I’ve got you under my skin… The sweet sound of swing snuck into my surround sound. Suspense slowly building with a creeping click, click, click of a chain gaining momentum on a gear. Slowly the camera focus changes from one object to another allowing that sense of unease to settle in… Is it the music? Is it the dark, eerie look? Or is it a combo of this paired with a perfectly slow timed focus on certain objects as the scene unfolds? With the camera focus slowly zooming out on the Jokers face, I knew that this is what they wanted. They wanted to get our attention. Not some of it, but all! What better way to creep into our minds than to hypnotize us. Jokers face stared at me for a few seconds too long. Making me think that maybe this was the plan all along. They hypnotize and then BAM, hit you with a cheap scare to wake you up. Luckily, for the sanity of my heart, this was not the case. Light him up boys!
After the death of the Joker, the city awaited the inevitable power struggle. The minutes, hours and eventually days came and gone but the struggle never did. However, it was only a matter of time until somebody stepped up to claim the title of Super Villain.
This is his life. Officer Owens found a liking to Pauli’s diner and made a point of visiting as often as he could. Often enough to have a “usual” order. After ordering his usual chicken salad with no dressing, Officer Owens decided to be a little adventurous. He just needed to keep this from his wife. Surprised, the waitress wrote down the new order: Waffles with a side of bacon. Instinct kicked in and Officer Owens gave the diner a once over. If training has taught him anything, it’s that he needs to be aware of his surroundings. It’s Halloween and they, the police force, needed to be extra vigilant. On Halloween people believed that their masks allowed them to do anything, without consequence. Officer Owens didn’t want any trouble, he just wanted to drink his coffee and enjoy his waffles. The illusion of a peaceful meal got interrupted when a civilian approached him. There is a guy smoking in the corner booth and he needed to address the situation. What seemed like a simple confrontation, quickly turned into his worst nightmare. With a threatened tomorrow, the city emptied. Yesterday there were 6.3 million people in Gotham city. Today… not so many. They lost control of the city in 24 hours and Gotham is relying on one man to save them all…
On June 23, 2015, Batman: Arkham Knight was made available for play. By October 2015, it was the fastest selling game with over 5 million copies sold worldwide. It has never felt this good to jump into the Batsuit and take to the streets of Gotham, so I really am not surprised by the stats.
Glide and grapple your way down to commissioner Gordon to touch base. Rocksteady Studios made the gliding an absolute dream. Batman’s cape spreads into the perfect patagium and notice the leg movement when gliding up and down. Not only visually appealing but feels good too! Let’s not forget about the grapple. This thing is amazing. I simply love how Rocksteady’s camera follows batman when he grapples up objects. Definitely feels like you are right there, in the action. Later in the game you’ll learn some more cool stuff, like grappling up buildings to use them for gaining momentum for that adrenaline rushing shoot and glide. Who said batman can’t fly? Get your first taste of combat upon saving officer Kevern, where cheeky men will shout out “fight me!”. Sit back and experience a movie like fight scene. Complete with slomo endings and all! The detail they went into in getting the body movements right is surprising. Like, I feel that they went all out to impress the people that spent money on their product. I respect that. Keep in mind this is a 2015 game, developed on Unreal Engine 3. So, this really is amazing work. A summary will appear at the end of each fight. Rating you on various things like max combo and enemy type for the calculation of your XP received.
XP once again is important because you want those upgrade points! Who wouldn’t want to unleash the full potential of the Batsuit and all other tech? There are six categories where you can invest your points in. Upgrade combat skills for extra fun on the ground, like getting help from the Batmobile on takedowns… or timed strikes to inflict double damage on those bad boys! Moving on to the second, we see Batsuit upgrades. The focus here is on armour improvement, grapple and glide attacks. My ultimate favourite is the fear multi-take down. Move in undetected on a group of enemies and swiftly take them out one by one, by means of a seamless chain attack. Batman would be long gone if it wasn’t for his tech. They have broken this up into two segments where the one is gadget tech and the other gadget skill. With the gadget tech, you’ll get to upgrade things like smoke pellet duration… this is important when you “accidently” jump into an area filled with gunmen. Remember, you are the good guy. You do not have a gun, so the only hope is outsmarting these guys when out of combat reach. Spend some points on the gadget skills as well to unlock things like snatching the weapons from enemies and increasing the amount of batarangs you can throw at them. Then there’s an upgrade section for our beast Batmobile! I get excited every time I mention this car, because who wouldn’t want to jump in behind the wheel of the Batmobile!? The upgrades here are a bit boring for my taste, but maybe just because I had higher hopes of what this beast should be able to do. The main focus of the upgrades on the Batmobile is on the armour and thrusters. Lastly, the Batmobile weapon upgrades allowing us to ultimately max our accuracy, rate of fire and reload times.
Screeching tires will bring conversation to a halt and Batman is determined to even the odds. Here it is guys… We get to drive the Batmobile! I AM BATMAN! Slowly Batman steps off the building like the surface never ended and dives face down to the streets of Gotham. This man truly has no fear of technology failing him. This first jump into the Batmobile is just glorious. The game play and cinematics transition is so smooth that you find yourself going from enjoying this game to enjoying this movie to enjoying the movie whilst fiddling with a remote! I am going off topic now, back to the Batmobile! The control on this beast isn’t all that great. I for one seriously needed to focus on driving “right” so that I don’t slip and slide all over the streets, knocking over pedestrians and destroying Gotham property. But what can this beast do? Besides the obvious of getting you from point A to point B, this beast gives us the option of entering combat mode. The combat mode choice of movement is pretty weird. It’s like the tar, turned to ice and you, on skates, are in a dodgeball fight sliding left and right to avoid getting hit. Mechanically it’s amazing though. They have each wheel independent of one another and able to make a 360 turn horizontally. Ah, how cool life would be if our cars weren’t limited to the movement of their axles! They have made the Batmobile crucial for some puzzle solving as well. Remember, this is not just a car but an extension of Batman’s capabilities! Blast through weak objects to gain entrance into some buildings, grapple and pull objects down or make that perfect ramp needed to get that ultimate jump right. If that wasn’t enough you can also remotely control the Batmobile. Stuck somewhere? Don’t panic, there is a high possibility your car can get you out of that sticky situation!
Overall the whole experience is exactly what you would expect a Batman movie to be like. Full of action and some puzzle solving mixed in. What good would the advanced tech be if they weren’t put to good use solving puzzles? Apart from the main story missions you will also get a few side missions to tackle as well. These vary from helping Gotham police department with solving murders to dealing with a range of well known villains. There are two endings to experience and you can continue with side missions after you have completed the main story.
One thing is for certain; never a dull moment in the life of Batman!
**All images used in this article are direct screenshots made on XBOX whilst playing the game.