Batman Arkham Knight – Fear Strikes Gotham City (Game Review)
Batman Arkham Knight has a storyline that follows on from the previous titles and more specifically, Batman Arkham City.
This time we play as Batman with a bit of an identity crisis and a haunting past. Sounds exciting already and after having played all of the previous entries, it certainly was!
I’ll admit before having played Rocksteady Studio’s Batman Arkham games I was not a big fan of the Batman universe. Granted as a kid it interested me but somewhere between being a youngster and reaching adult life it sort of left me.
All of the excitement from collecting Batman figurines and reading the comics, it just sort of stopped. I never got back into it until I decided to play the Batman Arkham series.
Now the Batman universe is the only one that does interest me and the only one where I now know all about the various different characters and their backgrounds.
So playing the potential final entry into the Batman Arkham video game series was somewhat emotional but still exciting. Was it as good as the previous entries though? The series has certainly left some big shoes to fill and trying to fill those was never going to be an easy task. At least not from my perspective.
The characters in the Batman Arkham series are very well written and stay true to their comic book representatives. Some of the much bigger names make an appearance such as Poison Ivy, Riddler, Robin, and Catwoman. Many of which appeared in the previous Batman Arkham titles. Having such a huge cast of iconic characters makes for a much more enjoyable experience. All of whom are well written. What is also amazing within the Batman Arkham series and, more specifically, Rocksteady’s Batman titles is the return of a highly talented voice cast. Many of whom have managed to voice these characters in the past, even in other forms of media. This helps a great deal when it comes to overall enjoyment and immersion.
Batman Arkham Knight is based in the city of Gotham and it is very much rich with detail and character. Every street, dark and sinister. Thugs out of control, causing chaos in their wake. Life in Gotham City never sleeps. It is clear that Batman is very much needed once again. This time a newer and more deadlier threat looms. One in which can cause greater uncertainty for a city already full of ruin. This time it is the master of fear, Scarecrow, that is eager to cause problems and setbacks for the people of the city. Plus a new villain known simply as the Arkham Knight. An individual that resembles the Batman, specifically with the particular choice of outfit. Though, his backstory is very much a mystery. He already dislikes Batman but why?
As mentioned before, Batman Arkham Knight is definitely a sequel. It contains a lot of references from the previous titles. All of which is noticeable right from the start. It is highly recommended to have played those games beforehand. You have been warned. From a personal perspective, it is quite surprising that I am many years late to this game. Though having managed to play all of Rocksteady’s Batman titles before this one and enjoying them all. It took me quite a while to begin playing this one. I even purchased the title at launch, all of those years ago. Just never got around to actually playing it properly.
Anyway for the most part the combat mechanics within this title are very similar to the previous games. So if you, like me, managed to play the previous titles before this one then you should get used to the combat very easily and quickly. Otherwise it might take some time but it is in no way difficult to master. In fact the combat in the Batman Arkham series is really good and fluid, so much so it redefined the combat in a lot of other action games. Take Marvel’s Spider-Man for example. Very similar. This combat system also allows us to chain different attacks together. Thus performing many combo attacks. Plus you also get the ability to stun your targets and use other gadgets too. From the infamous Batclaw, Explosive Gel, Disruptor. There are many ways in which you can take on combat. Remember preparation can be a good thing. There are many gadgets that can help with this and turn the tide of battle in your favour.
The Batmobile becomes much more of a key vehicle in this particular title. Whilst in the past it was around but not really necessary. This time it manages to play a big role and allows for much more efficient and faster mode of transport.
Which is always great when you are trying to traverse a large city such as Gotham. It also comes with explosives and missiles, which yes. Is very controversial. Batman, after all, is not meant to be a mass murderer and the streets are still filled with, cruel yet to some degree, still innocent individuals. Despite who they are, the real Batman would still be reluctant to cause any form of death. So using missiles and rockets took some time to get used to.
Having said that, Batman is having a bit of an identity crisis. Not really true to his form or original self. Having Scarecrow around can make this whole situation really difficult for a skilled detective. Though, this does open the door to very interesting circumstances. Including the return of a fan favourite that was long thought to be dead and forgotten. The story as a whole within Batman Arkham Knight is very well thought out. Showing the ability to be creative and still mix in a ton of logical reasoning behind it all.
The game also features many optional side activities. Some of which, when unlocked and complete, can result in added and bonus optional endings. Thus it is always a good idea to try and get the most out of the game if you want to experience everything that the game has to offer. Some of these side activities are rather short. Only one of which truly tests your patience.
Batman Arkham Knight might have had large boots too fill with the previous entries in the series. I also had my doubts that Rocksteady could keep this amazing roll and content going. After having played this title however, I am thankful to have been proven wrong. This is another stunning title in such a fantastic series. Without the Arkham series I doubt I would have kept my interest in the Batman universe going. Now I want more. To know that this could be the end of the Arkham Batman series is really emotional. I know that the team plan to keep it going with their ‘Suicide Squad’ entry. Which is said to be part of the Arkham universe. In truth though, it is different in so many ways.
For one the Suicide Squad game has you playing as completely different characters and it is more of a ‘shooter’ based title. I won’t talk any more on this subject. To me it is part of the Arkham world but it is not truly part of the Batman Arkham series.
Though, to further this. As I played through the Batman Arkham Knight title for the first time. During this the world was taken back by the tragic passing of the Batman voice actor, Kevin Conroy. An individual that had managed to voice Batman in all of Rocksteady’s Batman titles. So to continue on with the Batman series, would, in truth, be difficult. There is always that feeling that things would never feel the same as before.
As a fan of the Batman Arkham series perhaps it is best to move on. Enjoy what we have. The entire series is borderline perfection. This is coming from someone who had to be reminded of why the Batman universe is so popular. Someone who lost their way with the whole superhero genre, until the release of Batman Arkham Asylum. Truly gems within the superhero video game genre.
I don’t really have many gripes with Batman Arkham Knight. The dialogue is fantastic, even those spoken by the random street thugs. The whole game is very immersive, addictive, and everything I wish a lot of other games were. There is not many titles out there that can hold my attention as much as this one and the rest of the series can. I even purchased several of the DLC content to this game. Though, I have yet to begin playing them.
Outside of that though I also recently purchased other Batman memorabilia too. Including shirts, hoodies, plus both a Joker and Riddler statue that I plan to review in the new few weeks. So stay tuned to my reviews page!
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4, XBox One
Main Story Length: 14-16 Hours
Platform Reviewed On: Playstation 4
Overall Rating: 5/5
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