"Be The Batman" so say the tag line for Batman Arkham Knight, the third and last instalment in the Batman series from Rocksteady, who are arguably the father of the superhero game. How does this epic conclusion stack up to the high bar set by its predecessors? Will it swoop to new found heights, or slump under the weight of expectation? Let's find out!
If you are new to the franchise or even a returning cowl toting veteran the same thrill of the chase will meet you the first time you open up your cape and feel the wind and the city beneath you. The prelude to this opening of the caped crusaders wings is a sorry one. Gotham citizens have been plunged into a frenzied panic as the main antagonist of this game, Scarecrow, threatens to release his fear toxin on the city. The ensuing campaign of terror from Scarecrow will test Batmans mental and physical skills to the limit and beyond! From the start of the game you know that Scarecrow has a very exact plan of how to bring Batman to his knees, and the thrill filled ride that constitutes this journey will stay with me for years to come.
It is clear that Rocksteady have learn the fine work of their craft even more since that last Batman instalment; Arkham City. This time around the game is filled with a wider array of challenges to overcome, and an arsenal that has suitable increased in size to meet this new found danger. Where Arkham City was filled with roles that were barely larger than cameos from many familiar faces from the Criminal Row that makes up the Batman Cannon. In Arkham Knight this has been refined, to the campaign which features several familiar faces, but doesn't hit you over the head with the thought that all of Gothams villains are against you. Fear not though, for these villains still make an appearance, this time confined to side quests through out the massive hulking shape of the Gotham Skyline.
The Batmobile is the most notable contribution to the series making an appearance in Arkham Knight for the first time as a fully drivable vehicle. I always liked the idea of the Batmobile being drivable around the streets of Gotham, and I trusted Rocksteady to pull this new found transportation off with aplomb. One thing I was not expecting to see released under the hood of the suitably menacing exterior of the Batmobile, was what can quite effectively be called a tank. When I took to the streets to fight drone tanks I was still a little spectacle as to whether it would work. This feeling was sadly not blown out of my head the first time I completed a tank battle, however my opinion of the new addition to combat, has slowly evolved over the course of the game. In the end I loved every second I spent in the tank iteration of the Batmobile.
However one of the only things that I think Rocksteady has done wrong with this game are the stealth sections with the Batmobile. Fights taking place against much stronger tanks feel irritating to start with, and this feeling sadly is never shaken. These segments of the game, have you in the Batmobile having to sneak up behind these armoured tanks, aptly named Cobra Tanks, and waiting a few second for your weapons to lock onto the conveniently placed weak spot on the rear of the tank and exploiting this at the expense of the tanks integrity. To start with you are only faced with a small number of Cobra Tanks, one or two to start with, but rather than introducing a new mechanic to these fights, you are instead faced with a growing number of these enemies to best before you can carry on. It is at a discord with the whole game which feels immensely polished and thought though, however these fights feel like a very cheap way of wasting the players time. However it is a mild annoyance compared to the game at large, so I shall speak no more off it.
There are two main themes throughout the medium length campaign which has you taking up the mantle of the Dark Knight one last time. They are Scarecrow, who I mentioned earlier, and the titles name sake the Arkham Knight. Both of these formidable foes are the backbone of the story, and keep the pacing and intrigue at the perfect levels. From the start of the game the Arkham Knight clearly has a very strong vendetta against Batman, though the man under the mask never shows his face. I was totally enraptured by theories of who was under the mask, and though I obviously won't spoil the identity, rest assured I think the reveal is one of the best moments of the game. I say one of the best moments because the Arkham Knight is littered with these amazing, stand out moments that you will remember for years to come! There is a specific mission in the second half of the game, which really throws out the rule book for third person games, and is certainly a segment that I can't wait to play again in the New Game + option given to you after you have completed to game.
Dual Play, is another feature that is making a franchise entry with the Arkham Knight, letting you play either as Batman or three of his companions at specific points in the campaign and side quests. Simply by pressing R1 you take control of the other vigilante and continue to rack up your combo multiplayer. I was sceptical about this addition when it was first announced, thinking that it would get in the way of me progressing at my own pace. However I am very happy to say that it has been implemented perfectly. These occurrences are only on the rarest of occasions, with only two or three such segments appearing in the campaign. This co-operation is never implemented in predator sections, so you can be as slow and stealthy as you like in those encounters. When you rack up a high enough multiplier with either or both characters you can unleash a lethal take down on one unwitting adversary. I enjoy these titbits of co-operation far more than I thought I would, and even wish there were more encounters that utilised dual play, my ultimate goal would be for dual play to be usable during free roam in the main city. Sadly this option is not given to us, maybe for good reason, as traversal might be difficult whilst playing as another character!
Batman goes by many names through out the comics, games and films, and people calling him a detective are not lying. There are more elements to make you feel involved with the investigations than ever before. With truly memorable tasks that are both fun to work out, and rewarding once you have! I must also mention the second of two problems I have with the game. The first as mentioned above is to do with Cobra Tanks, but my second is the boss fights in this game, Rocksteady have never been able to concoct a good boss fight. I obviously won't detail any of these encounters, but let's just say that they live up to the expectation of Rocksteady boss fights. This is a shame because all other elements have been refined by the team over the last few years since Arkham City was released, so it would have been nice to see an improvement in the boss fights.
Batman Arkham Knight is a game that I shall neither forget nor stop playing any time soon. It has raised the bar for both superhero games and third person games in general. I would be sad that this is the last Batman game bursting its way out of Rocksteadys doors(and I believe it is), but I'm okay with this. They have put to bed one of my favourite gaming series of all time, and simultaneously left me wanting what ever game to be released from Rocksteady.
Truly a game for the history books, combining all of my thoughts onto the game, I give you my final score!
Thank you very much for reading,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!