Batman: Arkham Knight is the Batman game that I was looking for in Batman: Arkham City. Arkham City was small and felt too dense with stuff with little to no story tie-ins. Arkham Knight finally gave us a sprawling Gotham, the Batmobile and convincing reasons for me to engage with everything. It was really close to being the definitive Batman experience.
My criticisms of Arkham City stemmed from the fact that it felt unfocused and wasn’t the intricately designed game that was Arkham Asylum. Arkham Knight didn’t recapture the tight knit package of Arkham Asylum but I felt the Batmobile helped bridge that gap. I enjoyed using the Batmobile.
I found myself driving around the city instead of gliding because it felt satisfying to drift around corners and crash through things. I found the APC chases exciting as I was fending off henchmen with side swipes, dodging RPG shots and trying to stay on target so that I could launch my immobilizers. The obstacle races required a soft touch but were just short enough that I felt challenged but not frustrated. Generous checkpointing helped but I understand why people were frustrated with each new obstacle.
If I told you that the Batmobile could turn into a tank with a touch of button, shoot high velocity rounds and machine guns in 2013, I’m sure a lot of people would have been over the moon with that idea. The post-release reality was divisive and I am on the side that enjoyed the tank battles — it clicked with me. It was the drive to “headshot” or one hit kill every tank that kept me going. The enemy telegraphed their shots, so it felt like a turn based bullet hell where I had to navigate a maze of oncoming fire while finding a way to retaliate. I enjoyed the challenge but I recognize that there was too much of it. I think I wiped out well over 500 unmanned vehicles by the end of the game.
Last but not least, the Batmobile was also Batman’s newest gadget. Like the Batclaw, explosive gel and Batterang, the Batmobile also served as the solution to many of the game’s puzzles. Figuring out how to get the Batmobile to various places felt a little contrived in spots but I thought it was clever overall. I don’t know how a giant tank manages to stay on a roof without collapsing through, but I didn’t care. Driving on a roof was bad ass.
I caused myself several bouts of frustration with the hand-to-hand combat because I decided to play on hard difficulty but forgot about combo specials for a fair chunk of it which made the game needlessly difficult for myself. The inclusion of medics that can revive and buff their allies with electric shields caused all kinds of grief for me. So I did what Batman would do. I scoped out each situation and prepped like the Dark Knight would and balanced the odds a bit. I felt powerful but I didn’t feel like I was overpowered because the inclusion of those new enemy types like the medic forced me to use Batman’s powers with more precision.
I have nothing but the most glowing praise for Arkham Knight’s visuals and its performance. I was reminded of their debut title, Arkham Asylum and how well it ran on the PlayStation 3. It looked great and ran very well which is a lot more than I can say about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I realize the scope of the two games are completely different but the fact that Rocksteady put in the effort to stay as close as possible to 30 FPS is impressive and appreciated.
My initial source of Batman knowledge came from the animated series of the 1990s and Batman: Returns. I never bothered to go down the route of comics. The latest injection of Batman info came from therecent Nolan films and Rocksteady’s Arkham games. I pick up so much Batman knowledge through the course of the game and even more when I dive into the dossiers. The different Robins, the ongoing relationship between Batman and Joker and the power of the Scarecrow became more prominent to me because of Arkham Knight.
I liked the story of Arkham Knight but there are glaring issues with continuity that were exacerbated by the overly dramatic spin on the villains and their powers through both the story and gameplay reasons. Where did the Arkham Knight get all this money? How was he able to convince such a large force to follow him? Why wasn’t everyone affected by the neurotoxin when all hell broke loose? You had to live moment to moment with this game; don’t connect the dots or else things begin to fall apart.
And for the most part, the game’s structure allowed for that kind of hopping. After each story beat, I was able to switch away from the main objective and go hunt down other threats across Gotham. The Penguin and Two-Face were up to no good again and nobody was going to disarm those mines strewn across the three islands of Gotham.
It took three games but I finally felt compelled to finish the Riddler challenges and all the other challenges to unlock an additional story beat. I doubt it’s a huge pay off but there’s something enticing me to go back. But I want to maintain my sanity and leave that final set of loose ends for another day. I felt satisfied nonetheless and that’s how a final chapter of a trilogy should feel. I felt Rock Steady did all they could for Batman in this game. They gave me a sizeable Gotham city to live out my Batman fantasies and all that entails.
I Like It