Batman Arkham Knight Review
My nights of not getting anything done are finally at an end…by that I mean that I have finally beaten Batman: Arkham Knight. It blew through my life like a hurricane. Having to work 8-5 and not owning an Xbox One or PS4 meant I had to do truly scary things to be able to play this game as much as I have. As soon as I got home from work I’d endeavor to get my next fix but now I’m ready to go cold turkey from my video game drug. What are my reflections on my time as the Dark Knight you ask? Well humble Bat-Reader, I will give you my full review.
The game play of Arkham Knight doesn’t fall too far from the previous Arkham tree. It was already virtually perfect so there wasn’t much to fix but they did add two awesome components to combat. When fighting with one of Batman’s allies you can switch to that character and play as them for the duration of the battle or you can summon them for bone cracking ‘team take downs’! Secondly you can now interact with the environment around you, tossing goons into electrical fences, dropping lamps on them and using the Batmobile to assist you during combat. Speaking of the Batmobile let’s jump into that new component of the game.
At first the Batmobile is a wonderful addition to the game. Driving through the streets is thrilling, completing the Ridder’s race tracks is challenging and tank combat is a fun change of pace. Unfortunately the game gets a bit bogged down with this new play style. The amount of traditional Batman style puzzles is almost zero and extended Predator sections seem to be equally scarce. The middle of the game seems like one endless series of virtually identical tank battles. Onto the story!
The Arkham games are all known for their near perfect comic book stories. Batman: Arkham Knight starts extremely strong. It drew me in and kept me dashing from plot point to plot point. There are some really amazing moments. You get to spend some time exploring a large air ship above Gotham, and the Batman: the Animated Series lover in me was thrilled. You also get to fight side by side with Robin and Nightwing which really made me geek out.
Minor Spoilers Below
I was interested to see that this game was primarily about dealing with the ramifications of the end of the Arkham City where the Joker infected Batman with his own Titan infused blood before dying from its poison. Batman spends the entirety of this game battling an imaginary Joker in his head for control of his body as he discovers that the infected blood tends to turn those infected with it into copies of the Joker. Most of the best parts of the plot come from this aspect of the game. Mark Hamill is again wonderful in the roll as well as Kevin Conroy as Batman. In one completely bonkers section you get to play as the Joker destroying Gotham in Batman’s mind. It’s really great but the name of the game is Arkham Knight and in that regard I was a bit disappointed.
The revelation of his identity is very predictable and is all but telegraphed by a few flashbacks Batman has in the game. I think having his identity be something that tied in more closely with the previous three games would have been more satisfying as I’m not even sure this particular character was mentioned in any of the previous games.
That said this game did tie in really with the underrated Arkham Origins. Since that game was made by a different studio I wasn’t sure if there would be any references to it but there are actually quite a few, including the appearance of a few of the assassins from the game midway through this one.
The side missions are rather hit and miss. The completely new ones, like the ones involving Man-Bat and Professor Pyg are thrilling and fun. The carry over missions from Arkham City involving Azrael and Hush are a bit disappointing. Hush is especially disappointing because in Arkham City you track him all night only for him to basically say ‘I’ll see you in the next game’. Then when he pops up in this game you get a five minute mission where he is incapacitated without a fight. If Arkham Knight wanted to reach its full potential in regards to story I believe Hush would have made a much more interesting identity for the Arkham Knight, as he is already an evil reflection of Bruce Wayne in face and origin.
The last thing I need to touch on is the ending of this game. It’s a bit underwhelming but I believe it’s pretty hard to top killing the Joker in Arkham City. I would have loved a showdown with Killer Croc at some point too but he only shows up for a second in one of Batman’s trippy Joker delusions.
Arkham Knight is a fun entry into the series but ultimately does not top Arkham City or Arkham Asylum in terms of story. It does top them both in game-play, but as it was released in a different generation that should be expected. Alright I see light coming through my windows. It’s time to put this game to rest along with myself because as Bruce Wayne said in Batman Begins, “Bats are nocturnal”.