What to Love about Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight has had a rough launch, but it still a game we keep coming back to despite its faults. Here are some of the big reasons why it's worth going back to Gotham one last time. 


WARNING: This article contains major spoilers.

Between the poorly optimized PC release of Batman: Arkham Knight, the tiresome Batmobile gameplay, and some pretty major plot issues, we've been pretty hard on Batman. It's ok, he can take it. After all, he's wearing heavy armor. But seriously, despite all its faults, Arkham Knight is still a game we find ourselves coming back to and see through to the end. Beneath the Batmobile shaped exterior is still an enjoyable Batman game, and here's what makes the Dark Knight's send-off so memorable.

The Suit Makes the Batman

At one point, the Arkham Knight asks whether or not it's actually Batman's skill or the power of the new suit that makes him such a formidable force. The answer to that was kind of settled at the beginning of Arkham City, before Bruce Wayne has a chance to put on his Batman outfit. He doesn't necessarily need bullet proof armor or a belt full of gadgets to crack a few skulls, but they certainly come in handy.

The new Batsuit allows him to move faster while retaining all the features of the previous one. That includes dive bombing people, detective vision, and gliding across the city when you're tired of the Batmobile. It can even allows the Dark Knight to go straight into a takedown right after zipping up a building. But its best feature is the multi-target takedowns, which lets him eliminate a up to five opponents that are standing near each other. It's an invaluable tool when confronting large groups, especially if some are carrying troublesome weapons like shields or shock batons.

Sadly, there isn't much in the way of new gadgets, but the Disruptor ends up being an invaluable tool, which allows Batman to sabotage weapons, equipment, and drones. It can be used in combination with the Voice Synthesizer to set up traps, thereby thinning out groups before jumping into the fight.

In any case, Scarecrow has his fear gas, and the Arkham Knight has a private army with trained soldiers and a mess of remote controlled drones. Those should be about enough to take on one guy in a Batsuit.

Friends and Fisticuffs

The signature features of any Arkham game include the hand-to-hand freeflow and the Predator mode, where Batman quietly takes picks off his enemies one at a time. Both received upgrades over the course of the trilogy, mostly in ways to make it more challenging, but the core gameplay has remains more-or-less the same as it is with Arkham Asylum. This is core area where Batman really shines, whether players enjoy jumping straight into the fight, eliciting fear and panic by being a ghost, or a combination of the two.

Although fans might be used to multiple fighting styles in Arkham City, where they could play as Catwoman, Nightwing or Robin in the DLC expansions, Arkham Knight brings the concept up a notch with fight scenes where players can switch perspectives on the fly. If you prefer Catwoman's whip or Nightwing's fast moves over Batman's hard-hitting moves, then you can switch off and wreck enemies as you please. The game even has cooperative takedown moves, which allows the fighting duo to quickly take care of large enemies. It's just a shame that there aren't that many of these fight sequences, and they all take place in isolated areas. The Arkham Knight would his work cut out for him if both Batman and Robin decided to hit a couple Watchtowers and Fortifications together.

As an added bonus, the Harley Quinn DLC provides a short look at the kind of content players can look forward to in the future. We would have liked to see more of the world through her crazed and violently insecure perspective.

Fear Is All In Your Head

The secondary villains in Arkham Knight are seriously downplayed, but that means the primary ones have a chance to really shine. Scarecrow (with great voice acting by John Noble) is creepier than he has ever been. His plan ends up being a little half baked midway through the game, but you've got to hand it to guy, he likes to see things through. When the man wants to bomb a city with fear gas, he finds a way to get it done, whether it makes sense or not.

But really, its Joker that steals the show. Now that the Clown Prince of Crime is no longer stuck scheming over his next prank or dying a slow death, he's free to fully engage with his nemesis. Even better, Joker is all in Batman's head, so he can follow him around, offer up witty commentary, brutally mock his friends, and show up in unexpected places. We even get a glimpse of what Gotham would look like if Joker won, and it's a gloriously chaotic sight. If this really is the last time Mark Hamill does the voice for Joker, then it's a great note to end on.

Plus, it shows that Batman's greatest enemy isn't Arkham Knight, Hush, Scarecrow or any of the other big names in the rogues gallery. It's his inner Joker.

The Line Between Hero and Vigilante

While patrolling the streets of Gotham, you might overhear a conversation where one guard tells another that Batman is actually an agent of the government. Batman allows the police to get around pesky rules like police brutality (Batman breaks a man's arm for no reason), getting search warrants, and other procedural matters. Why else would the police department let a costumed vigilante do whatever he wants? In actuality, the GCPD let's Batman do whatever he wants because they couldn't stop him even if they wanted to.

