Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
GAME directors have a colossal task. The creation they are over-seeing will be explored on an intimate level and for it to truly succeed, every aspect must not only be of a high quality, it must work in sync with all other components in the game. Batman: Arkham’s series director, Sefton Hill, is possibly the most accomplished director to date.
The latest of Rocksteady’s three Detective Comics epics is beautiful, outstandingly detailed and does not forget to interact with the player; both in play and emotionally.
Everything about Arkham Knight is tuned to make the player feel like the hero to be feared. Iconic moments from film, tv and comic books have been artfully selected, adapted, written and re-written to make this the most comprehensive and best outing of Batman in any media (yes even yours Mr Nolan).
The slab of city presented in Arkham Knight does not initially seem huge but the dense amount of detail makes it so. It looks and feels how Gotham should, taking inspiration from the gothic noir animated series with tasteful splashes of neon and gang graffiti.
For extra variety, there are numerous sequences that take place in flash backs and Scarecrow’s fear dreams. A stand out moment for myself, meant to be nothing more than a minor contextual section, was a five minute scene playing as Jim Gordon. It showed Gotham with a bright sunrise illuminating the city as never before seen in an Arkham game; it looked fantastic.
With the larger map, there is a new way to get around; the batmobile is a staple in Batman’s arsenal that until now has made only cameos in the Arkham series. The new Nolan inspired ride for the dark knight is everything it should be. It looks equally stunning as it does scary, it’s versatile, it’s fun to drive and with its own A.I. it can be summoned from anywhere on the ground.
Without the batmobile there would certainly be something missing from Arkham Knight, every sequel needs that extra ‘thing’ to excel from the set formula. Yet there are occasions when the batmobile is required in a puzzle where the handy pocket gadgets used to suffice.
It’s still fun to use, but it loses the feeling that Batman is a formidable single unit with everything in his belt. Having a remote controllable tank at your disposable can make it seem unfair on bad guys that prize themselves on having mental conditions instead of super powers.
All previous components from Arkham games return with interest.
The combat has been improved; with faster movement, bigger enemy groups and more challenging opponents. Detective mode has greater depth; murder victims can be scanned at a near cellular level. The Riddler’s riddles once more give every minute detail a moment in the spotlight while putting a twist on the collect ‘em all formula.
There are also optional races crossed with puzzles for the batmobile that are far more enjoyable than I first imagined.
I will not give anything away about the story, what I can say is that Rocksteady have outdone themselves. Characters and their actions are explored in detail, enforced by some stellar voice acting and a talented cast.
There is visible inspiration taken from Judd Winick’s ‘Red Hood’ (personal favourite) storyline along with some of Batman’s greatest hits, but it never feels like a retread.
I was gripped from when I first answered the call of the bat signal to when the credits rolled, leaving me to gawp in shock at my reflection.
Besides the exceptional gameplay and story there is also the matter that everything consistently looks impressive, character models have the trademark creative flare of the series, animations are fluid and the environments are interactive art.
Batman: Arkham Knight is currently the best game of this console generation and the sweetest thing to happen to DC since Heath Ledger.
+ Successfully pulling off a 50 hit combo
+ Quality performances
+ It’s a detailed and well written love poem to everything Batman
+ Gobsmacking visuals at all times
- Batmobile occasionally feels out of place
See full story in the County Times