Let’s be honest, this whole week was all about Batman, and the next one will probably be as well. Even before we got a chance to see the newest movie centered on World’s Greatest Detective, the Bat-mania was all around us that we decided to have one hell of a Bat-time. So, we took the liberty of playing the fourth (third that was made my Rocksteady) installment in the Batman: Arkham video game series.
Okay, let’s start from the beginning. Since the game is almost seven years old, we won’t put a spoiler-alert warning (FYI, there will be a lot of spoilers), but if you never played this game, we will tell you now that you definitely should, and it’s even better if you don’t know a thing about its storyline. After Arkham City, which is just one of the few games that we can call “a game without flaw”, it seemed like Arkham Knight cannot possibly live up to the name of its predecessor, but regardless, this game turned out to be better than we expected. We thought so back when we played it for the first time, and we can confirm it now once again.
The graphics are very good, and the story is great. While perhaps a little taut, the story was generally put together really well, even better than we expected considering this story wasn’t written by Batman veteran Paul Dini (Rocksteady hired an independent writer this time). The story of course contains a few plot twists, and while we fell for some pretty good (like Barbara’s alleged death), for some we didn’t.
When we talk about the game’s antagonists (which are always a highlight of Batman: Arkham games), of course, there is a whole gallery of Batman villains again, and a great thing is that most of them are in their best possible incarnations, which is helped by fantastic voice acting. Scarecrow is amazing, and like, literally amazing. We didn’t even think he could be done so well, so if nothing else, Scarecrow is what thrilled us the most. Although we loved his small parts in Batman: Arkham Asylum, this just shows that Crane has a lot more potential than it has been presented to us through previous incarnations.
As for the secondary villain, Arkham Knight. Although he gave a good impression at the very beginning, as the game progressed, the character became tiring. It’s not in his favor that you have to beat him three times no less in three different fights to finally get him. The potential isn’t bad, but they really stretched it too much to the end. And it doesn’t help that these fights against him are more frustrating than fun. Here we come to the fact that the game lacks the real boss fights that adorned previous installments. In the end, the best boss fight in our opinion was against the Riddler at the very end, when we solved all his puzzles and trophies. Puzzles are done fine, some are a little harder and can break a few nerves, but nothing insurmountable.
Now that villain whose only mention is the spoiler – the Joker. Even though some fans weren’t happy with how every Arkham game was actually all about the Joker, that didn’t bother us in the least, even more, it just increased our enjoyment. Given what happened at the end of Arkham City, We’re actually very pleased with how they managed to find a way to bring him back and make him so effective again, not to mention the legendary voice of Mark Hamill which takes most of the credit.
But, although impressive, the gallery of villains is not at the level of the one from the City, and we’re not even saying that because of the villains themselves, but because of the character design. Namely, the appearance of certain villains has changed a lot compared to City. This is especially seen on Riddler. While he had a perfect comic book look in the City, here I honestly looked like some retiree in a beach shirt, but luckily, that didn’t diminish his voice acting quality. We need to mention two antagonists that also caught our eye – Firefly and Poison Ivy. Firefly impressed us quite a bit in a little time he had, and now we’re just wondering how the Batgirl movie will present him. Poison Ivy is actually the only antagonist who looks better in this game than in previous games. We have to admit that her role in the game was unexpected, but it made Ivy one of our favorite characters overall.
While we’re on the characters, let’s look at the positives as well. Batman is absolutely perfect, and this incarnation of Catwoman is fantastically done. Great praise goes to Riddler’s missions where Catwoman and Batman work together. But now we have to mention those fights in the middle of which the character being controlled can be changed, which was really great for me. The only pity is that Catwoman doesn’t have her own episodes in the story as she had in Arkham City. Nightwing, on the other hand, didn’t leave us a good impression. Here we have to go back to character design because they gave Nightwing some weird mask that covers half of his head. Although he wasn’t in Arkham City’s story mode, his challenge mode design in that game was much better. The next thing is Robin, although the hood in the City was a good addition, Jason seemed better-looking Robin in flashbacks.
It’s impossible to write a review of the Arkham Knight game without mentioning the Batmobile. Most fans agree that Rocksteady overused the Batmobile in the game, and that’s right, they are. Batmobile, as such, is not a bad idea to insert as an element of gameplay, but the dependence on it in some missions and solving Riddler’s puzzles was unnecessarily excessive. Also, the Batmobile fights, maybe Rocksteady wanted to inject a bit of innovation here, but they didn’t need fights with those tanks that much, especially those main fights against Cobra tanks that you can’t stand if you don’t sneak behind them. Playing stealth in Batmobile? We don’t know about you, but it seemed like a cheap excuse to increase the challenge, but in the end, it turned out to be frustration.
Personally, we think it would have been much better if Rocksteady had inserted the Batmobile only as a means of transportation. Generally, the vehicle is easy to control and the sense of speed as you drive through Gotham is satisfying (vibe of that crazy chase scene from Batman Begins). We must also admit that chasing the Militia leaders was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the boss fight against Deathstroke turned out to be quite disappointing. However, the new design of Gotham should be praised, because it’s well put together to suit both those who like gliding and those who prefer the Batmobile.
When we draw the line, Arkham Knight has certain flaws. But overall, its biggest flaw is actually having “big shoes to fill” after Arkham City. It may have been too much for the game to compete with its absolutely perfect predecessor, but you know how we see it; The Arkham trilogy (not counting Origins because it wasn’t done by Rocksteady) is kind of the equivalent of The Dark Knight trilogy; The fantastic first part as Begins, the flawless second part as The Dark Knight, and the third part that tried to conclude the trilogy as best it can as Rises. For some fans, it succeeded, and for some, it didn’t. For us, regardless of the mentioned flaws, it definitely did! Even though they knew they couldn’t beat Arkham City, Rocksteady still dared to finish the trilogy and afford a satisfying finish.