Rocksteady is back in the driver’s seat and fans of the Caped Crusader can’t wait to see the result. Although last year’s Batman: Arkham Origins wasn’t a bad game, it lacked that refinement, that polish, that extra flair we’ve come to expect from Rocksteady. With the original developer in charge of the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight, we have every right to be excited. However, bear in mind that the talented team is looking to take this franchise to the next level, and that includes taking a risk or two…
Obviously, one of the biggest updates will involve the sheer size of the game. Gotham City will be approximately 20 times bigger than what we enjoyed in Arkham Asylum, and it’ll feature a wide variety of distinct, even darkly exotic locales. The cool part is that despite this huge expansion, the designers aren’t prepared to sacrifice any of that wonderful detail we’ve appreciated in past entries. Therefore, it sounds like a win-win: A larger, more immersive, more dynamic environment that is every bit as detailed as the cities we’ve explored before.
And yes, as you might’ve heard the Batmobile will be included in the fun. It’s not simply for driving, either, as the powerful vehicle features a host of weaponry, including immobilizer missiles that should prove extremely useful. Rocksteady will really have to nail down the driving physics, though, because it will be a central mechanic in the adventure. We’ll even have Riddler challenges that take us through high-speed obstacle courses, so the driving had best be rock solid. Honestly, my favorite part is being able to call the Batmobile whenever you want; doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing.
You can also traverse Gotham City by way of gliding and the handy-dandy grapple gun. The latter tool has received an upgrade, as Batman can attach to buildings that are even farther away, and there’s a new reversal move. Basically, the hero can perform a 180-degree turn without breaking his in-flight speed. Combining the Batmobile with this upgraded form of environmental movement should result in unprecedented ease of exploration. Toss in some extra gadgets, such as the line launcher (offers an instant perch between structures) and the ability to throw Batarangs in mid-air, and Batman will be quite the capable vigilante.
As for combat, that free-flowing style everyone loves will return, along with a few appreciated upgrades. We’ll now have throw counters at our disposal, and we can even grab an enemy’s weapon and use it ourselves. The environment could prove immensely effective as well, as Batman can take advantage of his surroundings to inflict even more pain. This reminds me of the street fights in the Yakuza games, actually. Lastly, Rocksteady will be implementing a useful new maneuver called the “fear takedown.” This can be used when acting stealthily and it can incapacitate numerous enemies at once, including particularly dangerous ruffians.
Batman: Arkham Knight is shaping up to be the best Batman adventure yet. In fact, if everything goes well, I don’t see why it couldn’t become the single best superhero video game ever. Let’s cross our fingers because once this new title is out, the developer is done with the Arkham franchise. They’re going out with a bang, though, as they intend to embrace the power of next-gen consoles. One of the most promising games of the new generation will launch for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 14.
5/5/2014 Ben Dutka