Batman: Arkham Knight is a game that accomplishes what most games strive for but few achieve. An outstanding presentation and extremely polished gameplay mechanics often completely eliminate the disconnect between watching what’s happening on the screen and controlling the action. I frequently found myself so enthralled with what I was seeing that my controller became an after-thought during my consistently seamless experience. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the final chapter of Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy since 2011’s Arkham City, and the developers have delivered a fitting end to the series in every aspect. (NOTE: This review does NOT reflect the issues of the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight)
It’s difficult to discuss the story of Arkham Knight without unleashing a myriad of spoilers, so I’ll do my best to keep plot discussion to a minimum. The game starts with Gotham being evacuated due to Scarecrow’s fear toxin, leaving only the criminals and the Gotham City Police Department inside the city. Batman is tasked with tracking down Scarecrow throughout the main quest-line, while also dealing with a new villain and his overwhelming militia army. The new villain is the Arkham Knight, and he sure seems to know a lot about the Caped Crusader. Batman fans will immediately pick up on the identity of the Arkham Knight, but the reveal isn’t nearly as important as the way everything plays out. The Bat Family is heavily involved, and most of the familiar faces you would expect to show up make some sort of appearance. The plot keeps the player invested and moving forward, and the payoff is absolutely brilliant if not somewhat expected.
Plot is a crucial element to any Batman game, but we all know that’s just a bonus to the reason we’re all here in the first place: gameplay. Knight plays mostly the same as the previous entries in the franchise, with the addition of the Batmobile. Half race-car and half tank, the Batmobile is a force to be reckoned with. Whether you want to take a quick cruise around the city to speed up traversal, or engage in a tank battle with a fleet of the many unmanned drones who now occupy Gotham, the Batmobile is an absolute joy to control. Towards the end of the game some of the driving mechanics can become a bit tiresome, but any frustration that arises is quickly cast away as the next gameplay section begins. Combat is fluid as ever, with great enemy variety and pairings that force the player to advance their skill-level in meaningful and enjoyable ways. Predator sections have gotten a bit of an upgrade as well with the addition of the fear takedown, allowing Batman to dispatch multiple foes at once as long as he has the element of surprise. The core gameplay experience is more of the same for those familiar with the series, but with just enough changes and tweaks to keep it fresh and engaging.
Following in the footsteps of Arkham City, Arkham Knight is segmented into a dozen different quest-lines. These range from the ever-present Riddler challenges, to stopping Two-Face from robbing banks or even using Batman’s detective skills to catch a mysterious serial-killer. Players can choose which quest to pursue at any time during play, and there is enough content here to keep you invested for a few dozen hours. Some of the side-quests are a bit disappointing because what seems like an interesting story usually just kind of fizzles out by the end, but this can be forgiven when considering the staggering amount of content available.
Despite everything that’s great about it, Arkham Knight is not without its faults. The main campaign becomes a bit of a slog around three-quarters of the way through. This fatigue probably could have been avoided by spacing out a couple of the Batmobile sections, or maybe even removing one completely. Insta-fail stealth sections and chase sequences back to back had me frustrated many times, and I was worried for a bit that I’d already seen the peak of what the game had to offer. Thankfully, the feeling subsided as Arkham Knight worked towards it’s climax, and looking back on my thirty hours with it they are an extremely small hiccup in what was otherwise a superb and memorable experience.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the perfect summer blockbuster. It’s a game you can pick up and burn through in a few play sessions to see the story, and will keep you coming back after for the side content and the free-roaming. Controls are tight, combat is bliss, and even something as simples as diving into or ejecting out of the Batmobile never fails to put a smile on my face. Arkham Knight truly makes the player feel like an unstoppable badass and successfully conveys all of the things that I love about Batman. It is for these reasons that I am awarding Arkham Knight the Adonis Immaculate on the Game Awry Review Scale. Batman: Arkham Knight is an absolute must play title and will be the benchmark super hero game for years to come.