After the disappointment that was Batman Arkham Origins, I was glad to see developer Rocksteady back at the helm of developing a third batman game to their personal Batman trilogy. Their Batman games just kept improving, and although I found it hard to believe that they could possibly improve upon the masterpiece that was Arkham City…somehow…they did. This entry picks up after the events of Arkham City, with Scarecrow releasing his deadly fear toxin upon the city, thus forcing the citizens of Gotham to evacuate. Gotham’s remaining population is down to some notorious villains, criminals, some friendly faces, and the big bat himself…Batman. Fans of the series will love this massive new playground to play in, and newcomers to the Batman franchise will be introduced to one of the finest open world experiences on next-gen consoles.
Bat – Presentation:
After Scarecrow releases a tease of his toxin on the citizens of Gotham, the city is forced to evacuate. The city is now just crawling with villains, criminals, and a skeleton crew of Batman’s closest companions. Unfortunately for Batman, Scarecrow isn’t alone in his conquest of Gotham, he’s got a new and powerful ally; The Arkham Knight. Whoever the Arkham Knight is, you find out pretty early on that he’s stronger than Batman, he can easily beat him and kill him whenever he’d please, but Scarecrow has him on a leash. It’s this new villain team up that really provides a different Batman story here, you see Batman afraid. As the game progresses, Batman makes great strides, but loses a lot along the way of taking down these bad guys, and in the end, isn’t sure he can stop them. It’s this vulnerability and humanity that we’re able to see in Batman that makes Arkham Knight a fantastic finale for the Arkham video games. While the wonderful voice talent of Mark Hamill isn’t back to reprise his role as the joker, the talent they’ve chosen across all roles is simply fantastic. The emotional depth you can hear in some of the key characters is great, and the storytelling is only enhanced by a different perspective by a character we won’t name for spoiler purposes. But this added perspective, is just the right sort of contrasting commentary that gives you the whole picture of Batman’s actions, you see the bad he does, the negative courses of some of his actions he chooses.
Bat – Graphics:
Gotham doesn’t sound like it’d be a very pretty place. It’s dark, it rains a lot, and there’s not much nature or natural landscapes. But thanks to the magic Rocksteady has worked with the Unreal engine, Arkham Knight makes even a bad-sounding city like Gotham, look absolutely beautiful. The neon signs all have a distinctive glow, and this glow alters as the rain in Gotham increases or decreases. Speaking of, I’ve never seen such good looking rain in a video game. As Batman glides across the city you’ll see the individual raindrops hitting his cape, and the water dripping down his armor and cowl. There’s also little details…like characters eyes, veins, and sweat. Some moments when Scarecrows toxin takes over their victims, their transformation process is incredibly detailed, and you can really see the fear in the eyes that they’re feeling. Perhaps the most impressive visual quality of Batman, is its use of all in-game graphics for its cinematic and cutscene segments. The game seamlessly goes from gameplay, to scripted scenes, and back to gameplay without having to pause for a loading screen or switching to a black screen, or anything. It’s this seamless gameplay experience that helps immerse players in the world of Gotham and Batman.
Bat – Gameplay
What’s nice about this final entry in the Arkham Trilogy, is it starts you out with majority of the upgrades that you gained in previous Batman games. The best part…it doesn’t pull a Metroid and take them all away from you later and make you start out from scratch. Players are introduced to familiar characters right off the bat, Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Cat-Woman, Riddler, Scarecrow, Two face, Poison Ivy, Nightwing, Robin, Alfred, and many more. While the main missions take course of you going after Scarecrow and the new bad guy the Arkham Knight, players are also given many side missions they can choose to do to help clean up Arkham, and help other citizens in need. Each of these side missions have a completely different flavor from the rest, which helps keep the whole package fun. Sometimes games get too muddled with side quests that are just there to take up more time, but Arkham Knight manages to add side missions that actually add to the whole story, and are completely fun in the process. My personal favorite was Riddler’s racetracks for the Bat Mobile. Speaking…the Bat Mobile is one of the greatest videogame companions I’ve ever experienced. It’s always there for you when you need it, like a good dog. But this dog has an ever increasing slew of tricks up its sleeve. The Batmobile has grappling hooks, 50 mm cannons, non-lethal weapons, missile launchers, a battle mode, boosters, power-slide capabilities…it’s just all SO cool. There were many times throughout the game like I found myself freaking out over Batmobile maneuvers and combat scenarios more than a few times. The best part too, it never gets old. Same goes for the combat in Arkham Knight, although it incorporates many of the same fantastic mechanics from the previous games, it adds much more that are just as great. Fear takedowns let you smoothly take down multiple enemies one by one, and new gadgets let you disable enemy weapons and jam their guns from afar. Also, the new skill trees players can spend their points will only add to and create more fun for players to have within Arkham Knight (I do highly recommend increasing your resistance to bullet damage early on).
Bat – Conclusion:
As I stated earlier, the story and experience the Arkham Knight provides is a situation unlike any seen in many Batman videogames or graphic novels. This experience is one not to be missed, especially by fans of the previous Batman entries. Newcomers are sure to find a lot to love, whether it’s the massive and fun open world gameplay, or the famous Batman fighting mechanics. The trilogy of Batman games that Rocksteady has developed are all unique and amazing on their own, and that’s what I appreciate so much about them, they each individual stories and fantastic on their own. Honestly, the ending they provided in Arkham City was one that would’ve left everyone happy without another entry, but I’m glad they pushed their limits to make a third and final game. This side of Batman is one I’ve never seen, and it’s one that no one should miss. Arkham Knight is a story and experience not to be missed by any gamer, as far the other Batman games put out by Rocksteady. Hats off to you Rocksteady, for making these Batman games not only able to stand on their own, but to stand proudly and prominently.
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