Batman: Arkham Knight Review

by Fernando Lyons

9/2/2015

Batman: Arkham Knight is the fourth and final installment in the Batman: Arkham video game series.  In this game, Scarecrow and his minions have reemerged to terrorize Gotham City.  This time, he is assisted by a mysterious and deadly new antagonist, known as the Arkham Knight.  Batman must not only stop Scarecrow from detonating a bomb and releasing a potent fear toxin upon the citizens of Gotham City, but he must also unravel the mystery surrounding the Arkham Knight.  

 

As a self-professed comic book geek, I am very familiar with this game's source material.  While the video game storyline is not Batman cannon (I am not counting the Arkham Knight line of comics, based on the video game), or based on the current New 52 Batman series, the game's story will feel quite familiar to Batman fans.  The Arkham Knight story takes bits and pieces from existing Batman stories and sprinkle them into this game.  Batman fans will feel right at home in this world.  Even casual video game players, that are less familiar with the Batman character, will find that Batman: Arkham Knight contains one of the most engaging stories in a video game.  The story is dramatic, intelligent, full of intensity, and carries strong emotion throughout.  The Arkham Knight character is very familiar with Batman, and seems to know very intimate details about him, including his secret identity.  The Arkham Knight fully utilizes this inside information to his advantage to gain a physical and psychological edge over, and stay one step ahead of Batman.  If you have followed the Batman comic book series over the past few years, you will quickly put two-and-two together to determine the identity of the Arkham Knight.  For everyone else, you have to pay attention to clues presented by the Joker.  Yes, the Joker (voice by Luke Skywalker....I mean Mark Hamil) died in the previous installment, Arkham City, but his "ghost"  (if you will) returns in Arkham Knight to plague Batman throughout the game.  The way that the Joker was used in this game to psychologically antagonize Batman was pure creative genius.  When he first appears, it will scare the socks off you, so consider yourself warned.  The Man-Bat makes an even more startling appearance, which I guarantee, you will not be ready for.  This game features a good number of other villains from Batman's rogue gallery, including The Riddler, The Penguin, Firefly, Two-Face, and a fan favorite that will appear to replace the Arkham Knight when he is defeated.  Fortunately, Batman is assisted by other members of the Bat Family along the way.  Knightwing, Robin, and Catwoman all lend a hand at points throughout the game.  

 

The world has expanded in each installment of this series, and Batman:  Arkham Knight has more of an open world feel than any of the other games in the series.  Crime and violence is running rampant through the streets of Gotham City, and there are plenty of things for Batman and his friends to do to restore order.  In addition to the primary mission, players are able to choose from several different side missions in this game.  As missions are completed other missions or sub-missions may be spawned.  In the comic books, Batman is known as the 'world's greatest detective,' so mysteries and puzzles are essential elements to a good Batman game.  As in previous installments, players will have to solve puzzles at some points to progress, and use detective mode to uncover story clues.  The puzzles in this game are both challenging and fun, and engage the players to the point they they really start to feel like they are the world's greatest detective.  There is a load of bonus content, including character skins, other playable characters, additional missions, etc., that either becomes available as you complete missions, or is available via download.  Players who decide to complete all of the missions, and collect all of the Riddler trophies, can get months of enjoyment out of this game.

 

Using the grapple gun to glide along the rooftops of Gotham City is as fun as ever, however, players gain a new way to travel throughout the city in this game.  For the first time in the series, players finally get to drive the Batmobile!  Not only do players get to drive around the city, but the Batmobile is equipped with a battle mode, which allows for vehicular combat.  This provides a very fun and welcome gameplay element to this game, however, I will admit that the controls in battle mode can be a little quirky, take some getting used to, and may result in some unnecessary deaths.  The fighting mechanics have been tightened up and improved in this installment, however, there were instances, when taking on multiple attackers, when Batman will either disengage from a larger opponent you want to focus on, or attack the wrong opponent, which can be a little frustrating.  That being, said, these are minor complaints that do very little to detract from excellent gameplay additions.  

 

The Batman: Arkham series have always contained excellent graphics, and this latest installment is the most visually appealing of the bunch.  This game utilizes the Unreal Engine, and looks spectacular on the Playstation 4.  The character design is excellent, and the environment contain a lot of visual polish, but perhaps the true visual brilliance can be witnessed in the smaller details, like wear and tear to Batman's costume, damage to the Batmobile, or moisture reflecting off Batman's cape as he glides through the beautiful Gotham skyline.  There is literally so much to take in, that a second play through of some levels may be warranted just to see what you missed the first time through.      

 

Batman, is definitely the biggest game in the Batman: Arkham series, and a possible Game of the Year contender.  This is an excellent conclusion to the series, so if you have completed the previous games in the series, then picking this one up is a no-brainer.  Even if you are not a Batman fan, you will find plenty to enjoy in this game.  From the story, to the gameplay variety, to the excellent graphics, this is not a game to be missed.  

 Bottom Line:

+Great Story, Great Gameplay, Improved Mechanics, Drivable Batmobile, Great Graphics, & Bonus Content 

-Quirky Batmobile Battle Mode Controls