I am the knight

Batman: Arkham Knight review

What with two Batman-related movies coming out this year, Batman hype is at an all-time high. Movie-goers around the world are preparing for the caped crusader’s throwdown with Superman in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which seems to have caused a distraction that allows for the biggest Batman baddies to run amok in Suicide Squad. Now, if you’re anything like me, you must be pretty excited right now. So, allow us to quench our thirst with the most recent Batman video game, Batman: Arkham Knight, released in 2015 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. For those interested, this is the most recent installment in Rocksteady’s critically acclaimed “Arkham” series, which began with Arkham Asylum in 2009. I personally found Asylum to be excellent, and its sequel, Arkham City, is nothing short of a masterpiece for Batman fans and casual gamers alike. I pre-ordered Arkham Knight almost as soon as it was announced, so now I’d like to discuss whether or not it’s a worthy addition to the series.

I came into Arkham Knight with a bad taste in my mouth, as the previous installment in the series, Arkham Origins, was far less than stellar. What gave the newest installment some credibility in my mind was that it was actually developed by Rocksteady, whereas Origins was developed by Warner Bros Games Montreal. Additionally, Arkham Knight was announced to be the first game in the series which would receive the “M” rating, promising a more mature, dark, and violent story than the previous entries. What can I say? I’m a morbid person. If Arkham Knight would be able to recreate and expand upon the brilliant combat mechanics of the other games in the Arkham series, as well as to deliver a rich and interesting story, I would consider it to be my new favorite in the series.

Fortunately, Arkham Knight did not disappoint. Right off the bat (haha), I was struck by the graphical prowess of the game, especially on the PS4. Rain and lighting effects made Gotham feel alive, while fluent animations made combat feel morbidly satisfying. Being the Batman has never looked or felt this good. Many improvements were made to the combat, but the most notable addition is the “Fear Takedown” system. This system allowed Batman to take down multiple enemies at once in a time-slowing multi takedown. This made stealth encounters much more enjoyable and balanced out some of the new and challenging enemy types. The most noticeable addition to the game was the ability to drive the Batmobile. This ability turned out to be as much a curse as it was a blessing, however. The Batmobile is something new to the Arkham series, and let’s just say its integration was less than perfect. As opposed to the excellent hand-to-hand combat mechanics, Batmobile encounters feel bland and repetitive. The game forces you into situations where you’re gunning down waves of identical unmanned drones far too often, and I always found myself bored and frustrated with these events. The Batmobile is also used in timed obstacle courses, as well, but these lost their appeal pretty quickly as well. If the Batmobile hadn’t been included, Arkham Knight would be my current favorite Arkham game, but ultimately that honor still rests with Arkham City.

The story of Arkham Knight is likely the best in the series

— Colin Ruddy

The story of Arkham Knight is likely the best in the series, but I can’t talk about it in too much detail because of my attempts to avoid spoilers. I will say that the Scarecrow’s influence over the plot makes the whole experience a dark, surreal, and often genuinely frightening one. The side villains all serve their purposes well, but I feel that some weren’t given quite enough involvement. There are two secondary villains in particular that made this game so memorable, but I think one would have to play the game for themselves to see what I’m talking about. The plot takes twists and turns I rarely saw coming, and the ending is as intense and emotional as one would expect coming from a Batman game. I would read this story in comic book form if I could, and I would recommend this game to anyone for that very reason.

So until the protectors of Gotham and Metropolis clash, and until the villains save the day, Arkham Knight will satisfy that superhero craving just nicely. If you’re feeling up to it, I would highly recommend that you don the cape and cowl, become the night, and enjoy defending Gotham City one more time if you’re ready to believe in good.