I’m a massive Batman fan, meaning I’ve loved the series since the Paul Dini animated show. I’ve been through each of the Arkham games and bought each collector’s edition on release. To me, this is bittersweet, I’ve been eagerly waiting since the climactic finale of Arkham City, but we won’t get any more incredible Batman games from RockSteady, who supplied us with Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and now with Batman Arkham Knight. So with this in mind, I can imagine you want me to cut my sappy intro and cut into the game and I believe it’s definitely on the level of Arkham City, not all the time, but when it is, it’s nirvana for Batman fans.
I think it’s good to address the problems first. There are a few minor gripes to be had, bear with me because the good heavily outweighs the bad. There was this breakneck pace that I really enjoyed in Arkham City, Arkham Knight is definitely a little bit longer, clocking in around 12 hours for my full main story run compared to maybe 10 hours for City. The thing is that some of these missions are lackluster or repetitive. I enjoyed 90% of the story missions, but the other 10% didn’t feel necessary, and really stood out as filler/time killer content. Pacing isn’t at its greatest and the Batmoblie is at fault here. While the car itself is great and has some excellent chase missions, when it transforms into a tank, it feels right and controls well, but there are too many missions that involve the tank. That’s it.
The Batmobile is obviously the biggest addition to the series and once you get past its control scheme and handling, you’ll welcome the it as it feels like it belongs and is well represented in the game. Chase sequences are thrilling and you feel like you’re going fast and it’s exhilarating at times. RockSteady has also tweaked the combat just a little bit and added in some enemy variety to make the already amazing gameplay into something even better. Like Arkham City, Arkham Knight really does make you feel like you’re Batman; not invincible, but one of the most foreboding and brooding combatants that anyone could encounter, and at times The World’s Greatest Detective.
The game’s story really shines the brightest among the series. Themes and circumstance of certain characters have progressed and led us to this finale, and it all feels so right. Knight has its twists and turns, John Noble as the Scarecrow makes for a solid and chilling villain. The Arkham Knight himself isn’t the most prominent in the game that is titled (partly) after him, but when he is, he serves as an interesting tour-de-force. Curiosity lingers as to who he really is, and through the game the puzzle puts itself together and gives us a mostly satisfying conclusion to his arc. Speaking of conclusions, this game has one of the best I’ve ever played. Though it may be more geared towards those who are hardcore Batman fans, you’ll understand the more head-scratching parts of the game once it finishes. I really wish I could talk more about it here because it’s absolutely phenomenal, but there are far too many spoilers and things I can’t talk about in this game.
The connection to the other Arkham games is uncanny and it shows in the main story and in its side missions. Remember the Hush or Azrael side missions in Arkham City? You get closure to those in this game, and it feels great. There are some excellent side missions and an abundance of Riddler trophies to collect in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the series: Knight is about five times larger than Arkham City and you can tell, it feels like a living, breathing Gotham city.
There are some other parts of the game that seem odd, for example, the lack of boss fights and some interesting character decisions. Though it’s the bastard child of the series, Arkham Origins really shined in giving us great boss battles and City gave us an excellent boss battle as well. It’s a bit of a bummer to see that absent, but it doesn’t really detract from the game. However, Gordon and Batman particularly make some strange and out of character decisions. When we look back at these in hindsight by the game’s end, their logic and circumstances are justified.
To round out the game, we have a terrific score that really gives off a great Batman atmosphere that composer, Nick Arundel, has continued to embody throughout this series. RockSteady has really honored the Batman lore. There were so many moments that I’ve read from the comics that were brought to life, and it pleased the fan in me, and made me giddy to discuss with others. As this is RockSteady’s swan song to the Batman franchise they’ve gone out in grand fashion. Perhaps it can’t reach the constant heights of Arkham City (sometimes), but a lot of the time it does and it exceeds what City has done in certain moments. It’ll be interesting to see what Arkham Knight cements itself as after a few months and the dust has settled. One thing is certain though: it’s one of the best Batman experiences to be had, and definitely delivers for the fans and those who have loved the Arkham series.