Game review: Batman - Arkham Knight
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / PC
SINCE the release of Arkham Asylum in 2009, developers Rocksteady have won plaudits for its Batman games for a very simple and deserved reason. They are fantasies come to life, allowing everyone who holds the Dark Knight dear to step into the shadowy underworld of Gotham and experience its unremitting doom and danger. This is, of course, the aim of every licensed game, but the combination of pleasing physics and an appreciation for the inimitable atmosphere of its subject matter means Rocksteady have set new standards. The British studio’s concluding entry to its Arkham trilogy is the best yet, building on the tense, satisfying combat of Asylum and the open world ambitions of City while throwing in a welter of tricks, moves and gadgets into the mix.
If Arkham City’s attempt to transport the player into a teeming, detailed Gotham were warmly received, the latest title improves upon this open world template in small yet influential ways. The game never takes you by the hand, particularly during the many side missions, where the emphasis is on exploring rain-specked rooftops and dimly lit nooks and crannies in order to fulfil your objectives. Gotham is larger yet at the same time, it feels more structured - the momentum of the main quest encourages you to complete as much of the game as possible.
The narrative is a treat for longstanding fans of Batman
And what a narrative it is. For longstanding fans of Batman, it is a dense treat, rich with characters from the canon, some of whom are relatively minor and shine in their time in the spotlight. The writing may be a little clunky and dialogue hammy in places, granted, but the story is Rocksteady’s best yet, exploring the moral quandaries of its protagonist with style and no end of surprises. Sometimes the best lines and twists are found not in the primary campaign, but the side missions.
For many, the headline surrounding the release of Knight is ability to get behind the wheel of the Batmobile. There has been much gnashing of teeth about how the tank-based combat of the vehicular sections jars with the rest of the game, but it is simple in the best possible way, asking you to dodge, charge and outmanoeuvre while firing an arsenal of upgradable munitions. A few of the missions do try to shoehorn in the use of the car too much, though the way you combine it with other mechanics (ejecting from the Batmobile into a soaring glide is a delight that never gets old) means it never risks turning into Grand Theft Gotham.
Arkham Knight allows you to inhabit DC’s creation like never before
This is a Batman title that allows you inhabit DC’s creation like never before, whether you are gliding from rooftops, engaged in a muscular brawl with a group of n’erdowells or cutting through the city’s dark underbelly at breakneck speed in the Batmobile. In the six years that have passed since the release of Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady have shown themselves to be upstanding guardians of the Batman franchise. Arkham Knight sees them bow out at the top of their game.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Don’t waste time trying to take down the Brutes with hand to hand combat. Lure them near to an environmental hazard and dispose of them that way.
The near fear multi-takedown system allows you to tackle several enemies at once, but it is worth upgrading it as soon as possible so you can up the number of targets.
Use detective mode to identify medics in a gang and deal with them first, otherwise you are making life more difficult for yourself.