In the third, (technically forth, but we won’t count Arkham Origins) and final installment in the series, Rocksteady delivers one of the best superhero games to date. The plot of Arkham Knight follows months after the events of Arkham City. Scarecrow mass produces his fancy fear toxin and plans to use it over the entire city of Gotham. Oh no! What about all the civilians? Well, see, here’s the thing: Scarecrow only wants to go after the Batman, knowing that if he took care of him nothing else would stand in his way. With everyone heeding Scarecrow’s warning, Gotham is evacuated, leaving only Batman, his allies, the GCPD, and all of the villains and their thugs left in Gotham.
So, Batman, check. Abandoned Gotham City, check. Mostly everyone left is a bad guy, check. Oh, and don’t forget the batmobile. This is going to be fun. I did my best to avoid spoilers, and since it’s almost impossible to not talk about them throughout the review, there is a spoiler section towards the end, which I strongly suggest you avoid if you haven’t played Arkham City, or Knight.
Arkham Knight utilizes all of what has made the Arkham series so critically acclaimed. Freeflow combat returns, in arguably one of the best combat mechanics ever invented. Every aspect of combat has been enhanced, Bats can counter up to three enemies at once, and use his gadgets in the midst of combat.
The environment also plays a big part in combat, you can throw an enemy against an electric fence, or slam them into a pipe. The combat is almost flawless and simple enough for you not to get frustrated. As long as you can ignore the baddies with shields just waiting to ruin your 40 hit combo, and ignore the fact that Batman travels insanely long distances when mashing the attack button aimed towards another enemy.
The stealth combat system is also its best yet, and the game introduces a Fear Multi-Takedown, which allows you to instantly knock out a couple enemies at once. In stealth mode, sneaking around enemies in an area knocking them out without detection certainly takes some thought, and detective mode can be a pain in the butt sometimes. But that is what has made the Arkham series so glorious, instead of controlling Batman, you ARE Batman, every single thing he does, you do.
Arkham Knight one-ups the previous games by doing what the other two did, but better. It wasn’t broke, so they didn’t fix it, but nobody said they wouldn’t masterfully tweak it to perfection. One of the best things about Arkham Knight is sometimes it wants you to know it’s a comic book video game, and other times it wants you to feel like you’re watching a movie.
Now let’s talk Batmobile. The Arkham series introduces it in the final game, and rightfully so. It feels like a mix of Burnout and Twisted Metal, sometimes you race, while wrecking everything, and sometimes you just wreck everything. I’ll admit, the batmobile isn’t a gamechanger, but it’s there, and it’s a lot of fun.
The batmobile has two modes, one is the standard driving mode, and the other is battle mode, which can be instantly triggered with a button. Taking down enemy vehicles is the main reason for battle mode. However, I’ve spent a lot more time in battle mode than I have in driving mode. Not to say you spend most of your time shooting things, although that is kinda true. The controls take a bit getting used to, since it isn’t a standard racing game control. I just found that some things were easier to do in Battle mode, like backing up, and turning tight corners. You also have to sort of limit yourself using the batmobile when getting from point A to B, a lot of the environment that the developers spilled blood, sweat, and tears on, can be tarnished since you’re spending time on the streets instead of gliding around the skies.
The game has a lot of extra content, including those darned Riddler Trophies. (Which I’m not a fan of myself, but hey, if they keep putting them in, that means people like them.) Even after completing the story mode, I was only finished with about 40% of the game, and that also included a couple of hours I used for the side missions. That’s where a bunch of characters not included in the main storyline come in, so if you’re bummed you didn’t see Villain X or Y, or Ally X or Y. Don’t worry, that’s probably where you’ll find them. No promises though.
The story is overall great, with many jaw dropping moments, and multiple conflicts with multiple villains, including an inner conflict that Batman has to deal with in the midst of all this. One of the major problems the game has, is this, who is the main villain here? Sure, Scarecrow just threatened the entire city, and sure, the game’s title is based off of a brand new villain dubbed the Arkham Knight, but there is so much involving a lot of characters, that you often have to remind yourself who it is you’re really after.
Another issue I had with the game is well, the titular character. The Arkham Knight isn’t exactly one of those diabolical villains. All he really wants is revenge on Batman, for whatever reason. It’s kind of outrageous that one person would go to such lengths to exact revenge on Batman, he has an army of what seems like infinite tanks, and a bunch of militia men. That could just be me nitpicking, in what is otherwise an excellent video game.
SPOILERS AHEAD, PLEASE SKIP IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED ARKHAM CITY AS WELL.
One of the best parts of this game, and my absolute favorite is the internal struggle Batman has. And by that, I mean the Joker. You knew he had to be in the game one way or another, and Rocksteady has done an absolutely perfect job implementing him without hitting you with a “Oh he actually didn’t die” plot twist. Joker is in Batman’s conscience, talking to him after plenty of scenes, whether in a comedic light, or a dark one. The fact that the Joker is technically dead, but that this game brings out the best of Joker, is amazing. As you delve deeper into the story, Batman struggles harder and harder with the internal conflict, and the Batman vs. Joker feud is the best in this series. If you are knowledgeable about Batman lore, you will probably figure out who the Arkham Knight is towards the middle of the story. I had mixed feelings over it, it wasn’t really a jaw dropping reveal, but it did make me think about who it could’ve been before I found out.