Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on June 23rd, 2015. Do note that the Windows release was quickly rolled back due to a bevy of technical issues for a few weeks. Thankfully, the version completed for this review was the PlayStation 4 edition so the technical issues were…minimal. More on that later though, Batman: Arkham Knight was developed by Rocksteady Studios to be the final game in the “Batman: Arkham” series of video games. As such, the game had some pretty big shoes to fill as previous games in the series were received fairly well (excluding Batman: Arkham Origins which was developed by another studio to bridge the gap between Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Knight). The game was hyped up for months as fans of both the video games and the titular superhero were eager to see how the series would end. But the question is: did it deliver? Just keep reading to find out, or scroll down to the bottom to see the score but that just leads to reading scores without understanding why the products were given said scores which is an unhealthy habit.

But it will take more than one fight to get his face off. Ha. Get it? Because of the mask?
Batman and the Arkham Knight himself about to face-off!

The story begins on Halloween night one year after the Joker’s death in Batman: Arkham City as Scarecrow unleashes a new strain of fear toxin, prompting a full-blown evacuation of Gotham City. This sets up the game’s setting as it takes place throughout the entirety of Gotham which has been overrun by villains and henchmen. Not only this, but Scarecrow’s fear toxin seems to have taken a different effect on Batman than the rest of Gotham as it blends with Joker’s infected blood which was injected into Batman’s veins in Batman: Arkham City. This leads to Batman being followed around by Joker throughout the entirety of the game and although he does offer some significance to the plot in the end-game for the most part he is just wise-cracking about current events and reminding Batman that his girlfriend died. Although hauntings are usually scary or at the very least annoying, the return of Mark Hamill as the Joker is a welcome one because his lines are top-notch and as expected his delivery is phenomenal.

As for the general plot of the game – it is very much a story you would find in a comic book for better or for worse. Batman glides his way around Gotham City talking to different supervillains, driving around in his Batmobile while being chased by a vengeful new villain who calls himself the Arkham Knight. Speaking of which, the identity of the Arkham Knight turns out to be Jason Todd. The impact of this plot point is underwhelming at most because the fate of Jason Todd was never really brought up in previous games and by the time the player learns about what happened to Jason in that universe they’re not too far away from finding out he’s the Arkham Knight. Even if this information was shared sooner in the game though, it just does not seem to carry that much weight. Maybe if Jason’s fate was introduced in an earlier game the moment would have been more surprising but alas that is simply not the case. The rest of the story aside from this is very standard, nothing really stands out as being super memorable but there is nothing wrong with it either.

That is correct, there is more than one island! The future is now!
This is just one island available in the game.

When it comes to gameplay Batman: Arkham Knight is very varied but variety does not equate to quality by any means. Batman is given a large arsenal of weapons and gadgets to choose from ranging from his standard Batarangs to explosive gel that can be remotely detonated. While this may sound fun these gadgets and abilities are not incorporated into the game’s environment in a logical or even useful way (aside from mandatory story necessities). Yes the player has the choice to use the remote controlled batarang but why would they? It’s not very fast and it merely knocks down enemies instead of incapacitating them. Then there’s the Batmobile which looks very cool but crashes into the environment far too often. This makes it so that it seems much more logical to just fly around as Batman since it’s a lot less likely he will clip the side of a building the same way the Batmobile does.

Audio-wise, Batman: Arkham Knight shines brightly in the voice acting department whereas its not very monumental music-wise. The voice actors for Batman and the Joker, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill respectively, do a fantastic job reprising their roles and the rest of the cast does as well. Playing through an episode of Batman: The Animated Series is always welcome and at Batman: Arkham Knight‘s best parts that is exactly what it feels like. Although the score of the game may not stand out the same way, it is admittedly not as important to the game as it would be to a game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Someone, somewhere, is almost always talking whether it be Alfred informing Batman of his next objective or the Joker making fun of his outfit. So it is understandable that the musical accompaniment takes a backseat to voice acting most of the time.

Gotham should redesign to be more Batmobile friendly. It is the least they could do.
To think something as cool as the Batmobile could end up being so unwieldy to use.

From a visual standpoint Batman: Arkham Knight looks great when it comes to bringing Gotham City to life. From the architecture to the rain pouring down on the city, it really does feel like Batman is traversing a city rather than a large sandbox painted like a city. This does not come without its downsides though as the frame rate of Batman: Arkham Knight can drop (Note: this playthrough was conducted on a standard PlayStation 4 and not a PlayStation 4 Pro). Though there are instances in which character design comes into question, especially when it comes to some of the character’s faces. While the Joker may look the part as a dirty and deranged psychopath, Catwoman’s face is more reminiscent of a automaton at Disneyland.

Batman: Arkham Knight is not a bad game, but instead a very average game that happens to be about Batman. If the player likes Batman and the lore that surrounds the character it is more than likely they will have an enjoyable time. On the other hand if they do not care about Batman or DC Comics entirely the game is just kind of mediocre. Not very bad, but not very good either. It just rests in the middle as a game that can offer different levels of enjoyability to different people.

10 comments

  1. I like the look of the city, and the idea of a game in that environment is intriguing, but the Batman thing ruins it for me. The only hypothetical Batman game I’d be interested in is cel-shaded and based on the original TV series.

  2. Adam West is Batman.
    Maybe, *maybe*, Michael Keaton is also Batman.
    But no one else is Batman.

  3. @Tanzenmatt: Maybe! But he definitely made a good Batman. And wasn’t Michael Caine Alfred? Or was that later? He was a good Alfred, at any rate.

  4. This game feels like a step back compared to Arkham City and Arkham Asylum. Adeki nailed it on the “twist” of the Arkham Knight’s identity, it was completely telegraphed and underwhelming. What is even worse is that, prior to release, Rocksteady kept assuring fans that the Arkham Knight would a completely new villain.

  5. I have heard nothing but complaints about this game since it was launched. I guess the voice acting is its only redeeming feature.

  6. @Imitanis: Pretty much! Nothing else really stands out about to me. It isn’t exceptionally bad to play or anything but it’s just super uninteresting.

  7. The trajectory of the Arkham games makes me so sad.

    Arkham Asylum was perfect aside from its mediocre final boss fight. It was basically a Metroidvania, with a large but contained environment, and an item progression system that allowed players to access progressively more areas of the map.

    Rocksteady then decided to follow this up with two mediocre open world games because bigger is always better, right?

    I fucking hate bandwagons.

  8. @SiliconNooB: I enjoyed some of the combat and stealth additions that Arkham City had but you’re absolutely correct that the move away from the Metroidvania style took a lot of the magic out of the series.

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