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Batman: Arkham Knight Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Rocksteady Studios
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
June 23, 2015

Gotham is beyond a city in trouble. “Trouble” was evacuated and fled to safety; all that remains is fear and despair and an overwhelmingly palpable sense of chaos. The metropolis is in the iron grip of several villains and the police are at a loss. Obviously, only one man can solve this problem and he wears a cape and has lots and lots of fancy gadgets only a billionaire could create. He can deliver the town from evil without breaking a sweat, right? Well, the criminal underworld has a plan to take down the great Batman and it’s going to require all of the Caped Crusader’s prodigious abilities to escape harm this time. On top of which, Bruce Wayne must finally face down his darker side.

It’s perhaps the darkest and boldest setting yet for a Batman adventure, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Arkham Knight visuals reflect that oppressive darkness. Despite the lack of color, Rocksteady emphasizes gorgeous shading and lighting to present an environment never devoid of interest or intrigue. There’s a glossy sheen to absolutely everything, as if it only just rained. The slickness of this landscape doesn’t require the sun to glint and shine, and you’ll constantly be impressed with the scope and attention to detail. While not the biggest, this is one of the most graphically accomplished open-world environments we’ve ever seen.

For added technical superiority, we turn to a wonderful (albeit occasionally subdued) score, excellent combat and atmospheric effects, and unparalleled voice performances. This is indeed one of the best voiceover casts ever assembled for a video game; Kevin Conroy returns to play the guttural Batman, Troy Baker lends his diverse talents to Two-Face and the Arkham Knight, Nolan North (from Uncharted fame) is memorable as The Penguin, and Tara Strong’s Harley Quinn is nigh-on perfect. That’s hardly the full list of excellence; check IMDB to be further impressed. The effects continue to meld beautifully with the stellar music, and even the ambient effects are second-to-none. Truly a cut above in this category.

There is something wonderfully appealing and endlessly intoxicating about Batman: Arkham Knight . But before I gush and praise, let me put one thing aside: As a continued advocate of the improvement of video game writing, I will say this narrative seems a tad childish for me. I get that we’re talking about superheroes, so we should have the tongue-in-cheek vibe along with outrageous villains and impossible heroic situations. Therefore, one can expect a certain amount of predictability and painfully obvious metaphors that even the semi-literate will easily comprehend. But I still think we can ask for a little more. We can ask for some subtlety, for instance; good storytelling is about “showing,” not “telling.” I just wish more game writers understood this.