This is the ninth part in our ‘Batman Week’ series, which is due to culminate with this review. However, the film we didn’t get around to reviewing, The Batman vs. Dracula, will be reviewed tomorrow (29th June). If you would like to read previous reviews, click here.
Please note that although I will try and keep spoilers to a minimum, some may slip in. Reader discretion is advised.
Well, this is it. Having reviewed 8 Batman films in the last week and a half, it is time to review Batman: Arkham Knight, the long-awaited, much-anticipated finale to Rocksteady Studios’ Batman Arkham Trilogy. After suffering a delay late last year, my expectations only rose and rose, to the point that I genuinely believed that there was no way the game could surpass my expectations, let alone match them.
My God, I was so wrong.
In Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman is at the peak of his physical condition, but after Scarecrow forces the citizens of Gotham to evacuate and promises to kill Batman with the help of the mysterious Arkham Knight, the Caped Crusader has to not only prevent Scarecrow’s fear toxin from spreading, but also figure out who the mysterious Arkham Knight is, whilst having to battle his inner demons.
Although perhaps not as consistent as Arkham City before it, I believe Arkham Knight to be have one of the best plots in the whole series. Its story is character-driven and pretty deep at points, reaching into some of the darker abysses of Batman’s psyche, giving huge fans something to sink their teeth into. There are several twists and turns throughout the roughly 12-hour campaign, and for the most-part, these really hit the spot. There are a few shock moments that you will never see coming, but the highlight is the final cutscene of the game – which I won’t spoil here – which I found absolutely phenomenal. However, by the time you eventually find out who the Arkham Knight really is, there is no surprise. The actual identity is spoon-fed to the player only a few hours before the actual reveal, so you’d either need to be paying no attention whatsoever or know nothing of Batman lore to not figure this one out. Regardless, by this stage the Arkham Knight’s identity is no longer important, since so many plot points are introduced that will grip you without worrying about this one. The game is well-written, and like previous entries in the series, jam-packed with Easter eggs referring to the DC Comics universe, with even a Superman one slotted in. Could Rocksteady be suggesting something?
From a gameplay standpoint, Arkham Knight retains the incredible FreeFlow combat from previous games, based on three factors: attack, counter, and gadgets. Although not altered a whole lot here, a few new elements are added, such as being able to hit grounded enemies so you don’t lose your combo, but the biggest addition is by far being able to drive and battle inside the Batmobile. It handles superbly and you always feel in control, and the combat system that Rocksteady incorporate is superb, providing some of the game’s most thrilling action scenes. It sounds fantastic and truly roars, and although it doesn’t usurp the rush of soaring around Gotham as Batman, the introduction of the Batmobile is certainly one of the game’s strongest elements. This time around, there are far fewer of the much-praised Arkham boss battles, even including the side missions, which is a shame because some of the bosses of previous games – such as Mr. Freeze in Arkham City – were where this series soared.
Graphically, the game is stunning. Rocksteady claimed that the same number of polygons were used for one character model in Arkham Knight as in the entirety of Arkham Asylum, and this is truly evident during gameplay. The stubble on Batman’s face looks so realistic, and the way his cape shimmers in the wind when gliding, and how rain glistens off the surface of the cowl is just breathtaking. The Batmobile is very detailed, as is the new and improved Batsuit, and the stunning graphics help to enhance what was already a gorgeous series of games. However, whilst playing I did encounter a number of graphical glitches, such as textures not popping in for a good while, the cape getting caught inside the Batsuit, damage not rendering on the suit throughout the game, and enemies getting caught in the environment, but considering how close to launch we currently are, I will allow some lenience to Rocksteady.
Much like the games before it, the design of Batman: Arkham Knight is astounding. As mentioned, the Batsuit and Batmobile are superb, and the plethora of additional skins for both are not only well-designed, but prove how much care has gone into making this the definitive Batman experience. The character models are faithful to their comic-book origins, particularly Harley Quinn, and some other characters that I won’t mention here. Gotham itself is phenomenal, with legendary locations such as Ace Chemicals and Wayne Tower having superb designs and detail.
When reviewing this game, I have tried to be as impartial as possible, since I love the Arkham games so much and have played them all numerous times. However, it is impossible to overlook the fact that this game is simply a triumph: yes, there are a few glitches, the big twist wears thin and the PC version is in a near-unplayable state, but on the PS4 and Xbox One, the game not only looks gorgeous, but runs solidly, and tells Rocksteady’s incredibly character-driven and deep story perfectly. Maybe I am being slightly biased when I say this, but in my opinion, Batman: Arkham Knight is one of, if not the, greatest game(s) I have ever played.
I give Batman: Arkham Knight 9 out of 10.