The first few minutes of Arkham Knight is spent by the player controlling one of the citizens of Gotham City, and then bearing witness to a horrible attack that sets the mood and tone of the rest of the game. Then, and only then, do you finally get to control Batman. Arkham Knight is not about holding the player’s hand and training them to fight crime, it’s about becoming Batman in the most straightforward way as possible: you wear the cowl and fight. While it may seem silly that a game expects its players to have played the previous installments (and AK is still accessible to new players), even we can see the value of having played the other titles. From the back story to the mastery of combat, it pays off.
Take to the Streets
Arkham Knight is a massive improvement over the previous games in terms of visuals and size. The entire city of Gotham is now all yours to explore, and you even get to use the Batmobile to help move around. The car is far more than just a mode of transport however, its presence is heavily worked into the game, and there are many important parts in the story where you will need to put your driving skills to the limits.
The story is that Gotham has been evacuated after a dangerous threat by Scarecrow –leaving Gotham exposed not only to the criminal elements, but also to Scarecrow’s new found partner, the mysterious Arkham Knight and his well armed, and expertly trained army of soldiers. The worst part is that the Knight seems to have a massive grudge against Batman. As if the danger was not big enough, the Caped Crusader is also dealing with the poisoned blood in his system (courtesy of the now-dead Joker), which, combined with Scarecrow’s fear toxins, is causing him to hallucinate about the Clown Prince of Crime.
Feels Like the Comics
The game’s narrative would be right at home with the comics –with the surreal appearances of Joker of taunting Batman at almost every single major plotpoint is one thing, but then you land on one random rooftop and you can still trigger a Joker conversation out of the blue, that’s just an insane attention to detail on the part of the developers. Many iconic series characters appear, Commissioner Gordon, Oracle, and Alfred are back –but so are several new faces: Lucius Fox as well as Bat-sidekicks Robin and Nightwing –both of whom now play larger roles in the game. Catwoman is back too, and has her own mini-storyline involving the Ridder. There is even a little Easter Egg that nods to Huntress and Black Canary for the DC fans to find. And for those of you who played Arkham City, there’s a resolution to the Azrael teaser as well.
Villains naturally fill the game –with Two-Face and Penguin trying to carve out their own territories in the thug-infested city. Other major villains like Ra’s Al Ghul, Mad-Hatter, Hush, Professor Pyg, Black Mask, Harley Quinn and several others appear or at the very least, are mentioned (some you still get the chance to beat up). Poison Ivy plays an important role, though many would argue that her in this game was not that well written (we’re inclined to agree).
Turn Up the Volume, and Play it on the Biggest Screen You Have
To say that Arkham Knight is a visually amazing game is an understatement. You have got another long night at Gotham, and the environment (which changes from moonlight to cloudy to rainy) is amazing. There is no lack of lights either, from the blazing neon signages to the bright red hazard lights of the Arkham Knight’s army, the entirety of Gotham City seems to be illuminated from within. And you get to bask in it all.
The game also benefits greatly to a surround sound speaker (or at the very least, a good pair of headphones). The music is subtle and nuanced, accenting each critical moment or every fight in just the right way before fading away at the perfect time (just present enough to give emotion to a scene but disappears before it brings attention to itself). The sound effects are also well designed –each gadget you pull out of your inventory sounds solid and weighty. More so with the punches and attacks, many of Batman’s incapacitating moves is accompanied by the satisfying sound of breaking bones.
Did we mention that the voice acting is amazing? Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprise their roles as Batman and Joker –which is sure to fill fans with nostalgic delight. Conroy, hands down, still has the best Batman voice ever (and this is post-Batfleck). And of course, no one could ever come as close to Hamill’s portrayal of the Joker (the version of the great, late, Heath Ledger is amazing on film, but it is not the ‘comic’ Joker).