Arkham Knight! Well, I'm not 100% finished it (more on that later when I bitch about the Riddler) but I've completed the story and all but one of the infamous "Gotham's Most Wanted". I'm going right to story here. What a HUGE improvement over the previous two games and that's saying a lot because their main stories were damn near flawless. My biggest issue with Asylum and City was how short they were and how little the Bat family played a role. Well, that was fixed and fixed in a big way. It was a wonderful conclusion to the Arkham games.
The game starts several months after the events of Arkham City (about nine) and Gotham is teetering on the edge. Nothing bad has happened, but that worries Jim Gordon more. When Scarecrow (voiced by John Noble of Lord of the Rings) makes his move it takes Gotham to its knees. Complete with his own army and an ally called the Arkham Knight, who seems to know everything about Batman, including his identity and the identity of the Bat family!) the game launches you quickly into both main story and side quests that are (with one exception *cough Riddler cough*) fun!
The big selling point of Arkham Knight was and is the Bat Mobile. Not the sleek car from Asylum, but something more akin to the tumbler from the Nolan trilogy. A monster vehicle and tank that is much a character in the game as Bats himself. Sometimes, a little too much.
During the course of your final outing, you'll play as Batman, Catwoman, Nightwing, Azrael, and Robin. You'll play as one more, but I won't spoil that surprise. The best part of playing as the Bat Family is the combined controls. You can switch back and forth from Batman to his sidekick throughout a fight using each other to perform takedowns and listen to Nightwing talk shit (totally worth it). At the moment when Batman and Robin join up to womp on Harley's goons you get an accolade that made my day. "Return of the Dynamic Duo."
What's my problem, you ask? The goddamn Riddler. Not fun. Not funny. Not interesting. Tedious, boring, bullshit. And this time, folks, this time, they make it mandatory to deal with his shit! They make one section of it part of the main storyline and you can't ignore it! And if you want to see the magnificient true "Knightfall Protocol" ending - you have to complete every Riddler challenge in the game. Some 400 of them. Do yourself a favor when you play, if you have my patience level for the Riddler, do the shit you need to and then youtube the rest. As I said before: "Riddler can eat a dick. Riddler can eat a bag of dicks. And so can the asshole who programmed his quests. Not riddles, not intelligence tests, not even puzzles. Fucking twitch-gaming reflex tests. " In what would be a 5/5 game for playability the Riddler garbage is bringing it down to a 3. I noted above the Batmobile was almost too much a character: It is relied on very heavily throughout the game to fight the Arkham Knight's militia and push through puzzles where you need mass brute force. Then in a couple of situation (i.e. a large tank and a large underground excavation machine) the Batmobile seems useless as these items actually KEEP UP WITH IT and in some cases are faster. Even with the booster. That, is, some bullshit. Overall the Batmobile might knock the score down to 2 if it wasn't so damn fun to play with.
Graphics this time out take full advantage of the One's capabilities. Just blows away Asylum and City. And there's so much more to see as you have access to a wider area of Gotham. At times they're almost photo-realistic. Just amazing.
Likewise the sound continues to be tops. Scaling music, more and better voice actors, musical clues that are part of the story. Voice really does make a game in a lot of ways. Sound and music are an important part of the experience, and the Arkham games have always reflected the best in this. Background conversations you pick up are just as cool. Thugs bragging. Militia trying to boost confidence. Some of it damn funny.
Militia 1: "There goes Batman"
Militia 2: "Aw, doesn't he want to fight? Where you going Batman?
Militia 1: "Stop that. You *don't* *taunt* the Batman."
That leaves us with Controls. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. They tried to fix it. Muddled up gadget selection but once you got used to it it was a good flow. The fighting, the predator abilities, the movement remain top-notch. Batman is all about his toys and his toys need to have the intuitive use that this game delivers.
So to summarize Batman Arkham Asylum:
Controls: 4/5 (I drop it one because they tried to redo City's control and gadget selection and it hurt them.
Graphics: 5/5 It could have been a news report and not just a game.
Sound: 5/5. When you play the serial killer quest you'll see what I mean and you'll thank me.
Story: 5/5. So. Much. Better. Better content (which was hard to do!) and longer content. Felt a lot better about buying this game in a Gamestop than I would have the other two.
Playability: 3/5: Great fun, great moments with the Batfamily. Riddler can eat a bag of dicks. Seriously, who the hell thought that crap was a good idea. I constantly wound up muting the insufferable prick when doing his quests.
On a side note: An awesome, awesome detail. As you completed quests and brought in the knight's militia, Two-Face and Penguin's goons, and the other dregs of Gotham (including said Two-Face and Penguin) the GCPD jail begins to fill up. Everytime you return to the GCPD there's more criminals there to taunt you and at the same time sigh in relief they're on the inside of a cage AWAY from Bats.
On a last note, and I won't come right out and say who he is, if you're a long-time Batman fan you realize pretty early on who the Arkham Knight is. A little different from comic continuity but damn awesome.
I'm likely going to torture myself and finish the damn Riddler trophies with the help of a cheat sheet just to get that 100%, but I have OCD.
In the meantime, so long, Gotham. Farewell rogue's gallery. Alfred, initiate Knightfall protocol. Let the other's know.