Ever since Rocksteady showed off their creative talent for Batman in video games with Arkham Asylum, I’ve been dreaming of a sequel based in the heart of Gotham. Since the unveiling of Arkham Knight there’s been no doubt that Rocksteady would strike perfection once again, and since I got my hands-on with the game at E3, it seems as though I’m not wrong. Playing on the PS4 build of the game, I sat with one of the team and got to work.
Taking place a year after the events of Arkham City, the death of the Joker has left an open space for other criminals to make their mark. With many story threads left open at the end of the last game there are plenty of situations that Batman will have to overcome, but it’s fear that’ll be lurking in the background throughout your journey, particularly the fear of the ruthless Arkham Knight and Batman’s most dangerous foe yet.
It was hard not to be overwhelmed by how much more detail Batman’s animation had garnered, especially with the dynamic weather effects, as the rain splashed off of his increasingly realistic cape and splashed around his boots as he walked. I was even told that if I looked hard enough, I’d be able to make out individual rail droplets running down the windows, it was simply stunning.
Jumping off the structure I glided down towards a nearby guard building and performed a takedown mid-glide through the glass window. With a handful of enemies in a tight spot I managed to perform a couple of environmental takedowns, using a nearby fuse box and table to incapacitate some of my opponents. Unfortunately one of the workers had been killed and Batman wasn’t happy. Using a nearby control panel I opened up the main door and remote controlled the Batmobile for a grand entrance. By putting the winch on the front to good use, I managed to create a make-shift ramp from part of the broken bridge and used my thrusters to jump across.
Already in the Batmobile and ready to rock, I transformed into battle mode and glided over the ground, whilst using my heavy weapons to destroy the unarmed military tanks honing in on me with their missiles. With the push of the X button I was able to boost from side-to-side, helping me avoid any projectiles heading my way. Unfortunately my skill in the car didn’t quite match that of my free-flow combat, and I got hit several times, but eventually destroying the vehicles in my path. Now onto the next marker, I remained in battle mode and effortlessly slid across the ground and through railings and metal piping. It’s true to say that nothing gets in your way when you’re in the car and when I came across enemies up ahead, I simply used my riot suppressor to knock them out and finished it off with a glide takedown, launching straight from the Batmobile at speed.
With Scarecrow shipping fear toxin into Gotham city, all citizens have been evacuated and now the hunt begins for his fear toxin bomb. The mission I played focused on the A.C.E. chemicals compound on the outskirts of the city, getting given the task of tracking down multiple workers taken hostage on-site. Over the course of my playthrough I drove the Batmobile, interacted with the Arkham Knight, solved puzzles and engaged in the evolved free-flow combat system.
As Commissioner Gordon waited outside the facility, Batman rocked up to offer his assistance. After a short introduction to the Arkham Knight, who seems eager to exact his revenge on the caped crusader that very night, the Scarecrow kindly tells him to be patient, before he blows up the bridge to the facility and departs in his helicopter. Grappling up to the facility it’s clear that the animation has been refined, even the action of the rope exiting the grapple gun looks more natural and fluid, as the rope fires out and picks up its slack once latched onto an object.
Oracle, who is in constant communication, let me know that each of the workers have their own specific I.D. cards, all I had to do was track their individual signals. In order to do so I firstly had to reach the highest point in the area, which I did with ease using the new chain-grapple ability. By double tapping the grapple button as I made my way up a structure, Batman would seamlessly join onto the next point, using any ledges of scenery to give him a boost. With a throw of my bat scanner I circled the complex and scanned the area until the controller vibrated on a certain spot. Holding down the X button I decrypted the signal and marked their location, I continued to do this until I had found all five I.D. markers.
It doesn’t come as much surprise, but Arkham Knight already seems like Rocksteady’s finest title yet. Even from this small glimpse in my hands-on, my mind boggles at the prospect of taking all of my abilities to the heart of Gotham, especially with the seamless nature in which both Batman and the Batmobile work together. It may have been delayed until 2015, but I couldn’t be happier, and I can’t wait for Rocksteady to go out with a bang. Keep tuned to this one, I think we’ve got GOTY material on our hands.