When we talk about Game of the Year titles they have a certain pedigree, from its storyline to its wealth of content. The game has to be an all-round gem of a title in order to be considered king of the gaming world. Batman: Arkham Knight just might possibly give The Witcher 3 a run for its money this year and we’re still only in June, with plenty more to come such as Battlefront and Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Concluding the Arkham series, this is the last time we’ll be seeing Batman in the world of Gotham as we know it. The city is in ruins and law no longer has control, as criminals run the streets now. The story is set out before you, with Scarecrow threatening to release a deadly toxin gas on the city. We’re probably all wondering where does the Arkham Knight come in, well you’ll have a pretty meaty encounter with him early on into the game and his introduction is the perfect set up for your arch nemesis this time around.
Not only is it a story told from Batman’s prospective either, as there’s also aid from the likes of Catwoman and Robin. This multi-perspective storyline blends seamlessly into the main plot and it doesn’t just feel like you’re being cast as these characters for the sake of the DC world, but rather as a useful tool throughout missions. You may remember DLC which added Catwoman’s story in the first title, but there’s none of that in this game, which is great to see.
In addition to the main missions, there are also sub-missions, which you can embark on at any time during the game. That’s the great thing about an open-world title, you can pop off and rescue a firefighter or solve one of the Riddler’s puzzles, while tackling the Arkham Knight as your main objective. The whole city of Gotham has plenty of depth to offer you and that’s not just in the form of missions. For DC Comic lovers you’ll also recognise famous landmarks such as ACE Chemicals, a deadly chemical plant used to create Scarecrow’s venomous toxin.
One of the biggest introductions to Arkham Knight is the Batmobile, a gadget-wielding vehicle ready to deal with anything, from criminal scum in the street to deadly explosive tanks – the Bat’s wheels is the perfect choice for getting around Gotham. Not only was it a joy to behold such a clever piece of kit, but it also has a usefulness during missions. It doesn’t feel like Rocksteady have just thrown the Batmobile in for transport reasons, but rather as another outlet to aid Batman. From attaching your wench cable to a nearby wall in order to create an entrance, to using your lock-on missiles on enemy vehicles in the streets, the Batmobile is one of the most deadliest and crucial vehicles in a video game.
It also has a variety of modes, which enable you to switch between cruising through the streets to navigating tight corners on top of buildings. There was nothing more satisfying than creating my own jumps to navigate across rooftops and then using the afterburners to zoom across through the air – even the camera view made it feel like a scene from the movie. My one critic of the Batmobile is that there seems to be a lot of getting past tank sections in order to progress, not only does it feel tedious, but also, as if the developers were trying to find a way to incorporate the deadly vehicle into certain missions. Safe to say, it isn’t used in all missions though and luckily enough, these sections are short and sweet.
Another delight to Batman: Arkham Knight is its combat – with a more meaty and forceful combat system, Batman certainly feels like he’s at the top of his game. You can really feel the power behind each of his swings and linking attacks between enemies has never felt so smooth in the Arkham series. The takedowns are just as brutal as always too, so there’s never a disappointing end to your enemy’s life. I even felt bad sometimes just because of how brutal the finishing move was.
AR Challenges serve as an avenue to rank up your combat abilities, which aggregate across multiple skill trees, from Batman’s combat abilities to the Batmobile’s gadgets. There’s a lot of thought and craft gone into the upgrades and abilities in Arkham Knight and it’s just as crucial that you keep on improving these. Sure, the game feels pretty easy at first and it makes you feel unstoppable, but a little later into the game and you’ll be putting more thought into your attacks – selecting to take down the biggest threats first, before tackling the weak henchman. It’s your typical Batman gameplay at its roots, which is good that Rocksteady stuck to this, as it’s something fans have grown to love.
Despite performance issues on the PC version, the Xbox One version looks stunning and the action on screen runs smoothly, just as it does during combat scenes when you’re tackling a room filled with enemies. After a lot of problems with the console at launch, it’s nice to finally sit back and play some titles without any performance issues. The Batmobile also looks beautiful as the rain lashes down onto it, casting a wet shiny surface on the blackened armour of the vehicle.
When The Witcher 3 arrived, I honestly thought no game could topple this off Game of the Year, but it certainly has close competition now in the form of Batman: Arkham Knight. And let’s face it Batman has a bigger fan base and considering this is the last title in the Arkham series, Rocksteady have bowed out on a high note and I honestly couldn’t ask for a more fitting tribute to the series I’ve played and fallen in love with.
- A Game of the Year contender
- A thrilling and blockbuster end to the Arkham series
- Smooth flowing combat
- Repetitive sections in the Batmobile of having to destroy tanks to progress further