March 13, 2019 at 6:01 PM #1443
Batman: Arkham Knight
Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding
The Pinnacle of a Six-Year Crusade for Justice
Batman: Arkham Asylum was the first game in the Arkham series. It was first released in August of 2009, and it rocked the whole gaming community. With the addition of this new title, players could for the first time ever disperse vigilante justice in a completely foreign, original environment, rich with life and mind-boggling detail; all whilst being THEE BATMAN. It revolutionized peoples expectations and understanding of future games, and most specifically, future Batman games. The developers for the Arkham Series, Rocksteady Studios, set this new standard with pride. They knew what they were doing, and skillfully integrated every appreciable concept exactly how they wanted into their games. They also knew the height of the bar they raised in 2009, and if they wanted to do anything, they knew it would have to live up to the name of its older Arkham siblings, and even more so, if it was going to end up being the last of the bunch. In fact, what Rocksteady Studios wanted to accomplish with their last Arkham game, was to have something that would leave an impression. They wanted it to really go out with a bang! (Especially since the former before their conclusion: "Arkham: Origins" by WB Studios, was unanimously agreed upon as a mild disappointment). So entered: Batman: Arkham Knight, the final game of it’s series. With it, Rocksteady brought justice to their beloved franchise.
Batman: the Arkham Knight Carries what original notions made it’s predecessors so great, while adding-on to preexisting notions; perfecting them. Like what was stated above, exploration of an intricately designed atmosphere was a taken in to great consideration. Unlike the games before it however, Knight boasts the largest map to date, allowing you to traverse all of the notorious Gotham City, and discover all her hidden little goodies. Despite the large size however, the ease of transport within the city and between areas of the city divided have never felt more genuine and natural. Gliding has been optimized from the exiting titles to allow batman more freedom of upward-navigation, particularly the "dive-bomb and pull-up" strategy, which when preformed correctly can ultimately allow Batman to glide indefinitely (// Like I’ve mentioned, travel is fantastic here! //).
Additionally, when on the topic of transportation, it’s impossible not to mention the presence of the newly integrated Batmobile. Being quite literally a brand new feature, exclusive to Rocksteady’s magnum opus, many fans were skeptical of this unique addition. They figured, that from the way Rocksteady was selling it up as the ‘main feature’, the game would act in kind; forcing the use of this unwanted gift down our throats. These concerns, although valid at the time, proved irrelevant once the full game was released. Not only did the Batmobile respectfully harmonize with other game modules (such as gliding and combat) it offered a completely new realm of gameplay. This feel of diversity in a game such as this, is extremely important: because of how vast the game is (in duration of experience and literal map size), the presence of only one form of play, very often times leads to overall repetition, leaving any player with a yearn for cognitive stimulation greatly disappointed and unsatisfied. HOWEVER, if a vast story-game contains multiple dimensions of play within it’s telling, then the content feels more distributed about it’s size, and the player may rejoice in complete, balanced, and filling experience. A good example of what I just explained, outside of Batman, is in the game Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Black Flag was a complete breathe of fresh air from the previous copy-pastas, and utilized exactly the same phenomenon I described for Arkham Knight: because the overall game was vast, unique characteristics were blessed upon it (in the form of naval combat, underwater exploration, etc.,) and thus created an extremely solid, and very entertaining experience. If someone tries to convince you that the presence of the Batmobile takes away from the overall enjoyment of this game, they are most likely misinformed.
Combat, by the way, for the most part is completely standard to the previous titles. However the controls and performance of the combat system does feel noticeably less "gimmicky" in Arkham Knight than in it’s previous titles. The fighting mechanic is extremely simple to master (block/punch/gadget) and offers reasonable hardship without punishing the player for no reason. In fact, combat is for the most part skill based, so If a player if having any difficulty at all, all he/she may have to do is adjust their difficulty options to a setting that better fits their play.
Predator sequences are as satisfactory as ever. The plethora of gadget upgrades available allow for great customization of how you, as a player, want to take down the room full of armed goons. Spend your upgrade points wisely however; you will not be able to max them out on a first run.
I mentioned earlier that I was quite impressed with the detail put into Batman: Arkham Knight, and I’d like to briefly go into a little more detail about that (pun intended Batman: Arkham Knight did something that I don’t see very often in a lot of games now-a-days: they took the time to precisely paint their own special little marks on the nooks and crannies of their game, with absolutely no reason to assume a player will ever discover them. For instance, on my adventures within the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) I took the time to position myself, and zoom-in to point where I could read the lettering on the generic ‘WANTED’ posters scattered about the walls. As I did this, I came across a particular poster that was unlike the others; it’s mugshot was noticeably more "real" looking than the others. She was also according to my memory, smiling, unlike the others. I quickly realized that this person was undoubtedly one of the developers, as her documented alias amounted to something akin to: "Marshmallow Devourer". It’s little self inserts like this, that make me think the game developers had a lot of fun making the game, which in turn really makes me have fun as I’m playing it! In addition, because of stuff like this, I was really able to appreciate the effort and attention to detail that the dev’s put into the game. If I hadn’t noticed any details because they weren’t slightly teased (e.g. the poster on wall), I would have been left ignorant to the work the dev’s must’ve put in. It’s not really a big deal, but it definitely made my game experience more enjoyable, therefore I think it’s worth mentioning here.
Furthermore, if you were hoping for me to perhaps explain a little more on the strictly sensory quality of details, than your wish has been granted. I am pleased to inform you that fidelity of image is absolutely stunning; so much so, that you can not only see each individual rain droplet as it falls, but its splash effect on the Batman’s armor and cape. Arkham Knight is so proud of it’s graphics, it even boasts a ‘photo-mode’ feature (at least on Xbox One) to allow you to orient a perfect screen-capture. Audio is fantastic on Xbox One as well. Before you first start the game, you are given a choice of several audio quality options of varying features and quality. My personal pick however, would be to go with the "Pro Headphones" option if you own a pair of headphones with any bass-booster feature. Top-notch listening experience.
Where Arkham Knight shines it’s brightest however, is undeniably in it’s story telling. Arkham Knight weaves a tail that you the player become invested as you learn more of the characters, their interactions, and most importantly their flaws. Arkham Knight closely follows the age-old epic format of the hero’s journey, however imbues it’s own elements and twists that will leave you on your toes, and eagerly awaiting to see what happens next. The Arkham Knight relies heavily on the theme that despite his notoriety, his infamy, his legend, the man behind the cowl is still a man after all, and must struggle to overcome hardships that prove difficult. And if there’s one thing we all know the batman has, it’s determination. I’m gonna be honest, I couldn’t stop playing this game. I beat it in a weekend simply because It was so well pieced together. You do not need to have played any of the previous games to fully enjoy this one (it explains most things) however, for those who have, you will be delightfully teased with references, throughout the campaign. And one of my personal favorites, is the PACING of the game. Every story element falls perfectly one-after-another, it’s beautiful! And, not only that, but the pacing is so good, it even allows for seamless transitions between side quests and the main story!! One of my biggest pet peeves in video games is when the campaign is so high-strung and "urgent" yet you have time to do all the side quests at once (and of course you do just that to get %100). In this game, you are seamlessly presented with opportunities to accomplish side quests, during the campaign, without feeling "taken out" or removed from the story. It’s so flipping nice!
Overall one of my favorite games, and definitely worth the buy (unless your on PC. Sorry guys.)
[Total playtime (main story only): ~15 hours.] [Total playtime (96% completion): ~27 hours.] [Total playtime (100% completion): ~40 hours.] //There’s a lot of small collectibles//. Thanks for reading! I hope I was able to help!
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