Joey Sack, ’17, Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
After over a year of delays, gamers can finally get their hands on Batman: Arkham Knight, the final chapter in the Arkham trilogy from Rocksteady Studios. This game is advertised as the definitive Batman experience; according to Rocksteady, gamers who pick up this game will get the chance to “Be Vengeance, Be the Night, Be the Batman.” And do they deliver on that promise? Well, despite a few hiccups at launch, the answer is a resounding yes; Batman: Arkham Knight is a great game and a satisfying conclusion to the Arkham games.
In Arkham Knight, it has been nine months since (spoiler alert!) the death of the Joker in Arkham City, and the people of Gotham City have enjoyed a reprieve from the high crime rate usually associated with their city. But it is, as they say, the calm before the storm: Scarecrow has returned to Gotham, and shows the people the horrifying effects of his latest strain of fear toxin. In short order, Gotham City is evacuated of her 6.3 million citizens, leaving only the criminals, the police, and, of course, Batman and his allies left in the city. Thrown into the mix are various members of Batman’s rogues gallery, all of whom are involved in a plan to kill the Dark Knight and take Gotham for everything its worth. Throughout all this, the streets of Gotham are patrolled by the forces of the mysterious Arkham Knight, a masked soldier who has a particular hatred for Batman and dresses in a similar manner to mock him. But Batman has a more internal struggle on his hands; remember how Joker’s blood affected him back in Arkham City? Well, there were some unforeseen aftereffects that are going to test Batman’s commitment to his one rule: never kill.
The story of Arkham Knight is very tightly written, with twists and turns at the perfect moments to keep gamers interested and invested in the game. There are side missions, but you will find that they are almost hidden away, and you really have to seek them out in order to play through them. One of the big mysteries in the game is the identity of this mysterious Arkham Knight and his connection to Batman. No spoilers, but of all of the theories floating around the Internet, one of those theories is correct. Also, again, no spoilers, but in order to see the full and complete ending of Arkham Knight, you have to play all of the side missions and the main mission to completion; there’s nothing wrong with this, but it should be something that fans and completionists should know going in.
Arkham Knight brings together a great cast of voice actors, consisting of new additions such as Jonathan Banks as Commissioner James Gordon, as well as veteran Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy reprising his role as the Caped Crusader in one of his best outings as Batman yet. He is intimidating, but also has moments of great emotional turmoil, portraying a Batman who has reached the end of his rope. In addition, Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in the first two Arkham games and in the DC Animated Universe alongside Kevin Conroy’s Batman, returns for some post-mortem lines from the Clown Prince of Crime, brought to life by Scarecrow’s fear toxin. While some of these moments can be a little annoying, there are also funny moments, and it’s always great to see the interaction between Conroy’s Batman and Hamill’s Joker.
The world of Batman: Arkham Knight is massive, over five times the size of Arkham City and featuring plenty of thugs to beat up and no loading screens when going inside. As previously stated, you have to actively seek out the side missions, and it can feel like a daunting task in a city so big. Traveling across Gotham can be achieved in two ways: gliding across the rooftops in typical Batman fashion, or taking to the streets themselves in the tank-like Batmobile. The gliding has been updated since Arkham City, and Batman soars higher and for longer than ever before. The Batmobile makes you feel like Batman when you get behind the wheel for the first time, and it’s not just a car: Batman is packing heat in the form of a 60mm cannon, a riot suppressor (fitted with rubber bullets), and a Vulcan mini-gun, and he will need all of those when he goes up against the forces of the Arkham Knight, especially their unmanned drones.
Speaking of enemy types, the combat system for Batman and his ride are both easy and satisfying; Batman can fling himself around a room beating criminals to a pulp and countering with ease, and the Batmobile sideswipes and whirls around on the Arkham Knight’s drones to send them to the scrap heap. That being said, however, some of the most challenging parts of Arkham Knight come in the form of unmanned drones called Cobra Tanks, which can take the Batmobile down in only a few shots. They make for challenging and frustrating battles, especially when there are as many as seven looking for Batman and his car. Predator situations are as challenging as ever, and you really have to move and think like the Batman in order to make it out of these sections alive.
There were some problems on the technical side of Arkham Knight at launch, most notably on the Windows version of the game. Even on the PS4 version, which is what this review is based on, there was a problem with starting the game on the first day, though this problem was resolved by day two. It’s a massive game, and given how long the game was in development, it’s amazing there aren’t more bugs. While we can readily recommend the game on consoles, it would be wise to wait it out if you prefer gaming on your computer.
So, is Batman: Arkham Knight a perfect game? No, but few games are. It had a few problems at launch and that may affect people’s gaming experience, depending on whether they play on consoles or PC. Is it the perfect game for the Arkham series to go out on? Yes. It is a fantastic game that has a great main story, solid side missions, and a voice cast that makes you feel for the Dark Knight and his allies as they work to keep Gotham from descending into oblivion. This is the Batman game we deserve, the Batman game we need, and the Batman game we got.
This review of Batman: Arkham Knight based on gameplay on the PlayStation 4. Batman: Arkham Knight is available now on the PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. As of the writing of this review, the Windows version is unavailable.