Batman: Arkham Knight Review

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Batman: Arkham Knight on PlayStation 4

Rocksteady had their work cut out for them after the reveal of Batman: Arkham Knight. They created not only two of the best licensed games in video game history, but also two of the best games period. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City showed the world that superhero games can be so much more than what people anticipated. Batman: Arkham Knight was set up to conclude the deep, gritty story that this relatively unknown studio had created all those years ago.

Concluding something so great in nature is a difficult task. How do you tie up all the loose ends in a way that feels satisfying and truly final? It requires an unparalleled labor of love. A love that is grounded in the deepest fears of everyone’s favorite caped crusader. A fear that manages to permeate every single aspect of Batman: Arkham Knight to create the darkest, most depressing Gotham City ever seen, and it is a thing of absolute beauty.

From the very moment players take control of Batman and look out into the horizon, the bleak beauty of the city shines back in all of it’s dark, desolate glory. Neon lights reflect off of the puddles left behind by some rainy night. Alarms go of in the background, sirens blare during high-speed car chases, and the shouts of thugs overrunning the once prosperous city echo between the buildings. And all of this is before you even get to see Batman: Arkham Knight‘s grand addition enter the scene.

After years of hard work, and a new generation of consoles, the team over at Rocksteady added an element to the action that they’ve been wanting for years: the Batmobile. And this isn’t your grandparents’ Batmobile, either. What you have here is something more akin to the Dark Knight trilogy’s tumbler, except a bit more sleek, and quite possibly a whole lot deadlier.

At first, the Batmobile seems a bit unwieldy. It’s large, it drifts, and transitioning between its two modes (standard and battle) is sometimes disorienting when in the midst of battle (or fleeing for your life). But, all of that goes out the window the first time you go smashing through a brick wall during a chase with one of Gotham City’s many criminals. The destructive force of Batman’s newest toy, combined with the destructible environments, makes for some serious fun, as well as some wonderful eye-candy. The game is truly beautiful. The only element of Batman: Arkham Knight that manages to trump its striking visuals has to be its story.

Batman: Arkham Knight serves up the conclusion to the Arkham series with every single twist and turn you could possibly think of. Scarecrow has crawled his way back to Gotham and has managed to convince nearly all of the city’s greatest criminals to team up with one goal in mind: end the Batman. He’s also brought along a new friend, the Arkham Knight, to completely break the dark knight. After hearing this, many were worried that it would present a situation where there were just too many cooks in the kitchen (sort of like that Spider-Man movie that everyone tries so hard to forget), but we can assure you that what Rocksteady has created for fans demonstrates true mastery of the characters and the world.

As was expected, the story is dark, but not just for the sake of it. Plenty of games have done that before; they introduce death and sadness in some vain attempt to inject maturity and meaning into an otherwise bland experience. With Batman: Arkham Knight, the darkness you face around every corner is the same darkness that has been creeping up throughout every entry of the series. Only now it’s made itself something real, it’s given itself form, and it is playing for keeps. Batman: Arkham Knight will take you through confusion, fear, love, loss, revenge, redemption, and a despair that seems impossible to survive.

Throughout the ten-hour or so main campaign, players will make new discoveries and constantly encounter those “I need to see what comes of this” moments that will lead them to the conclusion the series deserves. The voice acting is impeccable, even with the slightly annoying Arkham Knight, and the music manages to punctuate every event with urgency.

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