The next year is shaping up to be a dream year for gamers. The likes of Assassins Creed: Unity, Destiny, Mortal Kombat X, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Evolve, Battlefield: Hardline etc. will be hitting the shelves and chewing up hours of our respective lives. However, one title stands out amongst the others for me; Batman: Arkham Knight. The conclusion to Rocksteady’s glorious Arkham series, it’s looking to be the best of the series yet! I’m not saying that this game will be better than any of the others I mentioned above per se, but it will easily be my top pick for 2015 not only for how incredible it looks, but also since it’s the end of an era and I’m excited for the thrilling conclusion.
While I didn’t get any hands on time with Arkham Knight at E3 this past June, a theatre full of Batman enthusiasts and I were treated to an impressive video showcasing what would be offered in the thrilling conclusion to the Arkham trilogy. What I saw solidified Arkham Knight as my top pick for not only E3, but of 2015 as well. While other games have caught my eye, no game has wrapped me in such excitement!
The hands-off video was showed a level that, knowing Rocksteady, may or may not be in the final game. Batman must rescue some employees of Ace Chemicals, a mainstay of the Batverse, and he stumbles upon a much greater threat. Here, they showcased the stunning new graphics which utilize the current gen engines in dramatic contrast with the previous games. While I expected the graphics to be a step up from Arkham City since it’s coming out on modern consoles, I was stunned by how good the game looked. Batman himself looked much more detailed than previous iterations, but it was the seamless transitions between gameplay and cinematic that really stood out to me. In one part, Batman throws a batarang to detect the locations of the kidnapped employees and the batarang circles the entire plant, not only showing the scale of the area in which you have to explore, but it also showed the army of enemies you will have to take on, Gotham city appears in the background amidst a massive storm gripping the city. The waves crashed around Ace Chemicals, torrential rain bombarded the entire city as tanks and foot soldiers secured the chemical plant and then the batarang came back to Batman and you were right back into gameplay seamlessly.
The new aspects of gameplay were also impressive. The free flow combat, a staple of the Arkham series, is firmly present, but it now features the ability to interact even more with the environment. Whether it’s pane of glass, a fuse box or even a door, they are all now weapons that can be utilized in your free flow combos. The biggest and best part of the new game is how Rocksteady listened to its rabid fanbase and added in the one thing that everyone felt was missing from the other games – the Batmobile. The Batmobile has two modes; Pursuit and Battle mode. In pursuit mode, you race around the environment at insane speeds as you drift around corners and rappel yourself across chasms utilizing your afterburners to traverse almost any gap. You can even pull down gates or sections of wall using a grappling hook and the Batmobiles impressive horsepower. When you run into enemies, switch into Battle Mode where the always impressive array of firepower Batman brings to the table is on display. Blow tanks up, blow helicopters out of the sky, use beanbags on human targets; the Batmobile has it all covered. The best feature I saw was how you can remote control the Batmobile and you can use that in your free flow combos, too. Upper cut an opponent and click the appropriate button and the Batmobile will clear an enemy clean out of the room. Henchmen have never faced a greater threat then Batman in Arkham Knight.
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Another great aspect of Arkham Knight, and the entire Arkham series, is its choice in villains. With the removal of the Joker in previous game, the Scarecrow seemingly steps in as the master villain, pulling the strings behind the scenes. As with previous Arkham games, I have no doubt that each and every villain you encounter will feature the usual in-depth use of DC history to motivate players to find out all about them. I’m very interested to see what Scarecrow has planned for the Bat and how that will involve Gotham’s other super villains. However, I was most impressed with Rocksteady’s choice of incorporating the newly created Arkham Knight as its other major villain. All we know thus far is that he’s taken the visage of the Dark Knight as is bent on revenge against our hero and only multiple hours consumed at your console of choice will tell you why!
Ultimately, based on my love of Batman and the Arkham series, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Arkham Knight was going to be a top pick for me. However, the stunning new graphics, gameplay and villain choices have put it overwhelmingly ahead of the competition. With the Dark Knight trilogy already wrapped up in theatres and now with the Arkham trilogy finishing off, the greatest time to be a Bat fan is coming to an end. Can a new generation of Batman games and movies capture the same amazing quality? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the release of Arkham Knight will be the best release of 2015 for me, if only to mark the end of this amazing era.