Batman: Arkham Knight Preview (PS4)
Over the last few years, Rocksteady Studios’ Arkham series has always been considered the definitive Batman experience. But, it wasn’t until I got to see their latest installment, Batman: Arkham Knight, that I knew just how much further the studio could take the franchise and how much we had been missing from the world of the Dark Knight.
Sitting in a room with a handful of other journalists, Rocksteady Studios’ Dax Ginn and Gaz Deaves ran through an extended demo of their latest build of Batman: Arkham Knight. From the first moment of seeing the game in action, it was easy to tell just how much attention has been put into the game’s atmosphere and tone. As cutscenes no longer break the flow of gameplay, by cutting away, you can see your character land and start talking in a seamless transition that really keeps the world in a cohesive narrative.
Taking place just 12 months after the Joker’s fall in Arkham City, Gotham is once again at risk as the Scarecrow has taken the lead and assembled the infamous group of super villains known as the Rogues Gallery. Forcing Batman to jump into action again, but this time, Rocksteady have built out Arkham City completely, allowing him to traverse the world like never before. On top of being able to use the hookshot to bound forward and glide around, Batman now has access to his Batmobile.
Looking like cross between what we have become familiar with as the Tumbler in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series, and the classic Batmobile, Arkham Knight looks to walk the line between the two. Watching the Batmobile barrel through walls, take out corners, destroy almost everything in its path and use an array of its own gadgets, it was easy to see the power behind Batman’s iconic ride. But, as impressive as the driving physics and modeling looked, the coolest aspect was Batman’s ability to call the Batmobile into action mid-decent, land in the cockpit, drive around town picking up speed and then ejecting out and using the momentum to cross huge areas of the map.
On top of being able to move around Arkham Knight’s incredibly big and detailed city faster, various changes to the combat have been made to make life a bit easier when you get your destination. Some of the more interesting additions were Batman’s ability to now use gadgets on the move, meaning he can glide into combat throwing batarangs to stun multiple foes, while drop kicking someone in the face. As well as the ability to steal weapons off of bad guys and use it against them. Also shown off, was the new ‘Fear Takedown’, which shows a sneaky Batman attack from a hidden duct and systematically beat down up to 3 people, before they could even respond.
Besides hints of Scarecrow’s presence and random foot soldiers, the only real villain shown off was the Riddler, who seems to be back to putting Batman through challenges. As one of the missions shown off was an underground race track built by the Riddler, that forced our caped hero to drive around opening doors and moving platforms around, while trying to get to the end as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, even though we have seen a great deal of Batman’s enemies in the previous installments, the developers at Rocksteady have not only taken into looking into the extended lore of the franchise, but have also been able to create a unique character themselves. Arkham Knight, originally thought to be a reference to the Dark Knight himself, is actually the name of a new character created for this Arkham entry. Little is known who this other masked man is, but given that his appearance begins and ends with him attacking Batman just before aiming a gun at his head, we can assume they aren’t on great terms.
From beginning to end, the demo shown off was visually stunning and impressive. Just watching our hero stand there with beads of rain stream down his cowl, while having Gotham in the backdrop, lush with wonderful hues of color was more than enough to make me glad that this is a next-gen only release. But, as impressive as the demonstration was, it did not run without a hitch. As it was riddled with bouts of framerate issues and even multiple crashes. Thankfully, the game has more than enough time to be cleaned up, and given how far along the project looks to be, I can’t say i’m terribly concerned.