batmobile racing sequences. This is a tank on turbo speed so the handling frequently gets real screwy. Chasing after Firefly or the Arkham Knight’s APCs proved very frustrating. And The Riddler’s racing courses were constant exercises in frustration. Steering the Batmobile through narrow spaces or evading drone detection is nerve rattling. The close quarter shootouts against the Knight’s drones were far more satisfying and encouraged devising better strategies.
To help make crimefighting a little easier, there’s upgrades available for Batman’s armor, weapons and Batmobile. These level up based on your style in beating criminals and defeating bosses. There’s enough missions and random goons to slog through leveling up that by the end point, most of the categories have been sufficiently upgraded.
One frustrating aspect of the game is the lack of guidance. Occasionally, there’s no obvious solution to a puzzle or objective. I like the model of Uncharted, which gives exasperated gamers a heads up on what to do next.
Arkham Knight ends on a cliffhanger whether you collect all the 200+ Riddler trophies or not. For the final act in the Arkham trilogy, I wanted more of a resolution. But while I was in the midst of playing, most of those gripes didn’t matter. This
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
The game is super cheap now. You can grab it for either PS4 or XBox One for $15.
Photo Credit: Rockstar Games