Rocksteady Studios took the Batman franchise to new heights in the video game realm. In 2009 it unveiled Batman: Arkham Asylum, a surprisingly in-depth adventure that made great use of the Dark Knight's capabilities, as well as his wonderful toys. In 2011, the team returned with an even bigger and better sequel, Arkham City, which expanded Batman's playground as he battled villains in the hopes of uncovering a nefarious plot.
Both games defined how to do a comic book video game right, but we haven't seen anything yet. The team is saving its finest work for the forthcoming Batman: Arkham Knight, which will ascend to store shelves this June and wrap up the trilogy in style. We think it will be the biggest and best Batman game to date, and there are several reasons for this.
The Gang's All Here – With Someone New
Even though the Joker is missing in action this time around (those who played the previous games will know why), Arkham Knight still has plenty of villains. Two-Face and the Penguin are back to wreck havoc (with Troy Baker and Nolan North voicing them, respectively), and Harley Quinn has her own plans, ready to put Batman in his place once and for all.
We can’t forget about the Scarecrow as well. The hallucinogenic creep returns with all sorts of tricks up his sleeve, and he's the primary reason that Gotham's been evacuated in the first place, with several bombs around the city that you'll (eventually) have to deal with. That, and he has a whole new side chapter where Batman must overcome the effects of his drugs to stop him once and for all.
Then there's the Arkham Knight, a mysterious figure out to put Batman down for good. In addition, he brought an army with him, which Batman will have to contend with throughout the course of the game. Your brushes with the Knight will no doubt be high points – along with finding out eventually who he is.
A Bigger, Badder Gotham
Previous Batman games have grown in size over the years, from the stretches of Arkham Asylum to the vastness of Arkham City to the even bigger terrain of Batman Arkham Origins (which was worked on by WB Australia, not Rocksteady). For Knight, however, Rocksteady threw down the gauntlet, as Gotham is nearly four times the size of the terrain in previous stages. That's a lot to explore.
Fortunately, the developer made getting around the city a breeze. If you don't feel like riding in the Batmobile, you can use Batman's gliding capabilities to explore, or shoot the grappling hook to quickly climb up buildings. As always, you can drop in on foes as well with a well-timed glide kick.
There's a lot to see and do in the game, so be prepared to invest several hours in getting it done.
The Intimidation Factor
Batman's fighting techniques remain awesome, as he can fend off a group of foes with some slick combination attacks, as well as counters that can stop even the heaviest of weaponry. However, with Arkham Knight, Rocksteady managed to make him even more bad-ass, if that's even possible.
For Arkham Knight, Rocksteady outfitted the Caped Crusader with a new intimidation system. Here, he can line up a room full of enemies, and rather than using stealth to take them out (though that remains an option), he can simply dart around the room and deal with them much quicker than before. This is a great and convenient way to clear an area of bad guys, especially when you're trying to save innocent people.
That and Batman's "toys" will once again come into play, whether you're using the Batarang, grapple cable or some of the other slick gadgets, like the explosive gel.
The Tumbler? Oh, We Want That
Finally, let's talk about the Batmobile. This is the vehicle's first true introduction to the series, as you'll finally be able to get behind the wheel and do some damage. This Batmobile has roughly the same build as the one featured in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, so it definitely packs some strength. You can bust through walls with ease, and even damage a few vehicles with a well-placed ram. That, and you can fire off rocket boosters to easily reach the other side of bridges, just as you saw in the films.
For good measure, the Batmobile is also incredibly well-armed. Over the course of the game, you'll be able to fire missiles to bring down smaller enemies, while also firing weapons to create entryways into otherwise inaccessible areas. For bigger combat scenarios (for instance, against the Arkham Knight's rogue tanks), you'll be able to transform into a tank and fight back with a full arsenal. Your movement will be a bit more limited here as a result, but the payoff is tremendous as you blow everything to bits.
Finally, the Batmobile will always be on call. No matter where you leave it parked, you'll be able to summon it within seconds and hit the road again, so you can get where you need to go very quickly. Can’t wait.
Batman: Arkham Knight releases on June 2nd for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.