For years, Rocksteady has been producing excellent Batman fantasy-fulfillment games in the form of the Arkham series. When the first game in the series, Batman: Arkham Asylum, came out, I was skeptical. Games based on existing IPs (entertainment franchises) usually aren’t all that great. But when I saw a friend playing the first Batman Arkham game, I was floored by how fun it actually looked. Not only that, but the Arkham series has always been good at making the player feel like Batman, and that was obvious to me just from a couple minutes of watching someone else play.
Arkham Knight Story & Gameplay
With each subseqent game in the Arkham series, Rocksteady’s Gotham has gotten larger and Batman has gained more Bat-gadgets and tricks to use in it. In the newest and last game, Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman’s city is larger than ever. And thanks to his perpetually growing arsenal, the gameplay is more varied than ever. Not only does the player have many different ways to interact with the environment, but the developers also did an excellent job at giving Batman a lot of different objectives to complete. It is possible, and in my opinion more fun, to abandon the main storyline for hours without getting bored. Most of the side quests have an interesting story and more exciting objectives than those in Arkham City‘s side quests.
On the other hand, in my opinion all of this experimentation and celebration of variety has caused Rocksteady to make their first real mistake in this series. As you may have heard, Arkham Knight features the Batmobile rather prominently. However, if you were expecting a traditional Batmobile like the one briefly featured in the first game, you will be disappointed. This Batmobile is more like the one seen in the Dark Knight movies, and really looks more like a futuristic tank than a car. In fact, not only does it resemble a tank, but it actually has a tank mode that comes complete with a 60mm cannon.
Batman mostly uses this mode in tank battles with conveniently unmanned drones. In gameplay that felt basically like a rather simple third-person shooter to me. I thought that these battles were pretty mediocre and I often found myself feeling bored even when I was actually challenged by them, which is never a good sign. The tank battles aren’t terrible, but I definitely felt like I was enduring them to get to the content that I actually wanted to play.
But at least there is a delicious carrot at the end of the Bat-tank stick. Arkham Knight delivers more of the great brawls and Predator scenarios that fans of the series have come to expect, with just enough additions and tweaks to make it feel fresh and more responsive than ever. It is sad to see the series ending, but overall I’d say that Batman: Arkham Knight is a great finale.
Arkham Knight Ratings Note
Unlike previous titles in the series, which all received T ratings, Batman: Arkham Knight received an M rating from the ESRB. Going by the ESRB’s explanation of the game’s rating, it seems that Arkham Knight was given an M rating because there’s a torture scene involving the Batmobile and overall the violence depicted is a bit more graphic. It didn’t seem like much of a difference to me, but apparently it was enough to push this game into M rated territory. I also suspect that one particular scene (potential spoilers) in which the player is controlling the Joker contributed heavily to the rating. Additionally, the explanation refers to the side mission “The Perfect Crime,” and a scene in the main story during which Batman interrogates an APC driver using rather extreme fear tactics. If you want to curate your child’s experience of Arkham Knight, I would suggest focusing on these portions of the game.