Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Batman: Arkham Knight Review

The Arkham series has stuffed a lightning rod up the rear end of superhero games and proven that licensed gaming can be awesome, Rocksteady had been promising that Arkham Knight would and this series so it was imperative that it was the definitive Batman game. This is no easy feat because Arkham City just so happens to be one of the finest examples of great game design available.

In short, it succeeds.

Arkham Knight wastes no time whatsoever in introducing itself. You swoop into action and the story takes off, of course new mechanics and the Batmobile are introduced and explained but the game doesn't patronize you, it knows there have been Arkham games before it. 

'I'm Batman!' Nice to meet you...
The big differences for this game are the open world city of Gotham and the Batmobile. Being able to see the sights of the city and tear through the streets in your supercharged tank is incredible and, though the game world isn't as fun to explore as Skyrim or Los Santos, the details in the city are amazing. Its also cool to be able to see things like the Queen Industries offices or Oracle's clock tower. The Batmobile handles perfectly, it feels speedy and nimble but is powerful and tank like at the same time. When you aren't driving at high speed and need to fight or use the car in puzzles you can go into battle mode which essentially turns the Batmobile into a full blown tank with a cannon, machine gun, riot suppressor, EMP, missiles and a winch. Everything you need to take out tanks and thugs and solve puzzles. While I personally prefer gliding across the rooftops and occasionally the tank battles can be a bit of a repetitive, button mashing nuisance the car is by and large a fun and genuinely interesting addition to the series.

Otherwise gameplay is largely what you would expect from an Arkham game, you take out thugs via a mix of stealth and brutal hand to hand combat, as the game progresses they use more weapons and tricks to stop you, like gun turrets and electrified suits. Your time is split between fighting goons and solving puzzles or using the Batmobile to decimate drone tanks. There are also a number of boss fights. Some reviews have claimed there aren't any boss fights and whilst they aren't quite the same as the ones from previous games in the series they are undeniably boss fights - there are health bars and everything! There is nothing as exciting as the fight with Mr. Freeze but the fights are all enjoyable. 

Look at how good it looks!
The story focuses a lot on fear, to be expected given that Scarecrow is involved. The game explores Batman's worst fears and even turns the fear camera on some of the villains but I won't spoil anything, it's too brilliant for that. The Arkham Knight isn't particularly mysterious in terms of who it turns out to be but he is a great villain, he is theatrical, intimidating and really knows Batman's strengths and weakness, you get the feeling that he could beat you. Being the last game in the series there is a very 'kitchen sink' approach to the story, with just about every iconic Batman character and location that could be squeezed into the game present and accounted for. Everything is presented in stunning form, with jaw dropping graphics, voice acting and a superb soundtrack.

The best thing about the game though is that it makes you feel like Batman. Each Arkham game has managed this but none more so than Arkham Knight. You spend most of the game feeling like an absolute badass and that is a great feeling.

As the final game in the series Arkham Knight well and truly delivers. The gameplay, graphics and story all represent the series' high point and if Rocksteady really are done making Batman games then fair play to them for crafting a near perfect swan song.

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