Batman Arkham Knight is the third and final entry to the Rocksteady Batman series. Packed with villains, the biggest open world of the series, the Batmobile, and more. Does Arkham Knight go out in a bang? Or is this just another killing joke? Read on to find out!
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Format: Xbox One
Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Set nine months after the events of Arkham City (AC), Arkham Knight (AK) sees the rise of a tandem duo in Scarecrow and the menacing new villain Arkham Knight. The story focuses around these two villains but plenty of others show up in the form of side missions. In contrast to how villains in AC were handled, AK relegates all villains other than the core duo to these side missions. All of them are completely optional from the main story yet add to the life of the city. The Riddler, Penguin, Two-Face, Firefly, and even a few surprises make an appearance as Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight are keeping Batman occupied.
As previously stated, the side missions can be completely skipped but they can serve as a way to mix up the gameplay. The Riddler missions, for example, have Batman solving puzzles and riddles to save Catwoman. In the Two-Face missions, a new stealth element comes into play which allows you to perform loud takedowns without alerting the other enemies. Another has you solving mysterious murders. The manner in which these missions were implemented is exceptional and gives players the option of playing the story, side missions, or mixing both into their playthrough.
One feature that doesn’t have as much player choice is the Batmobile. Right from the start it is evident that the Batmobile is a central part of the game. It’s used during story missions, side missions, AR challenges, and until you get a few upgrades it’s the fastest way around the city. I welcomed the Batmobile as a fresh new mechanic to the Arkham series. The seamlessness is what really sold me. The ability to drive down a street, switch to Battle Mode to destroy a few enemy tanks, switch back to driving mode, eject and glide into the air, and then land back into the Batmobile down the street is amazing.
One aspect that I feel the Batmobile undeservedly took over was the AR Challenges (challenge maps in previous games). The Combat and Predator challenges have been a hallmark of the Arkham series since Asylum. While AC arguably had too many, AK has too little. As of writing this review, there are 23 challenges: 15 Batmobile, 4 Predator, and 4 Combat. The Batmobile challenges are divided into racing, combat, and hybrid. While these challenges can be fun, I can’t forgive the decision to drastically reduce the number of Combat and Predator challenges. For comparison: Arkham Asylum has 8 Combat and Predator maps while AC has 12 of each (half normal, half extreme). AC also included Campaign maps which combined three Predator or Combat maps along with modifiers. Not to mention the later DLC allowed you to play with Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing (all of which are playable in AK) in the challenges. It’s possible more AR Challenges will be added with later DLC, and even the ability to play with other characters, but as of now this is a serious step back from the previous titles.
The other hallmark of the Arkham series is the combat. Fret not, the combat is still as smooth as ever. With the same base controls as the previous games, AK adds a few small additions that make it new and fresh. Special moves make a return with the usual two-button combos allowing Batman to perform a variety of different takedowns. The quick fire gadgets are also back allowing Batman to use Batarangs, Explosive Gel, Smoke Pellets, Freeze Grenades, and Electric Charges during the heat of combat. The new additions come in the form of three takedowns: Fear, Environmental, and Batmobile assisted. The Fear takedowns allow you to quickly dispatch multiple enemies before you begin a fight. Once fully upgraded you can sneak up behind a group of five enemies and trigger a slow motion sequence in which Batman zips from one enemy to the next taking each down in quick succession. The environmental takedowns can be used when an interactable object, which is displayed with a blue glow, is in the area. These include light fixtures, electrical boxes, and other objects that Batman can use to instantly K.O. even the largest of enemies. Finally, the Batmobile assisted takedowns can be performed during combat when the Batmobile is in the area. When an enemy glows blue (which is also the trigger for the Environmental takedowns, Fear is yellow) Batman can knock an enemy into the air for the Batmobile to hit him with a stunning shot.
The story of AK revolves around Scarecrow trying to take down Batman now that Joker is out of the way. With a plan to mass produce his fear toxin and use it on the entire city, Batman must team up with friend and foe alike to save the Gotham yet again. The Arkham Knight is a central figure to the story. A mysterious character who appears to have extensive knowledge on Batman and displays expertise in combat and military strategy. His identity is revealed by the end of the game, but I’ll leave that for you to find out. It’s worth noting that the “true” ending doesn’t occur until after the player initiates the “Knightfall protocol” after reaching 100% game completion (which I have yet to do). The story in AK is much improved over the jumbled mess in AC, thanks to focus of a few villains while the rest appear in side missions.
The world of Arkham Knight is what holds all of these different aspects together. From finding side missions while gliding around, to roaming the streets in your badass Batmobile, Arkham Knight is the best Batman experience yet. Even the chatter from the thugs around the street with lines such as, “How many billionaires does it take to make a superhero? Three. Two to die and one to never get over it.” But nothing is perfect. Arkham Knight does have its issues including a heavy focus on the Batmobile which causes other areas to take a step back, ill-placed tutorials which led me to write this article, and a few other small items. But don’t let those steer you away from this masterpiece. Fans of Batman, the Arkham series, and action games in general will enjoy Arkham Knight. Rocksteady Studios did an amazing job with this franchise and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
+ Side missions
+ Arkham Knight
+ Seamless transition with Batmobile
– Number of Combat and Predator Challenges
– Weird tutorial system
Score: 9.5/10 “Amazing”
What I played: 35 hours completing the main story, 3 Stars on all AR Challenges, and all side missions except for the Riddler. I also obtained 59/71 achievements.