Words By Garfield Hylton
Opera music plays as Batman swings between buildings towards his next objective. He stops mid-air and slowly descends onto a building. The music grows louder as the hero eventually lays eyes on a ghastly sight… a man nailed to a cross. Batman begins his investigation by scanning his skin, tissue, and bones for identifiable marks.
The victim’s identity appears after scanning all three, and I took one step closer to finding the murderer. Then, I realize I’m not only pushing buttons and sticks to find clues. I caught myself role-playing as Batman, full of resolve towards finding the killer in a side mission. The game masterfully sold its entire presentation, and I thought it really couldn’t get any better than this.
Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, Xbox One, PC) sees Bruce Wayne alongside his allies wages battle against the Arkham Knight and Scarecrow. While story details won’t be included in this review, be aware that it’s excellently written and moves along at a steady clip. Most of Batman’s villains make appearances with one key standout. The story’s gritty and forces Batman to account for past mistakes. By the end of the game, the player can see the weight it’s taken on him. It’s a remarkable feat that the story manages to entertain both fans of the hero himself and anyone interested in third person action games.
Gameplay here remains true to the series’ form. Rocksteady does an incredible job of equipping Batman with as many gadgets as possible. Batarangs, smoke pellets, gun disruptors and an electrical shotgun-esque device are all usable in combat/non-combat situations. The fighting, one of the hallmarks of the series, seeks refinement rather than an overhaul. So, it provides some of the best hand-to-hand engagements in the franchise.
Arkham Knight’s version of Gotham City lives within a open world covering three islands, making transportation an important role within the game. Rocksteady took full advantage of the space, as Batman can swing from buildings or launch himself into the sky and practically fly over the city.
Arkham Knight’s Batmobile stands in as a major bullet point. Driving the Batmobile initially is a blast, as it will run over almost anything in its path. So long as it’s available, the player can quickly call for the Batmobile, which will always be followed by a slick animation of Batman entering the vehicle.