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BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT Review

Way back in 2009 Rocksteady Studios released the video game ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’, this story takes us through the world of Batman like never before. Featuring Freeflow combat, one of the best combat systems in gaming history, along with an invisible predator mechanic. Rocksteady gave players the chance to be the world’s greatest detective, an apex predator, and the ultimate crime fighter. Taking on notable villains like the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Bane, this was one of best the superhero video games of all time. But it didn’t stop there, when ‘Batman: Arkham City’ released in 2011 it was considered the best game on last generation consoles at that time. Batman: Arkham City was an open world phenomenon, allowing new villains to show their strengths, like the boss fights with Mr. Freeze and Clayface. The combat was 10x better than Arkham Asylum and ability to glide anywhere at will made you feel like Batman. Now six years removed from Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady Studio has released their final installment in the Batman Arkham series, ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’.

 Batman: Arkham Knight takes place one year after Arkham City, and Batman is stronger than ever. The story is simple, Scarecrow has returned and has assembled a team of villains including; The Riddler, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Penguin and the mysterious Arkham Knight making this the (second) longest Halloween of Batman’s life. The Arkham Knight’s is such an under uesed character, considering his name is in the title.
For most of the game the Arkham Knight’s identity was kept a mystery, but (almost) any Batman fan could see it coming a mile away. The biggest down side to the main story is that every twist or “unexpected’ turn the story made was obvious to the hardcore Bat-fan. That’s not to say it was a bad story, it just lacked the surprises the previous games thrived on. The story is the weakset of the series with Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum taking the top spot. It felt as if Rocksteady was holding our hand while we played the game. The side missions are short and repetitive and have almost zero purpose. It’s as if Rocksteady thought that Batman: Arkham City was to difficult, so they decided to make an easier story to follow along with easier gameplay.

The gameplay is top notch (like always), featuring new moves and new gadgets that seamlessly flow together like never before. like I said above at times the predator challenges feel easier than they did in the previous games. Batman has his usual gadgets in his arsenal; Batarang, Batclaw, (Batsnacks?) Explosive Gel and oh yeah, the Batmobile. For the first time in the series Rocksteady allow us to use the Batmobile, and they never let you forget it. While at first driving around the streets of Gotham was a blast, it soon grows tiring. Usually Batman uses the Batmobile just to get around Gotham City, but not in this game. You not only use it as a fast way to travel around the city, you use it to climb walls, disarm bombs, and to take out an army of unmanned tanks. While the Batmobile is required a bit to much it doesn’t distract (too much) from the overall experience. The one thing I found odd was the lack of boss battles. With Arkham Asylum having fights with Killer Croc and Bane, and Arkham City having Mr. Freeze and Ra’s Al Ghul, I would have thought at least one major battle would have taken place. But considering none of the main villains pose a physical threat to Batman I do understand the lack of  a major one-on-one battle.

This is the first time in the series that all of Batman’s allies are present. Rocksteady made sure that the fans got to play as Catwoman, Nightwing, and Robin for one last time. The new Dual Play mechanic allows players to switch between two characters seamlessly. This was by far my favorite addition to the game, I only wish it utilized more, hopefully it will be added to the challenge maps. The ability to switch from Batman to Robin without breaking your combo is an incredible feeling! Having Commissioner Gordon, Azrael, Alfred and the rest of the Bat-family be prominent players in the narrative was also a highlight. They were rarely even mentioned in the previous games excluding Alfred and Oracle. The way the story treated these character’s was a bit of a waste, every single member of the Bat-Family gets captured at one point in the story. Aside from that they were all great, just a little underused.

Overall Batman: Arkham Knight is my personal favorite in the franchise even though it’s far from perfect. With the combination of gameplay, story, design, and voice acting (Kevin Conroy, John Noble, and Mark Hamill steal the show!) this is one of the best games on next gen consoles. The fact that you have to complete the game 100% to see the full ending makes it that much more satisfying. Now we wait and see where Rocksteady goes for their next project; personally, I can’t wait.

Note; This review is for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, while the PC version is experiencing major technical difficulties. This review was written for main campaign, not the up coming downloadable content.

Batman: Arkham Knight is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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