Arkham Knight, the conclusion to the Arkham trilogy that began six years ago, is a fitting end to the Rocksteady Studios-developed saga. With better gear, complex but satisfying hand-to-hand combat combos and an all-powerful Batmobile — a key element of the game chosen for the box art — this title packs more punch than the caped crusader himself.
The narrative this time around sees two primary villains. Scarecrow’s threat to unleash a new and deadly fear toxin has Gotham’s residents evacuating the city, leaving a beleaguered Gotham City Police Department to deal with an assortment of lowlifes, thugs and mercenaries running riot in the streets. The ex-military mercenaries are led by the mysterious Arkham Knight, a tactical genius and hand-to-hand combat expert obsessed with seeing Batman dead.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ve also got the Penguin, Two-Face, a psychotic serial killer, Man-Bat and the pyromaniac Firefly on the loose. The Clown Prince of Crime may be dead, but his presence lingers on in this game perhaps more than either of the first two. The Joker’s legacy — and memory — extends from beyond the grave.
Arkham Knight: All bets are off
Rocksteady has done its best to make things difficult for the vigilante. This time, enemies can spot you crawling through vents and will adapt to how you are taking them down. For example, should you decide to swoop down from a vantage point to silently take out an enemy, the others will start placing mines at the other points. If you decide to attack from below using floor grates, armed thugs may notice your movement and start firing into them. Most significantly, once you’ve started whittling down the number of adversaries, the last few will stick together, moving in formation to discourage any attack on the group.
“We know you’re coming Batman, the [Arkham] Knight taught us all your moves,” is a familiar taunt you’ll face. And they’re right. You can hear an increasingly frustrated Knight telling his troops off by radio. Jammers can track your location when you’re using the sonar-inspired detective mode, while surveillance and attack drones are a ubiquitous feature of Gotham skies.
The gear and the Batmobile
However, Batman’s gear has seen its upgrades. The disruptor allows you to quietly disable enemy guns from a distance; a hacking device lets you turn a drone against its controller; an upgradeable grapple gun lets you shoot across the night sky quicker than ever before; and when all else fails, the Batplane swoops in to deliver much-needed reinforcements to the caped crusader (although not on the player’s demand, sadly). But the single most important tool in the Dark Knight’s arsenal is the Batmobile.
In standard driving mode, the vehicle tears up Gotham’s roads, driving through other vehicles, barricades and even pillars under bridges like they aren’t there. If you switch to battle mode, this racing car-cum-tank features a 60mm Vulcan cannon, missiles and even the ability to hack the many tank drones charging at you as you battle for the city’s streets. But besides the main storyline, dozens of side missions will see Batman’s stealth, combat and tech tested to their limits.
With a satisfying mix of graphic novel references — everything from Hush to The Long Halloween — and original characters (the Arkham Knight is one of these), this game has certainly merited its place as one of the best titles of this year — and the best superhero game made thus far.