Batman Arkham Knight
July 2, 2015
Notice: Spoilers ahead!
There will be spoilers in this review covering some of the main points of Batman Arkham Knights plot, so if you haven’t finished the game or do not want to spoil the game for yourself then I advise you come back to this review at a later date.
Lets get started!
Just before Batman was due for release I was in a predicament, I had no funds to secure a copy of the game, so I was going to have to wait till the end of the week to get it. First world problems right? but fortunately due to a tattoo booking taking less time than I expected… I had leftover money to waste and did what any Batman fan would do in my situation. Go and get the game!
I did not regret that decision at all, I expected and hoped for good things to come from Batman Arkham Knight and it looks as if my expectations have been exceeded. Even after a short few hours into the game I was already hooked and dying to get through the story. With work and personal commitments I found myself spending the Friday after release almost doing a full night of gaming. Was up for work at 6am that day, didn’t go to bed till 6am the following day. But it was well worth it!
So wheres the Nice & Crispy episode…
I was in the process of writing a Nice & Crispy episode for this game but I was far too engrossed in the story to take myself away from it, that and I did not want to end up coming across spoilers about the plot and ruining it for me. On that note, I will say the story was very predictable in regards to the outcome of some aspects of the story unfolding. But there were a few scenes that I did not expect and had me on the edge of my seat. But before I ramble on any further, let’s get started on this review.
Ever since the reveal of Arkham Knight I was eagerly anticipating the release of the game. I was a big fan of the first two Batman Arkham games of the series, so I had high hopes for what would come of the final game in the series. Batman Arkham Knight, the sequel to Arkham City takes place nine months after the events of Arkham City. It seems seems like a time of peace within the City of Gotham due to the decline of criminal activity, but this time of peace is abruptly brought to an end when Scarecrow threatens to attack the city by unleashing his fear toxin into the city. In no time at all the city is evacuated mostly leaving the Police and various criminals / thugs behind. With Gotham city in turmoil and things looking grim for the Dark Knight, will he make it through the night or will the Scarecrow succeed in finally putting an end to the Batman. Lets find out!
I’ll be highlighting the main aspects of the story for me, so I won’t be going into great detail on everything that happens, but I’m pretty much covering some of the main events that happen in the game. So you have been warned! If you are looking to view some videos from my playthrough, please check out the channel.
The story of Arkham Knight focuses primarily on Scarecrow trying to bring the end of the Batman and his legacy, aiming to reveal his identity so the world can have a person to blame for all the wrongdoings that have happened in Gotham over the years. Scarecrow is not the only foe we are faced with in the main campaign, we are also pitted up against the Arkham Knight who has a grudge against Batman and ultimately wants to make him suffer before taking his life and the Joker who is battling Batman from within to take control of his body, the effects from being poisoned by the Joker’s blood during the events of Arkham city. Joker is basically with us every step of the journey in this game, making wise cracks at Batman and his those around him. Although Scarecrow takes the spotlight in this game we never really face off against him as such, which is quite disappointing as some of the nightmare scenarios from Arkham Asylum would have been great to see here. As I was saying, Scarecrow may be the main villain of the game but we mostly deal with Arkham Knight, his forces and the Joker.
Barbara Gordon’s death
This scene and the build up to it was quite intense, to be honest I didn’t expect her to die. The only time I questioned her safety and foreseeable future was literally the moments leading up to finding her behind the glass. Batman is forced to stand and watch the Fear Toxin take control of her, striking fear into her and thus encouraging her to take the gun from the desk and use it to end her life before Batman could. Well, thats what we are led to believe anyway.
Watching Batman fall to his knees after it, realising he had failed not only her but the commissioner and Tim as well. Alfred attempts to keep pushing Batman to strive on and not make her death be in vain, but we can tell that he is struggling to cope with what has happened. Fortunately we learn that she is actually alive and the entire death scene was actually the Fear Toxin affecting Batman, Scarecrow used it as a ploy to ensure the commissioner would work for him to try and make sure the Batman would fall into their trap. As you can imagine, all ends well and she is successfully saved, resulting in being back in action to assist Batman for the remainder of the game.
The Arkham Knight
As the story unfolds we dual the Arkham Knight and Joker multiple times, leading to our final encounter with Scarecrow. The Arkham Knight battles are primarily tank based fights until our final dual which is mostly focused on taking out enemies and sneaking up on Jason from below to take him down. It’s not until our final duel with the Arkham Knight we learn his real identity which is Jason Todd, the former Robin who was kidnapped by the Joker and tortured quite some time ago. Believed to be dead, Batman never continued searching for him which resulted in his hatred toward his former mentor and ultimately pushed him to act out his vengeance toward Batman. After their fight Jason appears to vanish. I wished there was more to the Arkham Knight than this as it feels that he vanishes too quickly, although he does make one last appearance in the main story, which was nice to see but I still would have loved to see more. Although the build up to his reveal with the hallucinations of Jason being tortured were a very nice touch which gave those who maybe knew little about Jason Todd and his story an insight as to how he turned out the way he is in the events of this game.
