The game Rocksteady fans deserve.
Both myself and many of my friends who played last year’s Batman: Arkham Origins came away feeling underwhelmed. It was a good attempt at providing another Batman experience like its two predecessors Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but in the end a larger game world and a few new gadgets weren't enough to keep fans from feeling like someone had let the air out of their tires or, in other words, it just felt flat. Batman: Arkham Knight has been revealed and it has been billed as the final chapter in Rocksteady’s Arkham Trilogy.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to get hands-on with Arkham Knight during E3. The demo opens with Commissioner Gordon and a few police officers at the bridge entrance to Ace Chemicals Batman arrives and learns the Scarecrow has the facility on lockdown and has taken hostages. A helicopter rises from below the bridge with the Arkham Knight at the controls. He launches a barrage of rockets taking out the bridge in an attempt to keep Batman from entering the facility. This is Batman we're talking about here, and he’s never one to back down from a challenge.
By now you’re probably already aware that the Batmobile will make its first appearance in an Arkham game with this installment. This whole time I was thinking the Batmobile was most likely going to be just a way to get around Gotham City much faster than by gliding. Boy, was I wrong! Batman is able to control the Batmobile by remote which is extremely useful (as you’re about to find out). I fired the roof mounted cannon’s tow cable at the damaged edge of the bridge. Once it was attached, I floored the Batmobile in reverse and was able to bend the remaining roadway into a makeshift ramp. The Batmobile’s controls should feel very familiar to anyone that’s played just about any sort of driving/racing game. You use the left stick to steer, the right triggers for gas and weapons.
What was a bit confusing at first was that I’d assumed the left trigger would be for braking and reverse, but to my surprise that’s what you hit to get the Batmobile transformed into Battle Mode. While in Battle Mode, the Batmobile controls like standard FPS controls; what I mean by that is the Batmobile moves in whatever direction you’re pushing the left stick. This comes in handy when you’re going head-to-head against enemy vehicles, where you can make tight turns to evade incoming enemy fire as well as have very precise controls when you need to traverse areas where you run the risk of driving off the road if you aren’t careful.
The combat in Batman: Arkham Knight has also been given some new bells and whistles. New takedowns and combos have been added including a plethora of new environment-based takedowns. The few I was able to perform were smashing an enemy into an electrical panel, jumping into the air to sever hanging lights from the ceiling and taking down a leaping enemy in mid-air who was trying to get the jump on me. A new sword-wielding henchman the dev referred to as a “Combat Expert” is supposedly able to go toe-to-toe with Batman… almost.
The coolest addition to me by far was the inclusion of the Batmobile during fight sequences. If the Batmobile has line-of-sight while you’re fighting and you build up your combo meter, you can trigger the Batmobile to fire non-lethal suppressive rounds to takedown enemies. It looks just as awesome as it sounds!
Batman: Arkham Knight may be the end of Caped Crusader’s trilogy, but this is his first outing on next-gen and it looks gorgeous. Everything I’ve played up to this point just flows beautifully and feels like a natural extension and a true progression of the series. With stunning visuals that just might make last-gen gamers make the jump to new hardware, Batman: Arkham Knight might make those that don’t feel like they're missing out on something special. Batman: Arkham Knight is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2015.