'Batman: Arkham Knight' review - mad world

Friday, 26 June 2015 12:00 PM Written by 

 

ArkhamLogoThe Batman-Gotham relationship has been building to this point: “Batman: Arkham Knight.” For years, Batman has crafted his life around the idea that the crime-ridden streets of Gotham weren’t beyond saving. The events of “Arkham Knight” will push Batman to question this adage. He will be challenged both mentally and physically by Scarecrow, the mysterious Arkham Knight and other super villains in ways that have never been portrayed in a video game. This is how Rocksteady’s story of Batman ends.

 

Rocksteady’s work on the “Arkham” series has carefully crafted its progression. Exploring the haunting halls of Arkham Asylum evolved into gliding over the sprawling city streets of Arkham City. “Arkham Knight” is the culmination of this process. Gotham City is reportedly five times the size of the playable area of “Arkham City,” and now Batman has the long-awaited Batmobile at his disposal.

 

Let’s get this out of the way early. The Batmobile isn’t shoehorned into this world. This vision of Gotham has been artfully realized to facilitate the use of Batman’s greatest weapon, and using it is like a dream. Like all of Batman’s gadgets, the Batmobile is a piece of other-worldly tech. It can speed faster and handle tighter corners than any car that has ever been made. It incapacitates anyone who gets in its way with electrical charges rather than making them roadkill. It has 60 mm cannons and faster machine gun rounds. But this laundry list of abilities isn’t its best. The Batmobile is able to instantly transform into a tank when necessary.

 

Batmobile gameplay is divided into simple transportation, chase scenes and tank battles. By holding the left trigger, the Batmobile switches to combat mode. These scenarios consist of facing waves of drones. The drones display a laser at the location where they eventually shoot. As the Batmobile, you’ll have to dodge those lasers before they open fire. Facing one enemy at a time is easy enough, but multiple enemies display a deadly grid of lasers that pose a true challenge.

 

Batman’s devastator on wheels is even useful when Batman isn’t in it. It can be summoned by remote control when Batman is nearby, and be used to aid him in hand-to-hand combat scenarios by shooting non-lethal rounds at targets. It’s practically augments all of Batman’s powers, which makes total sense by design. That’s how the world’s greatest detective would want his car to work.

 

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Batman doesn’t just have his car to look fresh while he slows his roll down the Gotham streets. It’s quite necessary this time around. Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight have Gotham under siege. The city has been evacuated due to scarecrow’s fear toxin bombs all around the city, and Arkham Knights specially trained militia have overtaken almost every city block. Batman has to summon every gadget he has to even the odds.

 

It’s around the three-hour mark that “Arkham Knight” starts to develop into a Batman tale that stand among the greatest ever told. There are twists and turns that the Batmobile couldn’t even to handle. Batman doesn’t just find himself at odds against a large opposition. His psyche plays a crucial role as a villain, as well. The events of “Arkham City” still linger on his mind.

 

His gadgets aren’t the only thing that fight by his side this time. Other “Batman” cast members show up to help the cause like Azrael, Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman. Each character has his or her own place in specific sets of side quests. Their arcs are contained within those side quests, but they’re not just in the game to show up and say a few lines about how bad Gotham is this time. “Arkham Knight” has woven these characters into the freeflow combat system, which has been the gold standard for combat in action games. By landing hits on enemies, Batman and partner are able to build a combo meter. Once full, the other hero can be tagged in by landing a devastating attack on an enemy, and can then be controlled by the player. Like other combat animations in the “Arkham” series, these tag attacks are incredibly animated and just brutal when viewed in slow motion.

 

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Having heros pop up in side quests adds character to an in-game task that is usually marginalized in other open-world video games. Side quests are given their name because they are tasks that are secondary, or not essential to the core narrative. “Arkham Knight” makes them feel like they are needed. Batman’s job isn’t finished until every super criminal is off the streets. What good is stopping Scarecrow if the Riddler is still at large? Both the story built into these side quests and the actions that are required to complete them make them feel essential to the “Arkham Knight” story.

 

It will take a while to complete everything in “Arkham Knight.” It took me around 25 hours to complete 90% of the game. As is the tradition in the “Arkham” series, the Riddler trophies will be last on everyone’s list to complete. The riddler will stay a free man until every trophy (there are around 250 of them) in Gotham is found. Batman is able to activate the mysterious Knightfall Protocol once nearly all of Gotham’s criminals are apprehended, but I suggest waiting to activate when 100% of the game is complete.

 

What Rocksteady games has accomplished with the “Arkham” series is nothing short of historic for video games. This used to be a medium where games based on comic book heroes were comparable to the quality of games based on movies. Some may have had decent action or gameplay, but games based on comic heroes always lacked the depth that was found in the source material. The “Arkham” series found that depth that is essential to any great Batman story, and then built some of the most satisfying gameplay in the action genre. “Arkham Knight” is the perfect sendoff for their work; the perfect exclamation point. Batman’s “Arkham” story has come to a close. Let us celebrate what it has given world of video games.

 

10 out of 10

 

 

Pros:

 

Largest “Arkham” game yet is enjoyable to navigate by gliding or driving

Side quests that feel essential to the “Arkham Knight” story

Evolution of the freeflow combat with tag attacks

The Batmobile

 

Cons:

Nothing to see here

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