The Arkham series has consistently delivered the most authentic, fun Batman experience available to gamers. Rocksteady’s Arkham games are a bright spot in the AAA gaming world, having consistently delivered high quality, innovative ideas, and plenty of thug-punching. The final entry in the Rocksteady trilogy – Batman: Arkham Knight – came out this week. Let’s take a look at how it stacks up in my Arkham Knight review.
This being the third (or fourth, depending on if you count the non-Rocksteady Arkham Origins) game in the series, Arkham Knight wastes no time throwing you into the action. Batman doesn’t start out having lost all his gear and abilities for whatever reason. He’s already got a significant compliment of stuff that took hours to earn in previous titles, and it’s presented without comment. Arkham Knight assumes that by now you know what Explosive Gel does and how to use it.
Instead of dwelling on the gameplay of the past, Arkham Knight instead focuses on introducing new tricks to Batman’s repertoire. One of the earliest plot missions unlocks 5 new tricks, including a new multi-takedown option that requires stealth kills to use – much like recent Splinter Cell titles.
Pro Tip Advance the plot early – there are a lot of gadgets and gear that you’ll only get from completing plot missions, and all of the side missions can wait. They actually get easier as you go along – sometimes you’ll be up against a challenge you just can’t beat without specialized gear.
Grand Theft Batman
Chief among these new changes, though, is the Batmobile. Arkham Knight’s Batmobile is similar to the Nolan Batman “tumbler” model, in that it’s basically a sports car crossed with a tank. The Arkham Knight Batmobile has some new tricks up its sleeve, though. It can instantly switch between “pursuit” mode and “battle” mode. Battle mode makes the vehicle into a four-wheeled tank, complete with cannons and machine guns, while trading raw speed for nimble strafing and dodging.
Pro Tip The weaker “Rattler” tanks can be taken out by shooting the machine gun into the bright spot on their turrets. The game considers this either “critical” or “perfect” depending on how many shots it took you to hit the spot. This is important for unlocking certain AR challenges and achievements, but the game doesn’t really explain it well.
The pursuit mode, meanwhile, adds a new way to get around town, and that’s good because Gotham has never been bigger. New grapnel boost abilities make Batman’s standard glide traversal even faster, though. It’s not like you have to pick between the two, as switching from Batmobile to gliding couldn’t be easier. One button calls the Batmobile, and Batman swoops to catch it. Once inside, you can launch Batman out of the ejector seat to immediately start a high-speed glide.
Environmental puzzles have always been a staple of the Arkham series, and Arkham Knight throws the Batmobile into this mix as well. The Batmobile can pull objects, move elevators, shoot targets, pull itself up walls, and jump ramps to get where it needs to go.
Pro Tip One of the side missions tasks you with clearing militia checkpoints on the roads. If you see a large gun in the checkpoint that can only be destroyed with the Batmobile, that means you can shoot or jump the Batmobile into the checkpoint.
Pow! Thwack! Biff!
The Arkham series single-handedly redefined what hand-to-hand combat in video games should be like. Arkham Knight continues to raise the bar with new abilities and enemy moves, while building on what has come before in the series.
For the first time, Batman has allies and can tag team in combat. Switching between characters is straightforward, and team combo attacks can insta-KO enemies. Team combat doesn’t come up a lot, but it does feel super awesome when it does.
Pro Tip If you can get the drop on enemies before combat starts, use the Disruptor to booby trap their gear, or you can use Fear multi-takedowns to even the odds right from the start.
There are a million little things I could praise about this game – Arkham Knight is polished to a glossy shine. The animations are stunningly good, especially Alfred’s face via the gauntlet communicator. It still impresses me every time I see it, despite it being such a simple thing. Likewise, the voice acting is top notch.
The detective mode crime reproductions are still damn fun to play, and are still my favorite portrayal of Batman as the World’s Greatest Detective. As per usual, a set of secondary supervillians have escaped, and are running rampant over the streets of Gotham. Each one has a distinct MO, and has to be tracked and confronted in a slightly different way.
Pro Tip Many of the side missions will task you with tracking down certain things in Gotham – firefighters, for instance. As the plot progresses, eventually waypoints will be added to the mission select screen. Also, destroying the flying drones will let the police helicopters roam the city, and they will sometimes point out items of interest to your side cases.
RIP PC Port
It’s a real shame that the PC version was released in the state it is in. I have a pretty mid-to-high end gaming rig, and it really chugs on sequences in Gotham, whether it’s flying around or riding in the Batmobile. I’m sure this will be patched, but the response from Rocksteady and WB is unprecedented. They’ve pulled the game and are offering refunds. I’m not planning on taking them up on it, though, and I knew I was taking this chance when I preordered. Still, like I said, it’s a shame.
|Batman: Arkham Knight|
The Arkham series has always been about letting you be Batman. If played well, you feel like you are the Dark Knight. When you screw up, you know it’s you – Batman can do this, you just need to get to the point where you can. Arkham Knight gives us a truly “next gen” Batman to play with. New tricks, new toys, and new challenges to overcome. This would be a 5-star rating and serious game-of-the-year material, if not for the PC fiasco.