Jokers battles are set within Batman’s mind in which the Joker tries to trick and make Batman give in to him so he can take over his body. It’s not until the end of the game we see what is portrayed as the Joker successfully taking over Batman’s mind and wreaking havoc across the city. After some interesting scenes including a Joker themed Batmobile slaughtering a group of thugs and the Joker himself killing some of Gotham’s most iconic villains we slowly realise that this in fact Jokers nightmare and that Batman is fighting the battle for control and winning. After scaring the joker enough the Batman comes back and seals the Joker within his mind forever. I personally loved all the moments between the Joker and Batman as there was so much twisted humour and intense moments, one of my favourite examples is when you check your voicemails in Wayne Tower. After listening to a few of them you’ll get one from the Joker himself where he pretends to be Bruce’s parents, brutal but hilarious. Without a doubt my favourite Joker sequence was the final one in which we see the Joker appear to have taken full control over Batmans body and begin to wreak havoc in the city of Gotham. We see him wipe out tons of henchmen and some of Gotham’s finest villains. It is truly intense section to the game which had me questioning whether or not this was actually happening, is it bad that I almost wanted it to be real? Unsure how I would have liked that to end if it was the case but it could have been interesting.
Wrapping the story up
In the climax of the main story Scarecrow unfortunately manages to get Batman to surrender and thus results in his identity being revealed. Resulting in the end of Batman, now that the world knows who was under the mask how would he be able to live a normal life? Obviously things would never be the same for Bruce Wayne or Batman, so he does the only thing he can do. He steps down as Batman and prepares the Knightfall protocol. Before doing so he ensures to clean up the city one last time before making his final departure.
The Knightfall protocol was devised by Bruce Wayne as a last resort if his true identity was to ever be revealed. Once preparations are complete Batman removes his cowl and makes his way back to his home. Almost instantly after being greeted by Alfred and walking through the front door, the mansion blows up leading the players to believe that Batman has sacrificed himself and Alfred. I personally hope/feel that he did indeed fake his death, just so that the public would believe that Batman is gone. I personally can’t imagine that he would kill both himself and Alfred as easily as its portrayed in the ending sequence. There’s no real hard evidence pointing either way so the ending is up for speculation.
There is an additional cutscene which plays if the player has completed all the Most Wanted missions, which raises even more questions about what truly happened. I’ll leave that as a surprise for those who haven’t seen it yet, but readers are more than welcome to share their thoughts in the comments.
Personally I loved the story and feel as if it was the best one yet. There were many moments in which I was left with my jaw dropped questioning what had just happened and plenty on the edge of my seat moments which kept me thoroughly engrossed from beginning to end.
Batman handles well and is quite easy to navigate, especially when grappling between buildings and different terrains. The combat in the game does feel quite samey same in comparison to the past two titles but that’s not entirely a bad thing. Pulling off combos has never been easier or more enjoyable with the addition of the Batmobile assisted take downs and the likes.
During my time with my first playthrough I was never faced with a situation that I couldn’t handle. The game was never overly difficult and even in death I never found myself frustrated with myself or the game for the reason behind it either. Most of the time I’d briefly reflect on what I did wrong in order to avoid repeating myself and other times I’d basically know what needed to be done in order to complete the section quicker this time round.
In regards to combat and the Bat-tank battles there were a few instances in which I died a few times and it was slightly irritating due to minor slip ups on my behalf. But this was likely also down to the fact I often forgot to upgrade my character and the Batmobile. It wasn’t until I had completed the main story that I had began going out of my way to upgrade everything, which in hindsight would have been a better thing to do earlier on in the game. Although to be fair this likely wouldn’t be an issue unless you’re playing on one of the higher difficulties. Back to the combat, I love the fighting in this game. Even though I find myself darting around the screen like a lunatic the majority of the time there is nothing more satisfying than landing the final blow on an enemy and watching it play out in slow motion. Beast mode baby!
I will not be covering the technical aspects of the graphics of this game. I will merely be voicing my opinion on the overall presentation of the game. I personally felt that the graphics were beautiful. Gotham has never looked so mesmerising before, even though it is quite a gloomy place it still manages to look so alive and exciting. There was a great attention to details on the characters, objects and in general you surroundings. Everything looked amazing
This doesn’t really fall under graphics but I’m mentioning it here anyway, I love how you can see the wear, tear and damage that is inflicted to the Batsuit as the game goes on. It’s a little thing but I think it’s a subtle feature that works well.
My favourite Moments
- Incinerating the Joker, a moment right at the start of the game. A simple event in which we see the body of the Joker being incinerated. No idea why, even though he was/is one of my favourite characters in the series.
