Rocksteady are signing off the series of Batman Arkham games with the largest, darkest and expansive Batman to date. There is more to do, new gameplay mechanics and a dark storyline with some shocking moments, amazing voice acting and even some dark humor.
The Batmobile makes its first appearance in the series and tries to make up for its lack of inclusion in previous games, by being used at pretty much every opportunity. While fantastic action between Batman and his allies in Robin, Nightwing and even Catwoman deserved a little more time.
All of these small niggles fall into insignificance when you get going with the incredible gameplay, well paced story missions and some addictive side missions to keep you entertained and distracted. All of which lead by the best cast of voice actors you could wish for in a game.
As a package, Batman Arkham Knight is easily one of the best console games of 2015.
Look And Feel
In my initial reaction to finally getting my hands on Batman Arkham Knight, I was captivated by the details Rocksteady had gone to in the game. Raindrops rolling down Batman’s mask, the weathered face of James Gordon and so much more.
As a third party title, on console at least, it really delivers graphical performance to the same levels we’ve seen in games like The Order 1886, specifically built for a console. Casting off the shackles of previous generation consoles has really made its mark with Batman Arkham Knight.
Performance wise too, the game just runs so well on the PlayStation 4 copy I reviewed the game on. After playing the game for way passed the 25hr mark there were two problems. One frame rate dip and I fell through the world when respawning. That was it.
As a console experience it’s really top notch work, to a fantastic level of detail and quality.
Story & Characters
Batman is once again subject to a very long night. In the wake of the Joker’s death scarecrow rises to take over Gotham in, quite literally a cloud of fear. After witnessing the effects of his fear toxin, the city is evacuated but for those who’d relish in an empty city to raise some hell.
Enter Two Face, Penguin, The Riddler and of course, your average thug. But at the heat of it all that is happening Scarecrow and his obsessed, hate filled partner: Arkham Knight, ready to kill The Batman and take his revenge.
The story leads you down a dark path of madness as Batman is exposed to the toxin early in the game leading to an unusual symptoms that provide the game with added depth.
While the story doesn’t go too far to surprise you that much, it tells a good story amazingly well. The voice cast are outstanding in all departments, Kevin Conoroy simply is Batman and is awesome in every aspect of the game, so is Jonathan Banks as Gordon but the stand out performances are in the villains.
John Noble (The Lord of The Rings) is outstanding playing a menacing Scarecrow with some dialogue you just can’t help but be in awe of. To add to it, you have Troy Baker as the unstable and angry Arkham Knight who, once again, puts in a great performance. Add Nolan North as Penguin and some great supporting cast to Batman with Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman it simply has to be one of the best voice acted games out there and it really makes all the difference
It’s also paced nicely, with enough plot breaks to allow you time to do some side missions as you go, but still maintains a sense of urgency that sees you always pulled back into the main plot.
While the plot is dark and involves some decent twists along the way, it’s not particularly surprising or special. But the way it’s told is and they makes all the difference here. It’s, once again, all about quality.
And here we are at the series’ lead element. The Batman Arkham games have all had people absorbed in the free flowing combat, swooping and grappling around the sandbox while you strike from the shadows or just give them an old fashioned beating.
While the same features are within the game there is one big gameplay change that has provided divisive in its inclusion and use. The Batmobile.
As you blast around the city in pursuit mode, the car chases down vehicles and takes them out on the move. But in many cases you need battle mode to take-out waves of enemy drone tanks controlled by The Arkham Knight. This turns the game into more of a shooting experience than you may expect and while it’s certainly not bad to play, the sheer amount of times you are forced into it will put some gamers off playing.
Personally speaking I got a blast out of blowing up the tanks around the city and quite enjoyed the missions that saw you sneaking in the Batmobile to destroy some more powerful machines on the road. There were times it got a little too much and I needed a break from it but it’s certainly fun in small doses.
While this element will divide opinion, the free-flowing combat will certainly have everyone very happy. The addition of the Fear Take-downs where you stalk from above or below and take out 3 or 4 men before they even move is a fantastic addition and really makes you feel like you are Batman. But this comes with some challenges too. Some enemies are too big or skilled to be taken down quickly, some have special armour to block your detective mode and others have electrical defences to keep you away. As powerful and as fast as you feel to be the Batman, the enemies also back some punches back making it much more than just a button mashing exercise.
Predator mode sees you picking off targets from the shadows once more and is my personal favourite element to the game, this, as standard combat, becomes more challenging as you progress and it’s really rewarding to take out a room full of goons who never even saw you. Combat challenge missions are also available from the menu outside of the story which you can tackle as Batman or other characters.
But for me, the best new gameplay addition was the use of Batman’s Allies Robin, Nightwing & Catwoman as at times you combine and flow into combat switching characters as you take down enemies together in both fast paced combat and from the shadows. I wanted more of this so hopefully we get it in some DLC like the upcoming Batgirl: A Matter of Family DCL.
Batman Arkham Knight has so much to the gameplay its that is outstanding I find it hard to criticise the game but the Batmobile in the way its not only used, but insisted upon a lot of the time may be enough to put you off the game but if you don’t mind some racing around and blowing up some tanks then you will simply love playing it as I did.
The story mode lasts over 12 hours and with side missions, especially those pesky Riddler trophies and challenges, plus the challenge mode and a new story plus (with carried over upgrades) you could easily invest 40-50 hours into the game and still have things to do. With a number of DLC packs the game is likely to even better should you go for the season pass.
Personally speaking I simply can’t stop playing the game, I’d like to but I keep trying to do more and get all those riddles and everything 100% as I go for another Platinum trophy. From the visual design of the game to its solid story with an amazing voice cast the game has so much to offer. The gameplay overall is outstanding too, but the Batmobile may be unpopular with some gamers out there.
Still, this does not spoil the game and the quality it delivers and once you start going with it, chances are both you are The Dark Night will be saving Gotham all Knight long.
Batman Arkham Knight Review Format: PS4
Developers & Publishers: Rocksteady, WB Interactive
Gaming Platform: PC Games, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Action Adventure, Open World
Batman Arkham Knight Review
Graphics - 9.5/10
Story - 9/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Fun Factor - 9.5/10
Batman Arkham Knight takes the series down a darker path with some very different gameplay with The Batmobile that developers Rocksteady overused slightly. However, the attention to detail, stunning visuals and incredible voice cast not to mention the classic, fast paced combat and methodical predator missions really make this game one of the best experiences of 2015 to date. It's a fantastic send off the the series and with so much to do in the world you'll find yourself struggling to stop.