Batman is back and this time he has brought his car, which is just as well, because Gotham is in a state of panic following the arrival of Scarecrow and his fellow villains. Just how will Batman cope? Well, he does have Robin.
Arkham Knight certainly makes an impact right from the off as you incinerate The Joker's body by pressing a button, there's no messing around here. Following this, you step into the shoes of a cop, which leads to the main story of Scarecrow threatening to poison the whole city unless everyone leaves. His threat has the desired effect. So with all that happening, it’s then time to pan to Batman, who is taking up his usual position perched above the city, before the night sky lights up with his symbol and the adventure begins.
While much of Batman’s story is a no go area due to spoilers, it’s still possible to talk about what’s new and what stays the same. If you’ve played a game in the series before then the combat and gadgets will bring the familiar. Batarangs are still guided to switches or steered to scan areas. You also still have detective vision, which will allow you to scour the area for threats and targets. You will also get to fight on occasion using other characters, however mostly things feel the same in terms of controlling Batman and his arsenal of equipment and that’s just fine with me.
The main new addition to Arkham Knight is one I’m not particularly keen on, the Batmobile. While it’s had praise in other reviews, for me using it is more of a chore than a pleasure. At the start of the game you’ll be speeding around in a full-on car chase and for me these are the parts I enjoyed the most. However when it comes to vehicle combat I feel it is both repetitive and slightly unrealistic feeling. For instance, during vehicle combat you’ll slide from side to side, firing rockets at the tanks which surround you from all angles. It’s repetitive, but it also feels like you are ice skating at points. Other parts of the game will have you trying to solve puzzles by driving along pavements before using your winch to pull elevators or create ramps for you to jump from. Does the Batmobile make getting around Gotham better? Well when you can climb up to the highest point in a matter of seconds and then glide anywhere you want, not really.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some parts where the Batmobile comes in handy, like when you are surrounded by enemies and you can simply hit a button to shoot down the enemies or even perform a Batman/Batmobile combo takedown. It’s also pretty fun speeding around the streets using the turbo boost. But thinking about the vehicle combat just puts me off all over again.
Perhaps if the game didn’t rely on the Batmobile sections so much it would be a bit more of a novelty, but using the vehicle to blast through tanks soon wears thin, which is a shame, because as a spectacle Arkham Knight is otherwise quite special.
Moving away from the Batmobile, it’s good to see that Batman has plenty to keep him occupied. As well as the main story, Batman has to deal with other villains such as Penguin, Two Face and Riddler, the latter of which has kidnapped Catwoman. You’ll also spend time trying to stop Firefly from burning down fire stations, and then there’s the mysterious serial killer who is crucifying bodies, that’s more one for Sherlock, but Batman is a detective in his own right.
You can switch between different missions and they are all well integrated into the game, becoming available at set times within the story. Batman will constantly be moving on from one issue to another, all the while hunting down Scarecrow and trying to stop his dastardly plan from taking effect. There’s even more to do too, such as taking out gang outposts and observation towers, stopping bombs, finding Riddler trophies and more. So you’ll never be short of something to solve.
If you’ve played before then you’ll know that as you progress XP will become available, which you can then trade for more abilities. This allows you to become a stronger, a better fighter and of course improves the abilities of the Batmobile too. The new abilities make combat more complex, but more fun at the same time. On occasion it can get a little confusing since there becomes so many control options, however you’ll soon get used to it.
The most impressive parts of Arkham Knight in my opinion are when you are scaling the heights of the city, gliding your way to yet another part of the story and it’s a story that is told extremely well, thanks to a combination of great acting and some stunning presentation. Arkham Knight really looks into the soul of Batman and that’s what makes for a gripping game. It’s not just about combat, but more about who Batman really is. You feel like you get to know him throughout the story and this more than makes up for the rather lacklustre ‘Batmobile’ sections, which are certainly a low point in my opinion.
Overall, Batman Arkham provides what’s expected of it. Much like other popular games series, it doesn’t deviate too much from what is an already successful formula. There is plenty of familiar here and combined with a strong story that is most certainly welcome. There are parts to the game which feel added in for the sake of it and that takes a little from the overall package, however as a spectacle Batman Arkham Knight is most certainly a dark and broody winner.
Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Great Story
+ Fantastic graphics and presentation
+ Good voice acting
- Batmobile levels are a grind