Running off the top of Wayne Tower into a dive, hearing the wind rushing past Batman’s cape as I pull out into a glide and drink in the view of Gotham City while Oracle tells me the details of my next mission. Now I’m in the streets of Gotham beating the crap out of a multitude of thugs who never stood a chance. Then with a press of a button the Batmobile comes tearing into the intersection as Batman jumps into the drivers seat, half a second later I hit the afterburner and speed away into the night. This is Batman Arkham Knight and being Batman has never felt better.
We’ve come a long way from the cramped corridors of Arkham Asylum. Gotham city looks better than ever from the imposing sky scraper of Wayne Enterprises to the grimy alleyways of Gotham’s underbelly. Rocksteady has always prided themselves on the high level of detail in their open worlds not the size. The size is impressive, Arkham Knight is roughly three times the size of Arkham City, but it’s the level of detail that is truly stands out. Every inch of the city feels like it has a story to tell from the evidence room at the GCPD to the comments made by thugs as you fly though the Gotham City skyline.
Backing up the staggering attention to detail is an all star cast of heroes and villains. Most notably Commissioner Gordon, Alfred and Oracle make their first appearances in more than just voice. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil reprise their roles as Batman and Joker respectively and don’t disappoint, with Mark Hamil’s Joker stealing the show. Many familiar faces return such as Two-Face and Penguin but Arkham Knight isn’t afraid to dig deep into Batman’s rogues gallery with much more obscure villains such as Firefly and Manbat.
Arkham Knight delivers one of Batman’s best story arcs to date. The mystery of the Arkham Knight’s identity will fall a little flat for those of us who are sunk deep into Batman lore but for the casual player it’s a great hook to keep you playing. Scarecrow’s threat to destroy Gotham City and all Batman stands for, although not original, culminates in one of the best endings I’ve experienced in a long time.
Not much has changed from Arkham Asylum to Arkham Knight in terms of gameplay. The free flow combat still feels better than ever. Pros of the system will appreciate all of the subtle changes while the average player will still feel like a badass. If you have played an Arkham game before you will know what to expect. Probably the biggest changes to gameplay are the predator missions. More enemies, bigger maps and more ways than ever to take down thugs makes these missions stand out.
The big selling point for Arkham Knight was the introduction of the Batmobile. Unfortunately, this is one of Arkham Knights biggest mistakes. Driving the bat mobile feels great, chasing down Gotham’s most wanted while power sliding thought the streets of Gotham feels like Batman. Holding down L2 transforms the Botmobile into a tank. These tank missions require you to destroy other conveniently unmanned tanks over and over and over, it’s just not fun. There is nothing wrong with the gameplay, the bat-tank controls fine but these missions are frustrating and most importantly don’t feel like Batman. It feels like these missions were added as an afterthought to justify the Batmobile’s presence as more than just a glorified car.
Boring Bat-tank aside, Arkham Knight is still the best Batman game ever made. From the gameplay to the presentation and the story Rocksteady has delivered the perfect sendoff for the Dark Knight.