Review – Batman: Arkham Knight
Rocksteady Studios walks away from their first massive hit with the release of Batman: Arkham Knight – the last in a trilogy of games starring the DC Comics hero (dating back to 2009’s Arkham Asylum) – but leaves gamers with their finest work to date. A handful of relatively minor issues keep this from being the perfect sendoff, but it’s still the best Batman game – and best comic-based game overall – that’s ever graced a home console.
Let’s get the issues out of the way right now, chief among them being the Batmobile. It’s not that Rocksteady didn’t do a great job with the look of Batman’s iconic ride, but the car-related gameplay is a bit on the thin side. Sideswiping bodyguard cars while shooting missiles at the ‘boss’ vehicle might be fun once, but it’s less fun after having to do it a dozen times. The same goes for missions where you’re called on to clear out unmanned tanks from the streets, using the Batmobile’s alternate ‘tank’ mode. It’s fun once or twice, but the fourth or fifth time that Alfred lets you know the enemy has released more drone tanks into the city…
Fortunately the rest of the game makes up for those small miscues, with the twist-filled plot going a long ways towards making amends all by itself. The Scarecrow is back, forcing Gotham to be evacuated with a plan to release a new fear toxin, which proves to be just part of a much larger plan to take down Batman. Several villains make appearances, including the game’s titular character, the all-new Arkham Knight – a Batman-like character whose real identity is unknown at the outset of the game. It seems the Knight has organized a Knightfall-like takedown of Batman, wearing him out with repeated crimes until he’s primed for elimination – and gamers will love the ride to the end.
The gameplay remains relatively unchanged from past Batman games, though combat has once again been streamlined with some new gadgets or uses for existing gadgets. The Caped Crusader also gets a helping hand at times, whether that’s from team-up attacks during certain missions or when fighting near the Batmobile – which can fire off a stun round to take out targets Batman has distracted or otherwise disadvantaged. Even enemies get new abilities, including a charging takedown (that can be foiled with a single Batarang toss) and the addition of Medic units that will get downed foes back into the fray if you’re not careful. The Riddler returns, bringing his puzzles and challenges (243 in all) back to the city, so gamers can look forward to hours of finding and figuring those out.