Friday, 3 July 2015

Batman Arkham Knight: PS4 Review

Batman Arkham Knight: PS4 Review


Studio: Rocksteady
Publisher: Warner Bros Games
Platform: PS4

It's no lie to say that the Batman series has been excellent on the console.

A heady mix of sleuthing, combat, great voice work and attention to story and DLC has meant that anticipation for the conclusion of the series has easily reached fever pitch. Leaving aside the fact there are issues affecting the PC Version of Arkham Knight, it's worth making sure that you go to whatever lengths are necessary to get this.

The story takes up after the end of Arkham Origins and starts on a particularly bleak and dark note as you get to incinerate / cremate one of Bat's nemeses. It's the visual equivalent of a punch to the gut and really does give you the feeling that this latest take on Gotham is the end of the road.

And after that start, Batman's finding the city of Gotham has settled into an uneasy peace, with a vacuum filling the quiet streets. However, that's all trumped, when the Scarecrow shows up on the scene, threatening the city with a fear gas attack that prompts a mass evacuation and kicks Batman into action. Throw in an unknown villain, the Arkham Knight, who's determined to kill Batman...

There's no denying that Batman: Arkham Knight has scope.

Gotham is huge and flying through the air with the Batman, wind flapping through his cape, it's exhilarating stuff. Gliding through the skylines you can use all of the prior Batman gadgets and weapons as well as beatdowns, which have already been prevalent in the previous outings.

Combat is still as fluid as it was; this time though, a few new moves have been added in including Fear attacks where you target victims as you're beating down the first. There's a definite fluidity to the game and it's a touch which really does make you feel like you're the Batman, meting out justice.

The story is epic, and once again, it's up to you to switch between detective mode, tracking down clues - though the focus this time isn't as strong on that front, which is probably a good thing lest the studios get accused of repeating themselves.

Side missions litter the game - with over 200 from the Riddler alone guaranteeing that the side-lines could give the completist gamer a real headache as they try strive to make the grade and the inevitable trophies on offer.

Once again, the main star of the Batman Arkham games is the story and voice-work. Kevin Conroy's Batman's never sounded better but I think the real hero of the piece is ironically John Noble. The Fringe star's turn as The Scarecrow exudes inherent menace all wrapped up in the silky tones of the Aussie actor. As his voice booms around in parts of the game, there's certainly the dread feeling the game needs.

And it's a good thing, because the main addition to the proceedings is somewhat of a disappointment - the Batmobile. While it looks incredible in slow-mo cut scenes as it rushes to meet its master (oh yeah, you can remote control) and can work to help fire you into the sky, there's too much of a reliance of the car in the main game, certainly the earlier parts. Using the grappling hook and guns to take out drones and tanks, there's no other option but to utilise the Batmobile. Equally, some of the Riddler missions require the vehicle. Rocksteady, we get it, it's cool, but it's not really why I love the immersiveness of the Arkham games, and certainly it slows the pace as you realise once again you have no choice but to clamber in and fire up the jets.

Upgrades, combos and weapons, as well as suits can all be bought in-game and all work well, but there's nothing to really beat soaring through the air, listening to conversations of the criminal element inhabiting Gotham.

If this is really the end of the road for the Arkham games (aside from the amounts of DLC on the way), it's a great finish for the series and a great entrance into the next gen world.

Fantastic rendering on the PS4's grunt gives it a graphical edge that really breathes seedy life into Gotham - but the thrill of Arkham Knight is seeing Rocksteady's vision, verve and years of association with Batman play out.

It's a game that if you've invested the time in the others, you can't afford to be without and Batman Arkham Knight is a masterclass on how to do a genre game the justice it deserves.

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