Batman: Arkham Knight concludes developer Rocksteady’s gritty Arkham trilogy. Once again you must don on the mantle of the bat, and take on Gotham’s underworld bosses as they try to conquer the city’s streets. Looking better than ever, and filled with familiar friends and foes from the Batman mythos, this is a worthy end to a fantastic tale.
Face your fears
Since the original Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady has managed to capture the essence of the caped crusader. By making him the right mix of untouchable yet vulnerable, you were forced to use the environment, cunning, and any gadgets available to you to make it through.
The team have continued to expand on these founding principles through the series. Making locations larger, more dynamic, and denser with content to be enjoyed and explored. This progression has reached it has reached its peak in the massive Batman: Arkham Knight.
With the people of Gotham evacuated in response to a threat from the Scarecrow, you must reclaim the streets from marauding criminals. These events are told through a dramatic opening sequence, setting the tone for the rest of this dark tale.
Though the people of Gotham are absent, this doesn’t stop the world feeling full, with criminals roaming the streets in significantly greater numbers than in previous installments. But while these thugs pose an inconvenience, it is the organized forces of the Arkham Knight that are the threat, with weapons, tanks, and drones to back them up. The Knight clearly means business, and may actually be able to deliver on his plans to kill the Bat.
The core of Batman: Arkham Knight remains mostly unchanged. You traverse Gotham City with Batman’s trusty grappling-hook and glider-like cape combo. Using the hook you rapidly winch yourself skyward, allowing you to glide over the buildings below.
As you soar over the city you discover the side-quests and challenges that fill the world. Many of these feature Batman’s iconic villains, and by completing their multi-staged missions you will uncover more of their background thanks to the detailed storytelling and rich fiction of the world. Some missions focus on pure combat, but others offer more variety – including a few that let the great detective show off his investigative skills, as he pieces events together using his x-ray like detective vision.
A city filled with fun, and danger
Traversing the world you will occasionally find yourself entering into combat. The same fluid system remains from earlier titles, with the brutal free-flowing strikes and counter attacks still looking impressive. Once you master the system, you can tear through gangs of thugs with ease, smashing all in your path.
To mix things up there are some new foes, such as the sword wielding soldiers. These nimble opponents quickly slash, thrust, and dive at you, forcing you keep mobile. Don’t worry though, as Batman has not been lax in his training and is now able to utilize environmental elements such as light fittings and fuse boxes to put enemies out of action. During specific sequences he can even team up with other heroes for tag team attacks.
When direct assaults won't suffice you will have to make use of Batman’s other talent, stealth. These sections usually take place in clearly set out arenas, with lots of perches, air vents, and other tools to aid your assault.
Here you must manipulate your opponents, picking them of one at a time using your fists and Batman's wonderful toys. You can fire off makeshift cable lines to attack from, disable guns from a distance, and even plant explosives to take out unsuspecting thugs.
But where these elements are all refined versions of what went before, there is one completely new feature - the Batmobile. This super-car/tank hybrid has two modes, car and battle mode. In car mode, it’s possible to speed through the city streets, chasing down enemy vehicles. In battle mode, the car transforms, raising up on its multi-directional wheels and deploying its massive cannon. This mode offers dramatically increased mobility, letting you strafe and circle enemy tanks with ease to take them out in a tense game of cat and mouse. While at times the car feels unnecessary due to Batman’s mobility, the thrill of controlling any Batmobile makes my inner child grin.
The thrilling conclusion
In many ways the small tweaks it makes to the franchises' gameplay do not raise Batman: Arkham Knight above the previous games. But it had been long enough since the last game that I was eager for more, and this certainly delivers. The twist and turns of its story dive into the fictions fascinating characters, bringing this trilogy to a satisfying end.