Batman: Arkham Knight Review (XONE)

Batman Arkham Knight screen 1
Batman Arkham Knight screen 1. Warner Bros. Interactive

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Batman: Akrham Knight is almost the perfect end for Rocksteady's Arkham series.  With a huge city to freely explore, tons of gadgets, and the best combat the series has ever had, you have never felt more like The Batman than you do here.  You even get to finally use the Batmobile any time you want!  Unfortunately, you're also forced to use the Batmobile a lot of times you don't really want, which is where Arkham Knight ultimately stumbles a bit.

  It is still a fantastic adventure overall, though, that no Arkham or Batman fan in general should miss out on.  Plus it looks gorgeous on Xbox One.  Our full review has everything you need to know.

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Warner Bros. Interactive       
  • Developer: Rocksteady
  • ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros:  Gorgeous visuals; Gotham is huge; combat is amazing; great side missions
  • Cons:  The Batmobile; muddy main plot


In the year after the events in Arkham City finally rid the world of The Joker, Gotham City has experienced an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.  A dark cloud of doubt has lingered over the city, however, as the people expected a new super villain to inevitably fill the criminal void left behind.  It finally happened on Halloween night when The Scarecrow launched an attack based on a new type of Fear Toxin that resulted in the city being evacuated.

  Now the only people left behind are criminal henchmen, a rogues gallery of super villains, a few brave police and other good guys (Robin and Nightwing both appear), and Batman.  There is also a mysterious new villain called The Arkham Knight, however, who truly throws the city into chaos.  Oh, and The Joker still manages to pop up frequently.

  He's still totally definitely dead, but "stuff" happens.

The story is, well, crowded.  There's too many villain cooks in the kitchen, which makes the story hard to follow.  Either The Arkham Knight or Scarecrow or Joker's story could have been the main plot, not all three mashed together.  You also have pretty much every other main Batman villain running around the city with their own side missions and sub-plots, so it gets complicated pretty fast.  It does end in a satisfactory way, at least, and ties up the overall Akrham story arc nicely.

In addition to the main story missions, you also have a ton of side missions to do that are all tied to other villains in the Batman universe.  You'll solve a serial killer case.  A string of arson fires.  Figure out more than two hundred Riddler riddles.  Track down Man-Bat.  Destroy weapon caches.  And a lot more.  The side missions are really well done and organically weaved into the overall story of Gotham on this particular night.  I'd almost go so far as to say a whole game made up of just dozens of these city-spanning side missions would be a blast.  To put it another way, the main story plot feels like a movie, while the side missions are like episodes of a TV show (they actually feel exactly like "Batman: The Animated Series" to me).

  That's a good thing.


The gameplay is the sharpest and most polished the series has had.  It still follows the same rhythm as the other games, but it feels better to play here.  Batman still has his grapnel gun to zip around to rooftops, his cape to let him glide, and a wealth of gadgets and gizmos from batarangs and explosive gel and remote hacking devices to help him get into pretty much anywhere and take out pretty much any enemy.  There are stealthy sections where you're better off taking out enemies quietly.  And there are a fair few actual puzzles where you have to use gadgets - usually the newest one you acquired - to solve.  It is all pretty familiar.  The hand to hand combat works just the same as ever as well - mash out strikes and counters and use a gadget here and there - but it has never flowed this smoothly or been this fast before.  Combat feels awesome in Arkham Knight.

The one truly new thing Arkham Knight brings to the series is full use of the Batmobile.  Instead of the iconic armored car being something optional and useful when you needed it, however, the game forces you to use it pretty much constantly to the point that it can put you off the game.  In almost every single mission there will be some wall you need to pull down or something you need to power with electricity from the car.  And before you can do that, you usually have to find some convoluted path of jumping the car across rooftops and other nonsense to get it where it needs to be. 

The problem is that the Batmobile doesn't control very well.  At all.  It has very twitchy handling that makes traveling at speed difficult without pinballing around the road as you smack into buildings and obstacles.  Of course, that seems almost intentional as everything is breakable, and driving through all this destructible junk is "cool".  Then the game introduces tank combat.  Yes, tank combat.  Drone-controlled tanks fill the streets of Gotham and the only way to take them out is to transform the Batmobile into tank mode and fight them.  In normal mode, the Batmobile handles like a (fairly) normal car.  In battle mode, it becomes a weird hover tank.  These tank battles have you slowly dodging artillery fire while blasting away with your own cannon.  Frankly, they're boring, but they pop up constantly.  

The Batmobile does have some positive aspects.  You can press the button to call it to you, and as long as the roads aren't blocked, it will be right where you need it.  You can even jump off a tall building and press the call button, and the car will seamlessly catch you down on the street driving at full speed.  I just wish it felt better to actually drive and you had to use it less frequently.  Using it less often just to do cool stuff would have been better than using it constantly for mundane things, but I guess Rocksteady felt it had to justify its inclusion and just made you use it for everything.

Graphics & Sound

One area you really can't fault Batman: Arkham Knight is in the presentation.  The game looks absolutely gorgeous.  The lighting is spectacularly good, Batman's armor is fantastically detailed, and the way the rain beads up and flows off of it everything is very impressive.  I also like the way Batman's detective vision has changed over the last couple of games.  You needed to use it almost constantly in Arkham Asylum just to see anything, but here you actually see better with normal mode and only use detective vision for specific things.  The framerate holds up very well throughout, though it may dip a little when using the Batmobile.  During combat or when gliding high above the city it is buttery smooth.

The sound is also very well done.  Kevin Conway is back as Batman and Mark Hamill is The Joker and they sound as great as ever.  The rest of the cast does a fantastic job as well.  Sound effects are perfect and the music is just as you'd expect.  This is a great looking and sounding game. 

Bottom Line

All in all, Batman: Arkham Knight is a more than worthwhile experience with a stunning amount of content.  It'll take you easily 25-30 hours to see and do everything the main game has to offer, and everything you get to do outside of the Batmobile is pretty darn great.  The combat is absolutely fantastic and using Batman's gadgets to study crime scenes and solve puzzles is very well done.  The presentation is also pretty spectacular with a scope and scale and use of effects only possible on "next-gen" (current-gen).  Minus the Batmobile, Batman: Arkham Knight is almost a perfect Batman game, and even with the Batmobile, it is still pretty darn great.  No Batman or Akrham games fan should pass up Batman: Arkham Knight.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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