The knight comes to an end.
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham franchise first started back in 2009 with Arkham Asylum, and it took the superhero video game scene by storm. In fact, it gave Batman game series a good name with its compelling story and unique gameplay. Sequel Arkham City released in 2011 took everything great about Arkham Asylum, and pushed it one step further. 2013’s Arkham Origins is a step back, but it’s not Rocksteady’s fault, as they were not in charge of developing that game. And now with Arkham Knight, the last game of the franchise, Rocksteady wraps up the franchise in an epic way with everything a hardcore Batman fan can ask for in a Batman game.
Takes place about a year after the events in Arkham City, Scarecrow is back and threatens to take over Gotham City with his newly improved Fear Toxin. With majority of Gotham citizens evacuated and the help of Bat allies such as Oracle, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and Robin, capturing Scarecrow should be easily. However, Scarecrow has an unlikely ally too, the Arkham Knight. A mystery, militarized anti-Batman who’s somehow familiar with the Dark Knight’s movements, and it’s always one step ahead of the great detective. To make things worst, Batman is still infected with Joker’s blood from the previous game, and he’s slowly losing his mind as he’s further exposed to the new Fear Toxin…
The new game expands the map, and now we’re free to explore Gotham City in its whole, and visit some noticeable landmarks such as Chinatown, Wayne Tower, Oracle’s Clock Tower, or Ace Chemicals. No, you don’t have the option to visit Wayne Manor, or visit the Batcave below it. But the city is beautifully crafted with many great details, it’s enough to explore already. Once again, the game is full of easter eggs, and there are plenty to find in the massive Gotham City.
To make traveling easier, the game introduces Batmobile for the very firs time. That’s right, Batman can now roam the streets of Gotham City with his tank-like Batmobile. It’s an awesome way to transport from point A to point B, and it’s really satisfying crushing things in your way, or seeing criminals running away. However, while henchmen on foot will run away upon seeing the Batmboile, it actually attracts some unwanted attention from enemy drones. While Batmobile is a welcomed addition to the franchise, I still prefer traveling from rooftops to rooftops the old fashion way.
The whole addition of Batmobile is really a double-edge sword, as it enriches the gameplay experience, but at the same time, makes the game too un-Batman like. You can transform the Batmobile into a tank with high firepower, and many portions of the game requires you to battle Arkham Knight’s militia drones in an all-out battlefield scenario. The battles seem awesome at first, but the excitement died quickly with me questioning what game I’m actually playing. Even though the Batmobile’s firepower automatically switches to non-lethal upon targeting humans, it’s still strange to have Batman pointing weapons at his opponents.
However, I am happy with Batmobile’s addition as a puzzle solver. Since the Batmobile can be remote-controlled, it provides some interesting scenario where Batman has to be at two places at once, or even sneak up on enemies by either have them distracted by the Batmobile, or Batman himself, and the other can sneak the attack. The best thing? You can summon the car anytime you want when standing in the street. My favorite thing to do is having Batman stands idling on the street, attracts the attention of some lowly henchmen, and scare them away with the sudden appearance of the Batmobile.
Here’s a hint: switch the Batmobile control right now from the default mode to the toggle mode. For some reason, the game’s default mode has players holding the left trigger, and you have to keep hold it, to stay in tank position. It’s a strange design, as players are used to pressing right trigger for acceleration, and left trigger for breaks. Switching to toggle allows just that, and an easier gameplay where you don’t have to keep pressing down a button to stay is tank position.
The classic gameplays have improved too. The new game gives Batman plenty of new abilities, and refreshes what we’ve been doing for the past three games. In battles, Batman can now pick up opponents’ weapons, and it allows him to break through shields, shock batons, or similar annoying weapons. Meanwhile, predator mode brings new fear multi-takedown where you can takedown multiple opponents at the same time. The new takedown is activated by filling up a new fear meter, something that’s charged by taking down your opponents silently. Yeah, it’s always recommended to takedown your opponents silently, but we all know it’s actually possible to beat down your opponents straight up if you can run away quickly. The new fear meter encourages players to be more creative with the takedown process, as the result is truly satisfying.
Yeah, the new game gives Batman plenty of edge, and we even have a new voice synthesizer gadget where Batman can mimic other’s voice to trick henchmen into traps. However, the game also adds many new types of enemies to balance things out. New enemies such as medic can be a nuisance during a mosh pit, as they have the ability to revive knocked out allies, or grant electric shield to others, where Batman cannot harm them until hit them with Batclaw first. At the same time, the enemies’ AI has improved too, as they’re now able to keep close eyes on ground vent and firebombing them upon suspecting Batman is close by. The enemies can also control mini drones that shoot you upon sight, deploy mines on vintage points, and detect you if using Detective Mode for too long. Batman might be stronger, but he has evenly matched opponents to balance things out.
The game also adds sidekicks for Batman to team up with in the form of Nightwing, Robin and Catwoman. You don’t really get to control those characters, but in some scenarios, you get to team up with them fighting side-by-side, or even switch control temporary. After certain combo count, you and your partner even get to perform a dual-takedown with is both cinematic pleasing, and impressive. I only hope we have more opportunity to control these characters, maybe something like GTA V where you can switch characters at anytime?
Batman: Arkham Knight continues the tradition by bringing us some of the most compelling story ever. It finds a smart way to blend all the major Batman rogues into the main campaign, or equally interesting side missions. The game even secretly brings back Mark Hamill in his iconic role, something that’s truly impressive in this information day and age. Even as the true identity of Arkham Knight revealed about a quarter before the game finishes, it’s still packed with enough storytelling that has me hooked til the very end. As of now, I’m finished with the main story already, but I’m still determine to keep on playing, and explore more secrets hidden in the beautifully crafted game.
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham franchise ends on a very, very high note. It’s a step up of all the previous game, and it has a better story, gameplay, maps, and mechanics. The addition of Batmobile is a double-edge sword, but there’s no deny the fun and excitement it brings to the franchise. Batman: Arkham Knight is an excellent game, and a proper goodbye to the beloved franchise.