The Batman: Arkham Knight dev team at Rocksteady have been working for some time now, shut away in a darkened cave (well, a reasonably well-lit games development studio) in an anonymous-looking business center, somewhere in-between Kentish Town and Highgate in north London. This is of course great news for PC gamers who fondly remember the studio’s first two games in the franchise, the critically lauded Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, and who will no doubt be more than happy to learn Arkham Knight appears to be a masterful return to form.
Arkham Knight is the fourth and final chapter in the story, and the game is a distillation and refinement of everything that made Rocksteady’s earlier two Batman games so great: the storyline, characters and particularly for the PC version of the game, the cutting-edge tech that integrates NVIDIA GameWorks and PhysX technologies from beginning to end. If you are looking to be wowed and want a game capable of showing off exactly why the definitive Batman experience is on PC, prepare to be satiated! From the frankly insane level of detail in the characters’ clothing and costumes to the fully destructible environments and loads more, it is clear why both Rocksteady and the tech gurus over at NVIDIA who they worked with closely on the project are incredibly proud of Arkham Knight.
The storyline: 75 years on the streets of Gotham City
Batman has been patrolling the streets of Gotham City for an amazing 75 years, with the Caped Crusader originally appearing in DC’s Detective Comics #27 way back in May 1939, drawn by artist Bob Kane and written by Bill Finger. The Dark Knight has proven to be one of the most enduringly popular superhero characters of all time, which perhaps explains why there has been such an incredible level of anticipation for Arkham Knight.
Story-wise, this is the final chapter in one of the most captivating narratives PC gamers have experienced. And this time around the battle is not for Arkham Asylum but for the whole of Gotham City, following a horrific terrorist attack by none other than Scarecrow. This devastating attack caused the good people of Gotham to flee the metropolis, leaving a desolate city inhabited by criminals, super-villains and ne’er-do-wells.
It is against this backstory that Scarecrow, Two-Face, Penguin and the new arch super-villain the Arkham Knight and others devise a dastardly plan to kill off Batman once and for all. We can’t for obvious reasons reveal too much detail about the story-arc right now, but what we can say is that the writing and game-directing dream team of Rocksteady’s Sefton Hill and Paul Crocker managed to surpass all expectations.
No mean feat, when you consider the amazing jobs these guys did with the first and second chapters in the series. Additionally, this time around, the team has been bolstered by the addition of one Martin Lancaster, who many PC gamers will know from his acclaimed work on the likes of Crysis, Crysis 2 and Killzone: Shadowfall.
The characters: returning favorites and some new faces
The Batman franchise has consistently won plaudits for its visual flair, and if those first couple of games in the franchise convinced an earlier generation of gamers to switch up to PC, this final title in the series will certainly do the same thing. The level of detail, care and technical skill that went into the character animation and designs is nothing less than outstanding.
Believe us when we say Batman has never looked better. The Dark Knight is rendered in a slightly more aggressive way in this latest outing, not to mention more heavily armored than ever before.
When it comes to the bad guys, there is a dastardly line-up of super-villains backing up the Scarecrow’s terrible team in Arkham Knight. This time around Batman will contend with in no particular order, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and a few more “surprise guests.”
Fans will also lap up the opportunity to play all of the additional playable characters in Arkham Knight, including Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Red Hood. Each character is beautifully rendered on the PC, which makes playing as any of the above never anything less than a joy. We should also point out that our hero and the cast of heinous villains he encounters are not the only characters worth mentioning in Arkham Knight. There are of course two others. The Batmobile, which this time around feels like a character in its own right, and the immense bleak sprawl of Gotham City.
Epic tech: Batmobile racing and Gotham City realized like never before
The Batmobile plays a key role in Arkham Knight, as Batman needs it to traverse the city, chasing super-villains at ridiculously high speeds in pursuit mode or fighting it out on the roads of Gotham in battle mode. Aside from these fast and fluid driving gameplay modes, perhaps the most pleasing element of using the Batmobile involves discovering the gadgets and gizmos, all of which have been specifically designed to help out the Caped Crusader with specific crime-fighting tasks and puzzle solving as you progress through the game. Rocksteady also built a Race Track feature into Arkham Knight, which will no doubt have you gunning the Batmobile at breakneck speeds to succeed.
This final chapter in the franchise sees the player move way beyond Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and out into the vast sprawl of Gotham. Gameplay is focused around three different island districts of the city, with each zone promising loads of new puzzles to solve and super-villains to contend with. Not only that, there are tons of cool new combat features and gadget-based puzzles to keep PC gamers coming back for more, with the ability to use weapons and gadgets while Batman is in mid-glide an especially neat touch.
Epic graphics: Batman has always been a showcase for next-gen graphics
The many deft and innovative uses of NVIDIA’s GameWorks and PhysX technologies are the reasons why the PC version of Arkham Knight is never anything less than stunning to play or look at in awe and admiration. And there is nothing that conveys the epic nature and grand ambition of this game than Gotham City itself.
Batman: Arkham Knight is finally out on June 23rd. If you are a PC gamer, you’ll be glad to hear that NVIDIA is offering a free copy of Batman: Arkham Knight with the purchase of a qualifying GeForce GTX graphics card. With it, you get access to new super-villains, new story missions, character skins, game maps, race tracks classic Batmobiles of old and loads more.
And if you are not (yet) a PC gamer, Rocksteady’s outstanding game design coupled with NVIDIA’s awesome technology in Batman: Arkham Knight will convince you to become one.