Gotham, that most troubled of cities, that den of freaks and goons – the good, the bad and the weird. It’s seen just about everything, including a major earthquake that rendered it a no man’s land in the comic series.
But that’s certainly no reason to give it any kind of respite, and Batman: Arkham Knight isn’t exactly around to restore peace and order. So we find Gotham evacuated on account of Scarecrow threatening to unleash his fear toxin on a grand scale.
The scene is set, with Batman, the GCPD and his allies squared up against a pantheon of villains including, but not limited to, the aforementioned Scarecrow, Two-Face, Penguin, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. There’s even room for a brand new villain created purely for the game in conjunction with DC: the titular Arkham Knight. Much speculation abounds concerning the Arkham Knight’s identity, not least because of what happened at the end of Arkham City.
*Spoiler alert – if you haven’t played Arkham City and intend to do so, please skip this next paragraph and pop back in at the end of it.
Virtually every Bat-fan has been wondering – since that quite startling finale to Arkham City’s main story arc, with Joker dead – surely Rocksteady wouldn’t be so bold as to genuinely kill him off, would they? Well, considering the games don’t truly constitute cannon (with the assumption here being that the main DC comics are the gospel according to the Bat), in much the same way as the Dark Knight movies, then why not? Still, the question lingers …
*We are entering a spoiler-free zone once more.
Thus begins Arkham Knight. It’s been 9 months since those events, and Gotham has surprisingly seen a drop off in crime rates. Naturally, that doesn’t last long and soon things descend into madness once more.
Here follows some initial thoughts on the game. Being the first in the series to land exclusively on the next gen consoles, there will obviously be much expectation of this in terms of scale and visuals. The latter doesn’t disappoint; from the opening cut scenes this feels like a blockbuster event, eager to flex its muscles.
You are quickly thrown into the mix of it. In this way, I imagine it could be a bit of a learning curve for those who haven’t played the prequels. Then again, there are ample side menu guides and in game prompts that this shouldn’t constitute too much of a problem. That said, each of the previous games are absolutely worth playing before entering into this one.
So there is an assumption that you are already familiar with the series’ mechanics. As one who most certainly is, I was keen to quickly get a sense of how this compares. There’s almost spot on continuity here, with the fighting, grabbling and gliding techniques all pretty much note for note. There even seems to be an added dimension of flow to the punch-ups. This in particular has been a strength of the Arkham games, where you are encouraged to engage in mass brawls with the various thugs. So far so good then.
The real daddy though, the single most exciting addition to the game, is the Batmobile. Previous versions showed it to us, teased us with it, said, “Look, but don’t touch”. Thankfully, the wait seems to have been worth it. Early experiences show it to be a stylistic cross between Tim Burton’s sleek old-school incarnation, and Christopher Nolan’s real-world, functionality-first “Tumbler”. This makes for a heady mix: beautiful to look at and yet wholly efficient. It was great fun test driving it and leaving a wake of destruction behind.
Beyond these elements, there’s not much else I can say right now. Early indications are that this is a good fit for the new consoles. Whether it, like its precursors, proves itself to be a classic of the form, remains to be seen. Regardless, I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for you. After all, the joy is in the playing.
So go forth – be the Bat.
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