- Barbara’s death, although it was a hallucination and she turns out to be alive at the end of the game this set a few things in motion and had me wondering how her death would affect the overall story and relationships between multiple characters.
- Jason Todd character reveal. Sadly I anticipated this from the get go and I say this was down to watching “Under The Red Hood”, if I hadn’t saw this prior to playing this game I think I would have been more shocked when it was revealed. Obviously the hallucinations gave it away to the players earlier on but it still would have had more of an impact.
- Pretty much all Joker hallucinations, excellent touch and superb dialogue. Even though it was just the Joker taunting “Bats” it did prove to be quite humourous.
- Commissioner Gordon betrayal. It reminds of the episode “Over the edge” from The New Batman Adventures where Barbara appears to die, resulting in the commissioner learning Batman’s identity and attempting to take vengeance on him. After teaming up with Bane in an attempt to kill Batman it all goes wrong and in Banes last moments he successfully sends both the Commissioner and Batman to their deaths. Although it’s all revealed to be a nightmare, an effect from Scarecrow’s toxin. Not entirely related but I felt there were some similarities.
- The end credits were a nice homage to the closure of the series. Showing screens from the three main Arkham titles, it brought back many memories and personally reminded me just how good the Arkham series has been.
Things I didn’t really Like
- Unfortunately some of the Most wanted missions became repetitive quickly. A prime example is the Firefly fight, which revolves around Batman turning on a suppressor to calm the fires Firefly is setting ablaze. After calming them Firefly bursts from the ruins of the building in an attempt to escape, Batman chases him down, catches him and tries to restrain him but ultimately fails. Rinse and repeat a few times then we successfully catch him. It’s not a big deal as they weren’t terrible but I would have liked a bit more diversity between each encounter.
- Lack of Scarecrow nightmare scenarios, as previously mentioned. I’d of liked to see them return from the first title. I mean the ones where you had to avoid being detected by Scarecrow and the likes, I thought they were pretty neat. The scenarios this time round are good but still.
- The fact this is the final Batman Arkham game Rocksteady are doing, would love to see more.
So should you play the previous games first?
Putting the main story aside, playing the previous titles isn’t exactly essential to allow you to fully understand what’s going on. Although I do feel it would help make more sense of the events going on and justify some of dialogue muttered between passing NPCs referring to the previous games. If you can id recommend playing Arkham Asylum and Arkham City first (I don’t really care for Origins but if you can, why not!). Purely to get to understand the series better as a whole and experience it all. I guess the order of your play through doesn’t matter as such but sometimes you will find that playing a newer title that’s more refined and improved based on previous games weak points and flaws can be a bit iffy. It’s not always the case to be fair though so you may be surprised.
I’ve done this with a few titles such as Bioshock 2 and Gears of war. Sometimes the difference in the quality of gameplay mechanics can throw you off but it’s not also the worst thing you can encounter. Sometimes it can be the fact you may already know or can easily predict the main plot twists due to completing its successor first.
I played the Xbox One version of the game, fortunately I had a smooth experience with the game overall. It’s well known that the PC version of the game however was subjected to intense criticism due to major performance issues which sadly resulted in the temporary withdrawal of the game. Hopefully the issues behind this are resolved soon so PC gamers can crack on with the game. At the time of writing this article, I’d obviously recommend PC gamers to avoid picking it up until these issues are completely resolved, but if you’re a console gamer I’d say to go ahead and get it now.
So to conclude I’d highly recommend Batman Arkham Knight to anyone who is a fan of action/adventure games. Regardless of whether or not you’ve played the previous games, or if you’re that up to scratch on the world of Batman, to be honest I’d say that doesn’t really matter. For Batman fans, some of you may have found this story line quite predictable. Mostly the Arkham Knight side of things, although I had a hunch I knew who was under the mask and what was coming I still thoroughly enjoyed the reveal and the build up to it. The game delivered the story well enough for both hardcore fans and those who may be relatively new to the series. Regardless of how predictable it was, it was still an excellent game and a fantastic finish to the series. I’m still questioning the final ending but it’s likely due to my bitterness that there won’t be a sequel. Batman Arkham Knight deserves a 9/10, it’s a superb closure to the Arkham trilogy that provided an engrossing story with excellent gameplay to boot.
Update – 16.07.15
After focusing on updating the site and producing some content for it I’m finally back to working on the counterpart video to this review, as usual it will be covering what is in this article but I enjoy having both available to the viewers so they can view whatever suits them at the time. Depending on the type of Game or schedules I won’t always be able to do a video counterpart, but I do try my best to have one available for the bigger games I cover. The video will be added to this article once published.
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I Give This Game A
A Gamer who loves pretty much all genres of Games! (More so RPG, FPS, Survival Horror, Action Adventure etc.) Known to collect “Retro Games and Consoles” and also for being guilty of having an ever expanding back log of games. To get to know him better and see what he’s been up to, catch him online via his Gaming Accounts… You know what to do!