So obviously being the Batman purist I am, I immediately began to wonder, "how the hell is Batman not murdering people left and right with this thing?" Well, it's complicated and requires a bit of suspending one's disbelief.
When it's aimed at bad guys, the Batmobile fires non-lethal rubber bullets. It just knows to do that. During car chases you can fire homing missiles that will explode and flip the car you're chasing, but the bad guys always seem to crawl out of the wreck unscathed. And if you do make contact with an enemy while in the Batmobile, the car delivers an electric shock to your victim, followed by a hilarious grunt or moan -- which is basically the game's way of saying "Batman didn't kill that guy, he's just electrocuted and knocked out, but he's still very much alive, we promise."
It's all pretty absurd, but I can't claim to know a better way of getting around that touchy Batman subject.
The Batmobile's introduction to the game changes a lot of the core gameplay in Arkham Knight, but you'll still be familiar with a majority of what's being offered here if you've played an Arkham game before. The free-flowing melee combat system returns with a few new tricks, while zip-lining and gliding exhibit some upgrades as well. You'll also be at the mercy of upgrade points to improve these disciplines within the WayneTech menu system, though you'll be surprised as to how quickly you acquire those tokens.
Arkham Knight introduces a new way to take out a gang of enemies with the fear system, which becomes available after a successful silent takedown is performed. Fear takedowns let you chain together attacks in gorgeous slow-motion fashion, allowing for Batman to neutralize the opposition before they have time to react. You can practice fear takedowns and other skills in the various AR challenges scattered around Gotham to earn skill points.
While you'll likely spend a lot of time scrolling through the map in previous games, I really like the different approach in which Arkham Knight presents story and side missions to the player. Instead of scrubbing around the map for icons and then dropping a waypoint marker, you now have access to two different selection wheels. These screens make it much easier to assign objectives and track your overall progress through the game. Certain iconography indicates what's available, what's locked and overall gives you a much clearer understanding of how to navigate through the game's numerous side stories and the main campaign arc. Of course you can still use the map to do this but it's a much more tedious affair.
Arkham Knight certainly takes a few risks with new gameplay ideas, but there are still some welcome mainstays like the Riddler's story arc and puzzle challenges. I liked being able to take a break from the main campaign to solve a puzzle or hunt down a Riddler Trophy.
The Riddler storyline, along with a number of other side quest arcs all help create a solid sense of progression in Arkham Knight, even though almost everything you're rewarded has appeared in some form in a game prior.
There's no denying Arkham Knight is the most aggressive Batman game to date. It can be pretty brutal at times. Batman feels more militant than ever before, which I found constantly teetered on the edge of what's believable in the world of the Dark Knight. It certainly isn't the most violent fiction Batman's ever been a part of, but it's the most he's been exposed to (and responsible for) in the Arkham games. It's also the first M-rated Batman game in the series.
Perhaps it's the level of violence being inflicted by his enemies this time around that warrants Batman's explosive response. Even the miscreants inhabiting Gotham express their surprise. From time to time you can hear them utter things like "Batman sure is kicking a lot more ass these days."
Batman is faced with a relentless, intelligent and vengeful nemesis in the Scarecrow. But he's not the only villain Batman'll deal with. Other classic enemies appear in the game, with their own specific stories, most of which you can pursue at your own pace. You'll also work with a slew of allies in Arkham Knight, some of whom can fight alongside you, even teaming up for partner-assisted takedowns. In a few sections, you'll even be able to switch between playable characters in the same location, which provides some truly stellar moments.
The game's story is a lot of the same kind of drama you're used to, though Rocksteady has weaved an interesting narrative regarding the internal struggles that Batman must deal with. The pacing keeps this inner turmoil bubbling at the surface and constantly fresh in the player's mind, all while delivering some memorable cinematic cut scenes.
It's never been more fun to be the Bat, and it's never been easier to perform his badass set of moves and abilities. Arkham Knight is a game with a lot of pressure weighing on it, but ultimately it rises to the occasion. If you're a fan of the other Arkham games, you're going to really enjoy Arkham Knight, even if there's a handful of stuff you've seen before. Its powerful brand of storytelling feels epic, important and will definitely surprise you at times.
There will be those on either side of the fence in regard to the Batmobile, but it does freshen up the overall experience. I think if I were just playing a much bigger and better Arkham City with nothing new being brought to the table, I might have been underwhelmed.
Even though it flirts with a Batman that is too overpowered, Rocksteady Studios goes out on top with Arkham Knight, a satisfying end to the best Batman's ever been in a video game.