Have you ever wondered how on earth Batman manages to keep the bad guys alive? I never really wondered this previously, as a highly trained agent of the League of Shadows with an unlimited budget should probably be able to incapacitate his opponents with no real problems. But how on earth do you keep your opponent alive when you are driving a Tank?
Batman Arkham Knight is the fourth instalment in the Arkham series, and the third developed by Rocksteady studios. Fans of the Warner Brothers published Arkham series will quickly feel at home, with its ever familiar combat system, stealth mechanics and mission structure. The decision to commit purely to next generation systems has enabled Rocksteady to expand their vision much further than its previous ventures. Gotham is bigger than ever, with an incredibly impressive amount of gameplay and a well-balanced city layout to serve your preferred mode of transport, be it gliding high above the city or blasting your way across town in the Batmobile.
The first hint at an overall plot during the introduction seems thin, to say the least. Scarecrow is threatening to release a toxin across all of Gotham city, and the entire population is evacuated. It’s up to you to find him. Yadda, yadda, yadda, right? Thankfully the plot moves on quickly, with a roughly 12 hour main storyline committed to the rich and detailed history each villain, or ally, shares with our Dark Knight.
I find it disingenuous to simply state 12 hours however, as there is an incredibly large amount of sub missions, collectables and replay value provided. I’ve grown accustomed to deviating from the status quo rather quickly with open world style gameplay, so I find myself drifting in and out of the initial 3 to 4 hours of storyline. Thankfully this provides its own rewards, as each sub-mission or collection task provides incentification through a large skill tree progression. Arkham Knight’s, Gotham is apparently five times larger than Arkham City, so you will not be short of tasks to perform.
You’ll have plenty of characters along the way to interact with as well. The voice acting in this game is excellent, with additions from Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks and The Fringe’s John Noble. I could listen to John Noble read a dictionary, his nuanced, understated adaption of The Scarecrow character provided a refreshing and tense character. Quite frankly, he’s a joy to listen to.
Gotham looks beautiful too. It’s the biggest we’ve seen it in the Arkham Series and a lot of work has obviously been put into rewarding your transport style. The streets have been given room to breathe to allow for the new Batmobile, a first for the series. The Batmobile has a great sense of urgency and the chase sequences are great fun. It’s a welcome addition and the ability to seamlessly launch yourself into a glide from the cockpit seat is awesome.
Where this new addition falters however, is the combat elements of the Batmobile. The Batmobile has the ability to turn into a literal tank, with multiple cannon and machine gun weaponry to choose from.
Unfortunately this highlights two issues. Firstly, the core combat mechanism with the Batmobile Tank is drone tank combat. This slows the gameplay right down, and does not feel very ‘Batman’ at all.
Secondly, introducing the ability to drive a death machine on wheels creates some amusing situations. Batman, as we all know, doesn’t kill people. This is a simple concept in theory, but very hard to fathom when you’re rolling in a machine that would put most artillery squads to shame. The use of such mechanisms also detracts from the core elements of what makes the Arkham combat so great.
The combat system for hand to hand and stealth remains the same, thankfully. There are new devices and new combo/sequences to use, and the new addition of multi-fear takedowns are extremely satisfying. Arkham fans will simply continue where they left off with previous titles, and the ability to string together long, fluid combinations is easily picked up by all.
Batman: Arkham Knight is an extremely rewarding finale to the Arkham legacy. Its plot, while thin at first, expands well and serves as a great finale to the many, varied relationships with Bruce Wayne. The missions are fun, the voice acting is great, the larger map is a joy to navigate. The game is marred only slightly by the combat elements of the new Batmobile. Just don’t think about how anyone survives being run over by it.
- Excellent Voice Acting
- Great Map
- Brilliant Combat/Stealth Mechanics
- Batmobile Combat Slows Down Gameplay