Rocksteady know how to do Batman. Not just how to make Batman video games, but how to really do Batman. They get that character and with Arkham Knight they have brought to an end their Arkham trilogy with a game that rivals the very best of Batman’s appearances on a screen.
Arkham Knight follows on from City in many classic video game ways. The map’s bigger and they’ve introduced a new mechanic, the Batmobile. Both of which have been pinpointed by some as issues. What made Arkham Asylum such a brilliant game was how streamlined it was. By the end of it you knew your way around that Asylum, but were still constantly surprised by its secrets. Arkham Knight doesn’t have that. Gotham is huge and while there are parts that you become familiar with, most of it is just streets for you to barrel down or fly over. It may be littered with Riddler trophies, but it does lack a bit personality.
Of course the city was required to be this big because of the Batmobile and it is the thing that most people have picked up as this game’s weakness. I however, didn’t have that many problems with it. In fact the biggest issue is they have it set to a stupid controller scheme at the start of the game and you need to go in and change that. After you’ve done that it’s fine. Now, I do accept it’s not as good as the rest of the game and the fact that Batman supposedly spends part of the one night he has to save Gotham racing around Riddler designed tracks is ridiculous. But most of the time it’s just fine. Although whoever decided to create stealth sections involving the car is a bad person.
These niggles aside though, Arkham Knight still has all the things that make this series so good. Dropping down behind a nameless goon and taking him out before sweeping through his friends knocking them out one by one is incredibly satisfying. While the smart decision to not expand the gadget inventory significantly, keeps it simple enough that you find yourself slipping into the groove almost instantly.
The side missions are really where Arkham Knight shines. Yes, you have things like saving seventeen firemen, (although even that has a cool ending) but you also have some really interesting missions. Various Batman enemies rear their ugly heads and several of them are masterful short snaps of storytelling. In contrast, the main mission is a bit up and down. A couple of poor boss fights, which has always been Rocksteady’s weak point, let down what is generally an engaging story but at times loses its way a bit. However, when it comes together at the end it is great and Rocksteady’s decision to end the franchise seems to have given them the courage to take risks they might otherwise have not dared to take.
Arkham Knight is still not as good as Arkham Asylum, which is one of the best games of recent years. However, it is a wonderfully fun game. It allows you to feel like you are Batman and gives you the chance to spend a night in the world he inhabits. With rumours already circling about what Rocksteady will be getting up to next, it feels safe to say that if it is half as good as the Arkham series, it will be well worth searching out.
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