Batman Arkham Knight is the fourth game in the Arkham series but the third one developed by Rocksteady games and thus, is being treated like the third game in the series. The game starts with you incinerating the Joker because (spoiler alert), he died at the end of the last game, and then things all go a bit creepy as The Scarecrow has unleashed some Fear Gas into Gotham and everyone has begun to fight each other. Naturally, everyone evacuates the city which is a good excuse to make the streets sparse (such as being Christmas Eve in Arkham Origins), apart from a few militia groups run by the mysterious Arkham Knight, a military commander who’s got something against Batman which you’ll learn about when you play the game.
Of course, most of the other bad guys you’d expect make an appearance are there including Poison Ivy, Harvey Two Face, The Penguin and Harley Quinn. The Riddler is also back to pose a few challenges for you which aren’t just the usual collectible items. This time he makes you do fighting challenges and foot puzzles in conjunction with Catwoman and puzzles and races in the Batmobile – more on that later.
Most of the elements you’ve seen in previous games are there but there are a few new things you can do which hit on most levels but miss a bit on others. The big thing I’m struggling with is the Batmobile. Being used to swooping round the city and grappling onto high points to gain speed, it’s quite a change to jump in the Batmobile and drive around the streets instead. It makes the game not really feel like a Batman game at times and when you hold LT to turn the car into a tank, things are even weirder. The controls completely change which gets a bit confusing and the slidey shooting isn’t really all that satisfying. It seems at odds with the whole game, despite the fact that calling it seamlessly into the action and leaping out of it is very smooth indeed.
It’s a good thing then that everything else is really, really good. When it comes to graphics this looks truly next-gen. Facial features and animations look almost real at times and the weather effects such as rain trickling down Batman’s cape and cowl are fantastic. Combat is also improved with a new Fear attack where you can jump into a group of guys with guns and take up to three of them out one after the other in quick succession, and when it comes to building up a big combo, things seem a bit less clunky if you fumble a button. It almost seems like you can recover a mishit and keep that meter building. It’s still as fun as ever though and I still say it’s the best combat I’ve experienced in a 3rd person action adventure game. Fighting 20 men without getting hit once and keeping a combo going really feels like quite an achievement.
All the gadgets are back including exploding gel and a wealth of Batarangs, and you can also use the Batmobile to help you now, such as by destroying walls or pulling down buildings or giving you a boost before you leap into the air and fly across the city. It’s a good way to expand the puzzling element of the game and doesn’t detract too much from the action on foot.
Predator mode also makes a return where you have to take out a group in an arena and avoid being shot. You can sneak up on people, creep through grates, hang off gargoyles and basically scare the living daylights out of your victims. Some new moves also make their way into this mode such as being able to grapple and slide down chutes and, once you’ve bought some upgrades with points you’ve earned, take people down directly after a grapple.
Once again this is an open world but you do feel like you’re being led a bit more with this one. Some of the islands are locked out to begin with, and you’ll have to get Lucius to upgrade your Batmobile and suit throughout the game in order to unlock new areas when the game wants you to venture there. That’s not a bad thing and at least keeps things on track. You won’t feel like you’re discovering your own adventure but you will have one hell of a blast laying down the law in your own unique way which usually consists of punching people in the face very hard. Batman: Arkham Knight gets 9 out of 10.
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