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Batman: Arkham Knight Review

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Good knight, and good luck

★★★★★

With 2009’s Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady Studios took Batman in a bold new direction. Cinematic flair and a best-in-class combat system enhanced a story that showcased Gotham’s most notorious villains at their scenery-chewing best. It was the game bat-fans had long awaited. Arkham City raised the bar still further, introducing an open world and giving free rein to explore the Gotham skyline at will. Only Arkham Origins, the Warner-developed third instalment, failed to show the World’s Greatest Detective at his absolute best.

With Rocksteady now back in the driving seat, this final entry in the series aims to send Bats out with a bang. The Joker is dead, and with the demise of Batman’s most iconic nemesis, the series introduces an all-new foe for the Caped Crusader to tussle with – one created specifically for the game. An interesting simulacrum of Batman himself, the Arkham Knight is sadly no Joker, his eventual unmasking not nearly as compelling as the other stories the game manages to tell. But with such a litany of other colourful criminals from Batman’s past on the roster, you’re unlikely to feel short-changed just because the title character lacks panache.

By this point, Rocksteady has essentially perfected the Batman formula and little has changed in terms of core gameplay, barring a slick refinement of existing mechanics. It still offers the most satisfying brawling available outside your local boozer, enhanced by new gadgets, combos and the addition of dual-play – scripted moments where the Bat teams up with a colleague-in-crime-fighting for some double-team takedowns. Evolution rather than revolution, but there are enough fresh new features to make the return still feel exciting.

Investigative work and puzzle solving are also back, with added nuance to prevent feeling like a retread. The gameplay’s only real weakness is the much-touted Batmobile, which proves a decidedly double-edged sword. When used to traverse the open world it’s a thrilling vehicle of freedom. However, it’s overuse in missions and forced vehicular combat soon become a tiresome distraction, one that fails to capitalise on the autonomy that makes the game so otherwise absorbing.

With its sprawling open world, Arkham Knight finds smart ways to structure its content, doling out developments as you progress so that attention never wavers. Rocksteady understands Batman, and with that knowledge it has once again delivered a title worthy of cape and cowl. Despite any minor quibbles, this is the definitive Dark Knight game experience and a fittingly triumphant finale to the Arkham canon.

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