A Masterpiece in Disguise
Here at Scoophash we pride ourselves on opinions that sometimes fall outside the norm. Honestly that might be the most hipster thing that I’ve ever started out with. Anyways, we’re here to talk about a forgotten and underappreciated masterpiece; Batman: Arkham Knight.
The follow up to Rocksteady’s critical and commercial blockbuster game, Arkham Knight is the epic finale to Batman’s story. With a much stronger emphasis on story, characters and tone and pushing boundaries with an M-rating.
So let us dive right in, because we’re gonna be here for a minute!
Batman’s Best Story
It’s hard to pin down exactly which comics that Arkham Knight takes inspiration from. Possibly with elements from a few different elements from some heavy hitter storylines that everyone should know at this point.
Probably the two biggest influences for Arkham Knight are; Knightfall and Kings of Fear. Knightfall focuses on a Gotham City where the Batman is defeated and the city becomes a cesspool of rampant crime. Over the course of the story, he takes on Azrael as his successor, who begins to cave in under the pressure.
Kings of Fear is about Batman hunting Scarecrow after he utilizes a stronger fear toxin on inmates at Arkham Asylum. Leading to a long manhunt where Batman faces his fears and insecurities all throughout.
Easy to see the inspiration, right? Yet, Arkham Knight does the best thing that you can do, it never lifts scenes straight from those inspirations. With the exception of roughly two different moments, one of which is a carbon copy of Killing Joke, everything is original. Which speaks to Rocksteady’s ability to tell an original story, comparable to the tone and originality of the Nolan films.
While the game may have been out for a while, we have to say that we don’t want to spoil anything in this game’s story. There’s a few truly shocking and tear jerking moments. Everything from nostalgia, shock value, plot twists and the incredible ending.
All you need to know about the story is that Scarecrow manages to convince Gotham citizens to evacuate the city. Leaving only the criminals, Batman, the police and himself. A playground of terror, crime and thematic resolution. Batman finds himself questioning not only the efficacy of his methods, but the effect that he has on the city and the people around him.
Is he really a savior, a hero or is he just in the way of the city truly finding a better place? After all, if the criminals only break out and do everything all over again, with more people dying every time, what is the point? Do we really need a Batman, or does he need the criminals? Arkham Knight asks some hard questions, and if you’re willing to find the answers, it has some hard realities to face.
Best Facial Animations and Graphics Outside of Last of Us and Halo 4
One thing that always threw us off in the earlier games was the odd mix of classic Batman art styles with motion capture software. Yes the graphics were amazing and still hold up to this day, but hearing Conroy and seeing Zack Snyder like art style was really weird.
Additionally, the way that every character was hyper buff or sexy was really odd. Now don’t get us wrong, we never complained about the way that characters like Batman, Catwoman and Joker looked. But, it was just weird that they looked like they were ripped straight from the animated Justice League series more than a few times.
Arkham Knight completely remedies that. Catwoman looks way more natural, Batman is way more proportionate, Jim Gordon doesn’t look like JK Simmons etc. A lot of that is due to the absolutely exceptional motion capture performances and animations.
Because holy hell, the fact that there’s tiny minor things like pupil dilation, creases in the smiles, individual lining of the teeth… When a game from 2015 can rival latest releases like The Last of Us Part II is a huge testament to Rocksteady’s attention to detail.
Plus, it’s present on every single character model. It might be annoying to try, but if you zoom in during fights, or observe active NPC’s you’ll see that same attention to detail. I mean, when you finish a fight you can look at thugs on the ground and they still breathe and groan until you leave. Sure, that might just be to excuse Batman from being a killer after he suplexes you at Mach 6 into the pavement. It’s just a fantastic attention to minor detail that only Rocksteady could pull off.
Combat Has Never Felt So Good
It says quite a lot that Arkham Knight has better feeling combat than fighting games. The Freeflow combat system that was introduced in Asylum has been fine tuned to absolute perfection in this game. Want to know what it feels like to be the Batman, taking on multiple foes and metahumans? Look no further than Arkham Knight.
Easy to say that it was a mild improvement, but honestly the combat is perfect. Now you can pick up weapons, perform environment takedowns, fight larger groups of enemies, utilize the Fear Takedowns etc.
Similarly, the Predator gameplay has been perfectly adjusted and improved upon. Stalking enemies who all have new ways of finding you feels so satisfying. Building up a fear meter. Finding inventive ways to knock enemies into the geography and silently taking them down. You feel like a master of the shadows.
Lastly, something that we want to specifically address in this, the Batmobile. Now, maybe we just didn’t have the same experience that everyone else had. We found the Batmobile driving to actually be some of our favorite moments in the entire game. Racing around a rain slicked Gotham, crushing walls and derelict cars into mounds of scrap metal is insanely fun.
Utilizing the Batmobile for the Riddler puzzles and some sections of the story felt like a very Batman thing to do. Using everything at his disposal to complete tasks and solve situations in unorthodox ways. We never once had an issue with the Batmobile feeling sluggish or annoying to use.
Again, maybe we got lucky. But considering I spent over 20 hours in this game the first time just trying to get that secret ending, I think it’s fair to say that I’m familiar.
Must There Be a Batman
We love the Arkham games. When it comes to myself in particular, I’m borderline obsessed with the games. Just recently I replayed Asylum and City prior to Knight, and I felt almost compulsory to complete everything. Riddler trophies, interview tapes, various side missions etc.
I felt like I had to complete everything, that I had to be Batman and do my duty and digiliance to make the city safe. Is there really any better praise for a comic book video game? Making you feel so much like the character that you feel compelled to 100% the whole game?
And maybe we’re the minority, but Arkham Knight is the best example of that. You feel so much like Batman in this game that it’s almost an out of body experience at times. Punishing the dregs of the crime world with hard hitting combat. Stalking unsuspecting prey, and even solving horrendous crimes perpetrated by a serial killer.
All wrapped up in one of Batman’s most compelling stories that has ever been told in any medium whatsoever. The fact that from second zero to hour twenty I was still finding things, I was still compelled and still hunting is a testament to the game.
Now look, we will finally admit, the reveal of the Arkham Knight is the one downside to this game for us. Maybe we’ve read way too many comics and seen way too many movies, but we automatically knew who he was. But, Rocksteady still tried to turn it around in an interesting way, so we’ll give them credit for that.
We firmly believe that Arkham Knight does not get the credit and remembrance that it deserves. Admittedly, it can be a daunting task to one up yourself from Arkham City, but they one upped Asylum, so why not a second time?
Is it really so hard to believe that Rocksteady really wanted to improve everything from City? Because in our opinion, they absolutely did. Motion capture is next level, music is outstanding, combat is perfect and the side content is engaging.
Riddler trophies are nearly tripled in amount, the map is three times the size and the graphics are truly fantastic. Every little detail from the neon signs to the individual rain droplets that slide down character models. Rocksteady pushed themselves in a new direction and came away with something incredible.
Now, if you disagree with us, that’s perfectly fine, and we’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment and let us know your opinion on Arkham Knight!