Batman: Arkham Knight PS4 Review

Batman never gets a break. After killing The Joker, order has been restored to Arkham City, but we all know that can’t last for long. Before Bruce Wayne can turn that frown upside down, the Scarecrow unleashes toxin all over Arkham, forcing the residents to flee, and turning the city into a nightmarish militia state. Crime doesn’t just run rampant, it runs the city. It’s gotten so bad that there's virtually nothing left in Arkham worth saving, but the Dark Knight never gives up, refusing to give in to the forces of evil, even if he’s the last force of good still standing.

Rocksteady and WBIE’s Batman: Arkham Knight comes with sky-high expectations. Not only is it the first Arkham game for next-gen systems (after the breakthrough “Arkham Asylum,” phenomenal “Arkham City,” and the disappointing “Arkham Origins” on the PS3), it comes at a time when PS4 gamers are desperate for a creative hit. Sure, we’ve loved “Bloodborne” and “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,” but there’s little on the video game calendar between Arkham Knight and the Fall. It’s a game that has to keep people entertained most of the Summer. Good news—it will. This is rock solid entertainment, remarkably more ambitious as it progresses and builds like a fantastic action movie. The gameplay is consistent, the graphics are gorgeous, and the narrative is surprisingly compelling. You feel the weight of Batman’s responsibility in Arkham Knight, and the full force of his power.

Everyone is Invited to This Party

As Nightwing/Robin says, “It’s going to be a long night, Bruce.” Arkham Knight is essentially an open-world game, not that dissimilar from something like Grand Theft Auto V in the way you can alternate between main Story Missions and Side Quests in the three-island world of Arkham. As in all of these games, the developers find ways to get the entire Rogue’s Gallery in play, mostly in the form of side quests that build experience points to upgrade your skill sets. You’ll destroy weapons caches owned by The Penguin, stop Two-Face’s gang from committing bank robberies, defeat Firefly’s plans for arson, save Catwoman from the clutches of The Riddler, and even battle a new enemy named the Arkham Knight. And you’ll do it all with the ghost of The Joker on your shoulder, acting like Batman’s Mr. Hyde, mocking his mistakes and encouraging his vengeance.

Same Bat, New Tricks

Players of the previous Arkham games will recognize the basics of Arkham Knight, including the melee structure that relies on timing and counter strikes, and even most of the gadgets like the Batarang, Grapple Gun, etc. Again, there’s a reliance on Detective Mode to find the clues necessary to defeat your enemies and save your friends. The main difference in gameplay in this installment is the inclusion of vehicular combat. Yes, you not only get to drive the Batmobile, you get to shoot rockets, EMPs and other weapons from it. At first, the mechanics take some getting used to, but the Batmobile gameplay in Arkham Knight becomes one of its strongest components, and it’s weaved seamlessly into the rest of the game, when it could have stuck out. I imagine it will be a part of all future Arkham games.

Inspired by the Batman Greats

As the narrative of Arkham Knight develops it becomes more and more immersive. Developed with the visions of Alan Moore and Christopher Nolan in mind, this is a dark, violent tale that feels more intense and soul-crushing than previous Arkham games. You feel the stakes of heroism in Arkham Knight, and watch as Bruce Wayne continues to lose his sanity, captured brilliantly by recurring visions of The Joker throughout the game. He’s around every corner, teasing you, taunting you, and pushing you on.

A Deadly Batman

If there’s one thing that doesn’t feel right about Knight, it’s a reliance on gun violence, which is not really Batman’s forte. In fact, Batman has always had something of a “Do Not Kill” philosophy. The creators of Arkham Knight try to explain it away by making Batman’s weapons more like riot guns and "disruptors," but you can still run people over in your Batmobile and you’re still shooting a human target. I always liked how Arkham games relied on wits and melee skills more than, say, a first-person shooter, and that's been a little corrupted this time out.

Verdict

It’s a minor complaint for a surprisingly major game. Batman: Arkham Knight is almost exactly what you want it to be. It features intense combat, detailed storytelling, your favorite characters, and addictive Batmobile gameplay. It’s one of those games, like the best open-world games, that keep you hooked—one more mission, one more bad guy to kill, one more person to save. For Batman, there’s always one more. VERDICT: BUY IT.

Disclaimer: The Publisher provided a review copy of this title.