Batman Arkham Knight Review (No Spoilers) – The Best Game this Year So Far?

Rocksteady Studios releases its last Batman Arkham series video game in the aptly named Batman Arkham Knight which is available now on current gen consoles and PC. Despite some issues with the PC version the game is filled to the brim with all things bat. If you’re a fan or rinsed out the other three games, then is this vision of Gotham worthy of your time and money and is it the best game this year so far? Take a look at our Batman Arkham Knight review (spoiler free) for the full picture.

Batman Arkham Knight Review:

Today we’re taking a look at Rocksteady Studios eagerly anticipated Batman Arkham Knight which sees the caped crusader take on the villainous thugs of an over-run Gotham. The citizens have been evacuated after Scarecrow threatens to bathe the city in a fear inducing toxin leaving a perfect excuse for Batman to take charge and roam the lofty heights and dark underbelly without recourse or fear of injuring innocents. What this essentially means for players is more of the same actions we’ve seen in the previous three games. Batman can glide through the air at leisure, use zip lines to dart from building to building, a grapple hook to gain height, dive bomb wandering thugs, engage in free-flow combat or stealth and generally become the menace to the criminal society he’s always been. The execution is spot on and with Gotham being well-realized with its neon lit skyscrapers and buildings, you can’t fault the rendition of the bat and his digital playground here.

What is new is being able to take the reigns of the batmobile for the first time – in this series at least – and for the most part its use is heavily integrated into most facets of the gameplay. Not only can Batman tear around the city streets at speed, but holding a single button turns the vehicle into a sliding tank of sorts with full 360 degree rotary cannon and machine guns. There’s a lot the batmobile can do bar taking to the skies, and how its abilities are used is clever but perhaps not going to gel with all players. The problem centers around the usage as the batmobile becomes a bit too much of a focus at times where progression – story or otherwise – is hampered unless it’s utilized. In this regard the whole concept is a bit love or hate where you’ll either relish its integration or loath it due to taking too much of the limelight away from the Bat and his upgradable gadgets. The batmobile is a necessary counterpart to criticisms leveled at the game being a carbon copy of past glories; something had to be different and the vehicular activities are clearly it.

As always, the Gotham playground is filled to the brim with all manner of open-world activities whether that be tank battles against a drone army from the secondary evil villain the Arkham Knight, preventing bank jobs being committed by Two Face and his gangs or stopping weapons caches from Penguin and his goons. There’s a lot to do with Gotham’s familiar criminal faces although in terms of actual story the secondary characters get very little screen time or fleshed out encounters bar one who won’t be named due to spoilers. There’s just one other character who stands out cut and dry above the rest in terms of gameplay and that’s The Riddler who as in previous games has numerous time consuming puzzles to solve and collectibles to find.

In terms of visuals, Rocksteady has done a grand job of upping the detail on the character models from the previous games. Perhaps this is due to not having to work with last gen systems but the details are far greater to the point of looking and animating exceptionally well with a far more realistic look than before. As mentioned, Gotham looks fantastic with its abundance of rain and there’s just lots of neat effects to marvel at making the game the best looking of the series. The performance is also very good on consoles with no stuttering and fairly consistent frame-rates when tearing around the city at speed or being manhandled by high numbers of thugs.

Audio remains chilling and well placed with a fitting soundtrack and lots of soundbites from the criminals served up with solid performances from the main cast. After many hours of play there’s repeated phrases galore which can begin to grate, but overall there’s some neat humor used which lightens the mood a little. Like the graphics you can’t really fault the audio which gives Gotham a well lived in flavour and its inhabitants a bit of personality.

Gamers can sink quite a number of hours into the main story arc and then finish up by completing all of the side activities and grabbing the collectibles – which adds many more hours to the ticking clock. Expect over 20 hours playtime here and much more if you’re after 100 per cent completion. Once bested there’s a new game plus option and as standard an integrated set of leaderboards against friends and the online world associated with various combat, Stealth predator and vehicle challenges. Whilst not as robust as previous games, these are still worthy to mess around with all the same.

Batman Arkham Knight tells an interesting yet predictable story which will leave players enthralled and frustrated in equal measure. There’s quite a bit of pantomime style actions on offer here and the game’s neat twist reveals itself throughout to become a token running gag. It’s clever and well implemented as is everything else given the developers pedigree, but there’s perhaps a feeling of a by-the-numbers game aside from the heavy usage of Batman’s car cum tank. The secondary characters whilst favorably present could have been given a bit more story behind them, and the moments when other heroic characters become playable merely teases at the possibilities of being able to free-roam with them in toe or for a change of pace. Still, the game overall is very polished and if you’re a bat fan then the feeling of becoming the caped crusader is as great as it has always been despite a toning down of his detective skills. If you’re after an action packed open-world fun filled romp with characters you’re familiar with then this is well worth picking up. Even in light of the game’s negatives, it’s still a cracking game that just has to be played and is one of the best games this year so far, although the crown still goes out to a certain Witcher.

Score 9/10

Written by: Robert Cram

Robert Cram has hundreds of video game reviews and thousands of articles under his belt. He aims to remain objective and fair in his analysis. With years of experience, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement is entirely optional.