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Batman: Arkham Knight was certainly one of the most popular superhero games in recent times. Here, our Dan Attlee looks back at the game and assesses its success in moving the niche forward.
Looking Back At Batman: Arkham Knight
I didn’t purchase the final game in the Arkham series when it launched last year. It wasn’t a game that was really on my radar, as I was far too busy giving up my life to The Witcher 3. However, as the game is currently in the PSN summer sale, I thought I’d give it a go. Overall, Arkham Knight implements tried and tested mechanics from the previous Arkham games to great effect. New mechanics, such as the Batmobile, are hit and miss, but ultimately it delivers a compelling story that provides fantastic fan service.
The Arkham series is renowned for being fun and enjoyable, but the beginning Arkham Knight was a bit of a slog. The game begins with the incineration of the Joker following the events of Arkham City. The player is then treated to a first person segment as a GCPD officer before finally taking on the role of Batman. The story takes a bit too long to kick in, but when it does, it’s fantastic. There’s a major revelation mid way through, and while it doesn’t take The World’s Greatest Detective to guess the identity of the Arkham Knight, the reveal was executed well. It is a shame then that the unravelling of this story is sometimes mired by less than stellar gameplay.
The tried and tested combat of the Arkham series shines yet again in the final instalment of the series. Fighting the thugs of Gotham is always fun, and the new environmental takedowns add some new variety to combo-building (but does leave you wondering if that dude you just rammed head-first into an electric box is pacified or dead). It controls fluidly as it has always done, although I did notice that I got hit from behind a lot without seeing the counter icons – the camera seems closer to Batman than previous games. The biggest disappointment for me was the Batmobile. Considering the assumed weight and power behind this monstrous car-cum-tank, it controls like’s its on skates. Needless to say I was hitting a lot of walls. The tank mode button is mapped to L2, the natural position for the brakes, which are mapped to the square button. I cannot tell you the amount of times I pressed the wrong button to brake. There also seems to be an over-reliance on the Batmobile as a whole, as it is used, in my opinion, far too much for narrative and gameplay purposes, as if the game is built more around the car than the Caped Crusader who drives it.
Batman’s arsenal also gets some additions. The disruptor disables enemy weapons and equipment, and the voice synthesizer lets you give orders to thugs to lure them into traps. The freeze blast and the REC Gun also make comebacks. Finally, the predator sections are much less linear and dispersed than in previous games, and the new multi-takedowns wreak havoc on unsuspecting grunts. There’s more challenges to deal with too, such as remote-controlled drones and enemies that are impervious to Batman‘s detective vision.
In terms of content, Arkham Knight is packed to the roof of the Batcave with things to do. The Riddler, who seems to have developed an affinity for building race tacks that make Death Race look like Hot Wheels, has scattered over 250 conundrums throughout the world for you to solve. Taking the form of the aforementioned races, the ever troublesome Riddler trophies and some actual riddles, they’ll provide you with real mental stimulation. There’s also a whole host of sidequesting, from taking out militia outposts to rescuing firemen to taking down Gotham’s most wanted. Many of the series’ favourites crop up, such as Two-Face and Harley Quinn, as well as new villains to the series like Professor Pyg and Man-Bat. The only way to get to true ending is to 100% the game, which provides a worthy but slightly grindy challenge for all you completionists out there.
When it comes to production values, Arkham Knight doesn’t pull any punches. Gotham City looks absolutely glorious, complete with all the landmarks. You’ll be grappling to the top of Wayne Tower and flying over the Botanical Gardens as you scour the city for thugs to beat down. There’s traffic in the streets, and while there isn’t much vehicle variety, it makes the city feel more alive. All the interiors of the game are wonderfully detailed too, and vary from sewers to offices to construction sites. The sound quality is also top-notch. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as the Dark Knight, while Troy Baker portrays a host of villains including Two-Face and the Arkham Knight. Mark Hamill is also present as the Joker.
Batman: Arkham Knight gives a good sendoff to the series. The game is mostly fun to play, but there are certain sections that feel a bit repetitive. It’s Achilles’ heel is the Batmobile, with it’s far from tight controls and overbearing function within the game. It does, however, give the player much to do and plenty of pretty things to look at as they once again clean up Gotham.
To the Batcave!
Do you have fond memories of playing Batman: Arkham Knight?
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Batman: Arkham Knight gives a good sendoff to the series. The game is mostly fun to play, but there are certain sections that feel a bit repetitive. It does, however, give the player much to do and plenty of pretty things to look at as they once again clean up Gotham.