Rating: M for Mature
On my ninth birthday, my aunt bought me a Batman comic. I don’t remember what issue number it was or if it was a classic issue or a spin-off, but the story has really stuck with me through the years. Batman wasn’t fighting any of his fantastical villains or saving Gotham City from utter destruction, he was solving the murder of a single man. This one issue is one of the reasons I am a comic book fan to this day. Something about the way Batman did everything in his power to help one person in the city that he has sworn to protect. This single gesture of commitment is what makes Batman such a great character. He’s just a man. He doesn’t have to rely on a major crisis, super powers or crazy villains to keep your interest(I’m looking at you, Spiderman!), he is just a man who wants to help others. Plus we get to see him kick some tail along the way, which is always fun. That being said, let’s take a look at Arkham Knight.
It’s been three months since the events of Arkham City, and Gotham is quiet. Halloween is approaching and the citizens of the chaotic city are hoping for a peaceful and fun holiday for once. Unfortunately, Gotham is home to some of the most dangerous and sadistic villains in comic book history so their hopes are short-lived. The Scarecrow has declared war on Gotham City and Batman and releases his most dangerous and lethal fear toxin to date, causing chaos and confusion throughout the city. As citizens and officials are instructed to evacuate, all of Gotham’s notorious start to come out of hiding to claim the city as their own. Fortunately, Batman shows up to help stop all of Gotham’s most despicable. Just as soon as Batman is about to get the drop on Scarecrow, a new villain arrives on the scene named the Arkham Knight; a highly skilled and dangerous mercenary that has promised to take out Batman at all costs.
Aside from the obvious violence, there are few things to look out for in Arkham Knight. The game starts by showing the effects of the Scarecrow’s new venom and it is pretty intense. It makes everyone look like what they call in the game “demons” and it shows the deaths of many innocent people. There is a suicide scene that is pretty intense, but we actually do not see the action done. There is some vulgarity but it is not excessive. Commissioner Gordon is where most of the cursing comes from, mostly with “d***” and “b****”. There is some spiritual content with the character Azrael, as he is with the Order of St. Dumas; an ancient religious sect set in Gotham. They don’t go into a lot of detail about the Order, but there is a big cross on Azrael’s outfit.
A lot of the same rules apply in Arkham Knight as they did for the previous games: the more missions you finish and the more fights you win, the more experience you earn to put towards enhancements for your suit and any gadgets you might have including the Batmobile. These enhancements can range from upgrading the armor in your suit, to charging up the Batclaw so you will launch off buildings at a higher speed, even adding a special ejector seat in the Batmobile that will shoot you out of the driver’s seat at fantastic speed and height.
The free-flow combat system comes back and it’s the most polished it has ever been. Your’e not going to find a better combat system out there than this. The seamless transition from attack to counter back to attack is just flawless. There’s also all of the special take-downs you can pull off. These range from environmental,like throwing an enemy into an electric fence, to tossing a baddie up in the air and letting the Batmobile’s non-lethal rounds finish them off.
Predator mode has been upgraded as well. With the addition of gadgets like the new and improved disruptor, a device that can disable opponent’s firearms and stun rods, it bring a whole new level of fun to the classic stealth mode. There are new additions to the enemy roster as well. Bringing on characters like the medic, who can revive downed opponents, to bad guys who carry devices that can scramble detective mode, brings a whole new sense of propriety to the mix.
Arkham Knight is the first Rocksteady game to let us drive the Batmobile which has two modes: driving and combat. Driving mode can be a little frustrating at first because of the car’s handling, but once you get used to it, it becomes much simpler. Combat mode is used for many different aspects of the game, like fighting off remote-controlled tank drones that are spread throughout Gotham and is even used for solving many of the Riddler’s many puzzles. While driving the Batmobile was fun and something fresh for this long anticipated final chapter of this series, there were times where it felt really forced and unbalanced. Some side missions could not be finished without a final fight or a chase through the city in the Batmobile.
Arkham Knight is a beautiful looking game. The lighting and rain effects are what really stick out to me. There were times while I was gliding over Gotham that I noticed rain gathering in the crevices of Batman’s cape. Rocksteady was not afraid to add little details like this while also focusing on adding a smooth polish to Gotham City. There have been many reports of the PC version of Arkham Knight not working like it should and crashing or freezing while playing, but the PS4 version has not experienced any of these issues.
My biggest gripe with Arkham Knight is the story. I don’t want to give anything away, but towards the end of the main mission, things start to get a little confusing. There were points where I said to myself: “Oh, I know where this is going.” and I would be right, while other times I thought: “What in the world is happening?”. The focus seems to drift a little towards the finale, but it does not take away from the experience.
Arkham Knight is a fitting end to an experience that started back in 2009 with Arkham Asylum. The major improvements to the combat and the addition of the Batmobile makes Knight an experience that you do not want to miss out on. Rocksteady has taken Batman and all of the other major players of Gotham City and given them the video game treatment that they deserve, and while I am a little sad that it’s over, I’m also thankful for the experience and the fun that I have had playing as Batman for the last six years.
The Bottom Line
Arkham Knight is a great end to a fantastic series and is definitely a contender for game of the year.