by: RILEY GOLDEN/Staff Writer
The first game in the series from Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham Asylum, is a great take on superhero video games.
It also builds a revolutionary strike-and-counter system that Arkham Knight improves to its fullest extent. Combat flows much faster and smoother with brutal new moves, gadgets, and takedowns. All of which are necessary to deal with some new enemy archetypes.
The game expands on Arkham City’s open world with a much larger, more detailed Gotham, bringing about the need for Batman’s ultimate ride, the Batmobile. Arkham Knight tells a new story about the first family of Gotham, including some very iconic scenes from the comics.
With about 14 hours of story missions and nearly the same in side missions, Arkham Knight tells an interesting story about Batman, Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Jim Gordon, and the three Robins. For about half of the game, Batman has Oracle in his ear, until she goes missing. At that time, Tim Drake’s Robin (and Oracle’s longtime-lover) enters the story to assist Batman in tracking Oracle down. And while you’re partnered alongside Robin for these missions, you get to work alongside Dick Grayson’s (the first Robin) Nightwing to stop The Penguin from running guns. As for Jason Todd, the second Robin (replaced by Tim), he shows up in several dark scenes from the comics, due to Batman being poisoned by Scarecrow and having longterm hallucinogenic side effects. One of my favorite combat mechanics introduced in this game by working with the other Robins is the dual play you have between Batman and his sidekicks. What this means is that when fighting alongside Robin, Nightwing, or Catwoman, not only can you instantly switch from Batman to his partner, but if you fill your combo meter, you can perform a takedown that uses both Batman and his partner. Then you can resume fighting as the opposite hero. It is quite satisfying.
SPOILER ALERT: As many people were expecting, Jason Todd is the Arkham Knight. When I found out the identity of this “all-new character,” I was quite disappointed. According to Rocksteady, the Arkham Knight was supposed to be a brand new character, when in all reality he was just Red Hood (Jason Todd) in a different mask. Some mystery. SPOILER END.
While the mystery of the Arkham Knight’s identity dissolves out, you come to realize that Scarecrow is a much more real threat to Batman and the people of Gotham. Plus, there are several strong performances, from John Noble’s unsettling Scarecrow, to Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to play their respective roles of Batman and the Joker.
With the new, rather large, open world built up of three different islands comes improved transportation via the aforementioned Batmobile, improved cape-gliding speed and an upgradable grapnel. Nearly everything in your path crumbles under the Batmobile in a satisfying way as you chase down criminals, as well as some impressive slow-motion explosions out of the vehicular combat. (Keep in mind that Batman does not kill, so it’s safe to assume everyone walks away from these fiery wrecks. The same goes for the criminals you run over in the street who are both shocked and hit by a car.)
The Batmobile can also be controlled remotely, which adds a great new gadget to Batman’s belt for flanking enemies and solving puzzles, which is what you use for many of the Riddler challenges, as well as his extremely fun death races. It can also be summoned almost anywhere outside, leading to a beautiful dive or acrobatic flip into the cockpit. My only complaint on the Batmobile would have to be that you just spend a little too much time in it in both the story and side missions.
Although I found the identity of the Arkham Knight to be kind of a cop-out, as well as feeling like I spent a little too much time behind the wheel of the Batmobile, the overall gameplay was fantastic. From the brutal combat and dual play to the ridiculous amount of control you have of the Batmobile, Arkham Knight is a fun-to-play story of the Bat-family. I give it an 8.3 out of 10.