Much like Christopher Nolan having to achieve expectations and bring a climactic close to his Dark Knight film trilogy, developer Rocksteady has had a massive task at hand to send the Arkham trilogy off with a bang. The result is Arkham Knight, which features everything we love about the franchise, peppered with some new elements to mix up the bad-guy beatdown sessions a bit more, but does Rocksteady’s final game for the franchise do its source material proud?
For the most part, yes. Rocksteady went with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ mentality, which was understandable given the polish and success of Arkham City, which is widely considered as one of the best games of the last generation. You get the incredible Freeflow combat system, the multitude of gadgets, Detective Mode, and Predator stealth missions, the gameplay mechanics not only drape you in the cape and cowl, they also make Batman somewhat believable in how he does what he does.
In these moments the game really shines and the story and interactions with the key villains like Scarecrow, Poison Ivy and the titular Arkham Knight are once-again all high-points, ramping up the tensions and stakes that Gotham and Batman are dealing with. Rocksteady has a great knack for building an action-oriented story and Arkham Knight is the pinnacle of the series in that regard.
It brings a satisfying conclusion to the story-arc and delivers some incredible set-piece moments along the way, peppered with some great fights and battles, both in and out of the games newest feature, the Batmobile, which is both the game’s hook and Achilles heel this time around.
What sounded very cool when first announced is actually the least fun thing about Arkham Knight. The Batmobile drives passably well, but the streets of Gotham all feel a bit narrow for it. Forced Batmobile-based platforming missions are tedious and frustrating. And Batmobile combat is extraordinary only in how horribly boring it is.
It basically involves a switching into Battle Mode, strafing this way and dodging telegraphed attacks from enemy tanks, and then shooting them back until they explode. Rinse and repeat. Granted, sometimes vehicle-integration can be fun in games, but it feels out of place with its execution here.
Despite the shoehorned Batmobile missions, the combat and puzzle elements of Arkham Knight are still a lot of fun. Exploring Gotham and delving into its primary and various secondary plots feels a lot more organic than most open world games. Rocksteady have done a great job at rounding up the loose-ends of their massive Batman franchise, and fans of the series will be pleased with the new additions, even if they aren’t executed in the most tactful ways.