Anyone who has even a passing interest in DC comics AND videogames will be aware of how damn good Rocksteady Games’ Batman Arkham series is – we will skirt around Origins as it wasn’t a Rocksteady production and is somewhat flawed while still better than 90% of similar games on the last gen. When I first played Arkham Asylum I approached it with caution, as a gamer of some thirty years I know how badly some licenses have been handled over the years, but I had no reason to worry. Thanks to DC granting a ridiculous amount of freedom to Rocksteady to create their own canon we were left with a Batman v Joker storyline that would become the foundation of a great trilogy. Giant Mutant Joker aside it was a GREAT game, and was followed up by a sequel that offered more freedom and even more of an insight into Rocksteady’s universe. Frankly the game was great and while Origins may not have pushed the series further, it did offer a look at some key historical points in the Arkham Arc. Which brings us to Batman: Arkham Knight, which is easily the one game I am looking forward to more than anything else this year.
Forget for a moment that this is the final part in Rocksteady’s planned trilogy, forget that the previous games exist at all and just take it on face value:
Batman Arkham Knight picks up the story with a more mature Batman living in a new world since the passing of a super-villain. Scarecrow attacks Gotham and while this would usually be Batman’s time to shine but Scarecrow has enlisted the titular Arkham Knight himself. Mystery surrounds this character who seems to have roots in Azrael or the Red Hood but Rocksteady have gone on record to state that the Arkham Knight is a new character in the Batman universe. This is VERY exciting as we are going to witness the creation of a character that could potentially become part of the longer-term canon that the Arkham line has already established.
Throw into the mix the fact that we now – finally – have access to the Batmobile for something more than just a mobile supply drop AND the associated vehicular combat (with emphasis on the Bat, sorry..) and we are getting what could be the most rounded Batman game ever.
Now I adored the Batman movie tie-in game on the Amiga – even if the Joker chemical component parts drove me to despair – and Batman Returns on the Master System was almost glued in for six months so I know I will make allowances if the game isn’t quite up to scratch, but I really don’t have a single concern on that front. I want to encounter Scarecrow, Two-Face, Penguin, Arkham Knight and Harley (as well as the unannounced cameos/side quest characters), I want to be the bat at the top of his game and I really love the fact that this is the last in a trilogy. If the Dark Knight Trilogy was anything to go by (and that leaked info on the Amazon exclusive statue bundle) then we may not see Wayne make it until the titles.
Either way, this gameplay is enough, surely, to ensure that even the biggest doubters will be salivating gently at the prospect of what will happen when the game releases in June.