Volume Four, Issue 32!
“Arkham Knight Review”
I’ve finally done it. I’ve beaten Arkham Knight.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m at 96%, with every side mission finished except for the Riddler trophies, of which I’m slowly working through to get 100% completion. However, which only 4% remaining in the game, I’d say that I’ve played plenty of the game to pass along some of my thoughts on it.
In a lot of ways, there are many parallels between Rocksteady’s Arkham series of games and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Both took the character and redeemed him in their respective mediums (Nolan preceding Batman & Robin and Rocksteady preceding…well, pretty much every Batman video game since Return of the Joker was released on the NES), and both received critical and commercial acclaim for their work. And like Christopher Nolan, Rocksteady has decided that this third installment of their Batman work will be the last, and put a defining end to their story of the Dark Knight (Arkham Origins, while having some Easter eggs in Knight, doesn’t count as it was developed by WB Montreal, not Rocksteady).
Arkham Knight takes place a year after the events of Arkham City. The Joker is dead, and in the wake of his death, the city of Gotham has seen a sharp decline in crime, despite the best attempts of Two-Face, Penguin, and other Batman rogues. That is, until Halloween night, when Scarecrow returns with a newly designed fear toxin and causes a mass evacuation of the city. Along with a new villain called The Arkham Knight, Scarecrow has one goal: the death of the Batman.
If you’re a fan of the previous Arkham games, there’s plenty to like about Knight. The controls are exactly the same as the others in the series (with the exception of some new button layouts for the gadgets), and there’s even a better way of keeping track of your side missions and quests. The big game play change (and selling point) comes with the addition of the Batmobile, which is playable for the first time in the Arkham game series.
Much has been written about the Batmobile by people way more qualified to write reviews than I, and largely it’s been kind of negative. Unfortunately, I have to agree with many of those other reviewers. As awesome as it is being able to dive bomb off a building and summon the Batmobile right underneath you, the Batmobile controls end up being more frustrating that fun for a majority of the beginning of the game. I found that it became less frustrating the more I used it, but I won’t lie, a large majority of my travelling through Gotham was done via Batman’s glide ability than driving in the Batmobile. Until you finish the different waves of the Arkham Knight drone side missions, all of your time driving through Gotham will be spent using the tank mode and battling horde after horde of missile launching drones. While I get that Rocksteady is really proud of including the Batmobile, sometimes all I wanted to do was get from point A to point B without having to stop and fight 12 drone tanks. Honestly, the coolest thing about the Batmobile was the fact that you use it to bring villains back to GCPD after you beat them in their respective side missions. Hearing Two-Face or Professor Pyg (who’s mission is probably why the game got an “M” rating) rant and rave from the backseat as you drive them to the GCPD lock up was pretty awesome, and almost makes me forgive Rocksteady from the countless tank battles.
In terms of Arkham Knight’s story, it’s actually really interesting, with one big exception: the reveal of who is behind the Arkham Knight’s helmet. I won’t spoil the reveal, but I will tell you that Rocksteady and DC CCO Geoff Johns’ claim that the villain is an “entirely new character” isn’t entirely true. In fact, the reveal was such a let down for me that it did take the wind out of my sails to finish the game. However, I will say the final mission of Knight was really cool, and Rocksteady definitely deserves credit for pulling off a finale that really made my jaw drop. In fact, the final mission of the story mode was so surprising that I was actually mad that finished the side missions before the final mission. It throws such a curve ball that I actually want to replay some of the side missions with the new twist in play. Knight is full of twists at nearly every turn, so if you can, go into with as little information as possible.
At times during Arkham Knight I felt almost completely overwhelmed. I’d have the main story and no less than 9 side missions waiting for me to complete them. But, the option of facing off with tons of Batman’s rogues in fun and unique scenarios was too cool to pass up, and of all of Rocksteady’s games, this is the one that truly makes you feel like you are the Dark Knight. Despite it’s faults in the Batmobile department, Arkham Knight has more unique side missions, awesome cameos from Batman villains and heroes, and is a must play game in the new console generation. Rocksteady definitely deserves praise for a fantastic finale to one of the cooler interpretations of the Batman.