At one point, Batman saunters into the GCPD's evidence room, shatters a display case, and takes the Electric Bolt Gun from it. As he walks out, the officer in charge of evidence lockup exclaims, "I ain't gonna try to stop him." In a different scene, Cash has a moment of self realization and states, "Who am I kidding? We've all been working for you." It's true. Commissioner Gordon hasn't issued a single command since the evacuation, and it's been Batman who has been hauling in criminals and calling all the shots. It highlights the strange, uneasy, relationship Batman has had with the police all along.

Also, let's not overlook how Batman has a secret prison. More than one, considering the encounter with Hush. There, he holds victims infected with Joker's blood against their will (although the woman might be staying willingly) while Robin tries to find some miraculous cure. Batman even gives Jim Gordon a tour of this illegal prison, and the Commissioner lets him get away with it. He never asks what Batman intends to do with these victims if he never finds a cure. Hold them indefinitely? Turn them over to another prison or asylum, even though they haven't committed any crimes? Luckily, killing the prisoners off prevented Batman from having to make that decision.

Arkham Knight possesses a larger degree of self-awareness than previous games, and often questions Batman's role as the city's protector. All Scarecrow had to do was attack one diner and issue a public threat to cause a complete city evacuation. It illustrates the citizens of Gotham didn't really believe that Batman or the police could stop him. And who could blame them? If Batman is a bigger symbol of law and order than the police, then it might be time to move.

Burning Down the House

Despite whatever faults the game might have, Arkham Knight is still the final game in the trilogy. Being so, the developers are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want with the characters, which includes killing them off. If players didn't know already, they got their first big indication that all bets were off when Oracle (Barbara Gordon) commits suicide in a fear-gas induced panic.

Batman is not afraid of dying, so the only way to raise the stakes is by threatening his allies, and so the body count rises. Although Ivy's mission to track down ancient trees can get really annoying, it is a fantastic sight to watch giant plants rise up from the ground to permanently change Gotham's landscape. Her sacrifice was unexpected, even thought it was in the name of saving plants. Additionally, it provides a fascinating plot twist, because despite all of Batman's efforts and teammates, it ultimately took a super villain to thwart Scarecrow's plans.

We're told from the start of the game that this is how the Batman dies, and we're all bearing witness to the end of a figure who straddles the line between order and chaos, the law and vigilantism. He just happens to wear heavy armor, wields high-tech gadgets, claims to be a pacifist who breaks bones, and drives a tank. With that in mind, the Nightfall Protocol is a nice, big, send-off befitting the Dark Knight.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    July 2, 2015 2:30 PM

    Steven Wong posted a new article, What to Love about Batman: Arkham Night

    • reply
      July 2, 2015 2:32 PM

      It was a lovely, balmy, Arkham Night when we met...

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      July 2, 2015 4:30 PM

      The first thing to love about the game is how it says to the PC Elite, "We have your money woohoo" while skipping down the street throwing money in the air making it rain.

    • reply
      July 2, 2015 4:34 PM

      The eldritch horrors and creepy ambiance. Occasional visitors from Yuggoth. Or did you mean Knight?

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        July 2, 2015 4:41 PM

        I didn't realise they weren't talking about the recent Batman game. I really should read words correctly.

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      July 2, 2015 4:51 PM

      You mean Arkham Knight? This from the website that says Ubisoft is a Canadian company.

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      July 2, 2015 6:44 PM

      Honestly it was my favorite Arkham Game thus far. I really felt like i was in the batman universe.

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        July 2, 2015 6:47 PM

        I think I spec'd wrong or something. I don't think I'm playing right. I have max armor for batman and max reload time on the batmobile. But some of these fights towards the end are a bit of a struggle. I'm just glad I have this on my SSD and on pc because dying over and over on the console would suck because of load times.

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          July 2, 2015 6:48 PM

          I also have just been mostly playing the main story (which is almost complete) so I don't think I have the upgrades I would have if I wouldn't have just focused on that.

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            July 2, 2015 6:50 PM

            Getting some weapon upgrades will make the latter tank battle a lot easier. It's probably worth doing some of that.

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              July 2, 2015 7:08 PM

              Right now the tank battles seem pretty easy. I just forget which moves to do on which mobs to take them down. So I die over and over until I finally get one of those hints that's like "oh, you should probably do this so you don't die again" while fighting.

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                July 2, 2015 7:47 PM

                Oh. Well, I really like the combat and haven't really had any issues there, so I just assumed.

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      July 2, 2015 7:59 PM

      This was a great writeup.

      I watched some footage of Batmobile combat on the PS4 and got jealous because it's so much smoother there. But, it didn't stop me from putting in 40 hours into my PC copy with an eye on the New Game+ they have in there.

      Bugs and all, it's a great game.

    • reply
      July 3, 2015 5:37 AM

      Good write-up, but don't read if you want to avoid spoilers.

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