Batman: Arkham Knight — The Hero We Wanted
Batman Arkham Knight is the greatest superhero game I have ever played. To be fair there isn’t much competition out there, save for Spider Man which is a PS4 exclusive and thus inaccessible to me, and the Lego Marvel/DC games, though I’d categorize those as “Lego” games rather than “superhero” games. Warner Bros have essentially cornered the superhero market in the video game space but despite this, continued to put out high quality Batman titles. Arkham Asylum was touted as being one of the greatest games one PS3/Xbox 360 and though Arkham Knight may not reach those lofty heights and often takes a backseat to its predecessors critically, it remains an incredible game and cemented Batman as the greatest superhero in gaming.
First and foremost I need to gush about the beautiful visuals in the game. The sprawling darkness of the night paired with the colorful neon lights of Gotham give the city a sense of foreboding and dread. Graphically the game holds up well despite coming out towards the beginning of the Xbox One/PS4 generation. Although the landscapes may not be impressive as those of The Witcher 3 or Red Dead Redemption 2, Arkham Knight makes up for this through its detailed character models. Batman’s suit looks amazing and goes from clean and pristine at the beginning of the game to torn and ragged by the end. The Joker makes his return as well (although not physically) and hasn’t looked more menacing since his appearance in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”. Catwoman absolutely oozes sex appeal with her skin tight jumpsuit and seductive voice. Gamers will often cite Lara Croft or some girl from Final Fantasy as the fictional video game woman of their dreams, but for me, it will always be Catwoman. Truly an absolutely beautiful game.
If you’ve played any of the other Arkham games you’ll feel very familiar with Arkham Knight’s gameplay. Arkham is best known for two main facets: brawling sections and stealthing sections. Let’s start with brawling, a direct confrontation with zero stealth involved. These encounters give you an opportunity to experiment with the different tools that Batman has at his disposal to string together cool combos. I enjoyed these brawling sections a lot, but it seems to me that you can clear most of these encounters by mashing the attack button and hitting the counter button every once in a while. Arkham’s brawling mechanics are counted among the and have been replicated in other games over the years, but it does leave itself vulnerable to turning into a mash-fest.
Although the brawling was certainly a lot of fun, I think most of us fell in love with the Arkham series for its excellent stealth sections. When reviewers say that this game makes the “feel like Batman” they’re talking about these sections in particular. These sections require you to strategize in isolating members of a group and taking them without being spotted. There are a plethora of gadgets and movement options at your disposal, giving you plenty of choices in how you want to carry out the task. You can swing around from the ceiling and drop down on unsuspecting victims. There are vents underground you can crawl in, objects in the world for you to hack and blow up, and smoke bombs for when you get spotted and need to make a quick exit. This is true of the past Arkham games as well, but it really puts you in the mindset of a sneaky guy like Batman.
Arkham Knight brings about a third pillar to go along with brawling and stealthing, and that new pillar is tank play. A lot of people weren’t happy with this addition, as it’s not exactly Batman’s style to blow stuff up with a tank. But I actually really loved the tank sections as well. I loved dodging my way around the hordes of drones and every hit I landed felt meaty and satisfying. Was it the most advanced or groundbreaking gameplay that I’ve experienced? No. But it provided some nice variety to the gameplay and I’m glad that they’ve added it to the game.
I am by no means a big fan of superheroes. I’m much more familiar with what Shounen has put out over the years than I am with Marvel or DC. If you asked me what my favorite superhero was as a kid I don’t think I would’ve had an answer for you. Ever since I’ve finished this game, it’s been Batman, and it’s not even close. I think that should count for something right?
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10