The dismantling of the Cape & Cowl: Arkham Knight

ArkhamSo as of last night, I wrapped up the main story arc of Arkham Knight after three days of intense gameplay that more or less destroyed my sleep cycle for the coming weeks. Gamer insomnia is actually a thing and for the past one week Arkham Knight has more or less taken over my life, dulling my social skills to a negative 100 and making sure I remained hooked right till the end. I’ve even had dreams of the bloody thing, long after my head has collapsed onto my pillow. In fact, just the other night, I paused the game to glance at my watch only to horrifyingly realise it was half past four in the morning. I’d been on a six hour binge without realising it.

Now that it’s over, I can talk about it. Did my undivided attention to the game mean that I enjoyed it immensely? Yes and no.

For those unfamiliar with the Arkham timeline, Arkham Knight is the third instalment in Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy(Without counting Arkham Origins). Arkham Asylum was the first, followed by Arkham City and now this. All three exceptional pieces of work, with Arkham City having probably the best Batman story to be told on any screen since 2008.

Oh also, Massive Spoiler Alert.

Getting back to this, I enjoyed a lot of the things Arkham Knight threw at me. Straight off the bat(No pun intended there) I really liked just how dark this was turning out to be in my first twenty minutes in. From the in-game menu to the tonality of the entire game, there’s a sense of finality that prevails throughout. It’s deliciously macabre, more than any Bat story I’ve seen in a while, barring the brilliant Dark Knight Returns.

Things have been relatively quiet in the city of Gotham since the events of Arkham City that saw the death of the Clown Prince of Crime(An unforgettable sight of the lifeless Joker being carried out by Batman) and the city seems to be slowly limping back to life.

But this isn’t any other city, it’s Gotham. It was built to be torn down.

Soon enough, Scarecrow(Brilliantly played by John Noble who most of us will know as Denethor, The Steward of Gondor) threatens to unleash havoc on the city, causing the inhabitants to flee the city in a matter of days. Soon Gotham is crawling only with gangs led by the infamous notorious crime-lords we’ve all known to grow and love and of course, the Batman.  There’s also a new villain in town, known only as the Arkham Knight, a military trained assassin with a personal vendetta against The Bat. The Arkham Knight commands a highly efficient army at his disposal and knows all of Batman’s tactics, more often than not forcing you to improvise and adapt to situations.

No prizes for guessing who's under that mask.
No prizes for guessing who’s under that mask.

My problems with the character in general are quite a bit. We were all told that a new character was being developed for this game, someone we’d never met before. If you adore Batman the way I do or even have the slightest bit of knowledge about the Bat-verse, ten minutes into the game you’re pretty damn sure who the Arkham Knight is. Anything and everything he says has you rolling your eyes in disbelief. The secret almost starts slapping you in the face, the moment the game takes a  flashback to the Jason Todd story arc. At this point, you’re torn; Death in the Family is one of the most iconic Batman comics and any sort of visual representation is more than welcome. At the same time, it leaves you feeling a bit meh. Honestly, if it were called Batman: Return of the Red Hood, we’d have all been happy.

What I really liked was how they incorporated the Joker into the game. It’s really hard to bring back a dead character convincingly, and here they do it really well. When he first appeared in the game, I dropped my controller in shock. Post his introduction, he is in nearly every frame, a representation of the disintegration of The Dark Knight’s psyche and it is an absolute delight to experience. The way they conclude it seems like a bit of a cop-out cause there’s so much one could do with this situation. Batman’s got Joker blood running through him and is turning into the Joker(No idea how that works). Yet nowhere in the game do we get to see Joker take complete control barring a really small cut-scene with Scarecrow midway through the game. It seems like a chance not taken, something that would take the game from great to sheer brilliance.

Another thing that really had me polarised was something I’d wanted to use for the longest time; The Batmobile. I kid you not, the moment it came flying across my screen I was almost crying from the overwhelming nostalgia and emotion. The Batmobile handles slightly better than your average GTA V car, and possesses the kind of weaponry that would make most countries turn green in envy. And for the first couple of hours, it is an absolute delight. Then rocksteady decides to push it further down our throats, replacing one-on-one encounters with mindless drone bashing. It’s not like it’s not fun, but it gets extremely repetitive. I’d rather go toe to toe with Batman’s arch-enemies rather than fire missiles from one extremely well armoured tank to another.

All that aside, Arkham Knight is still a befitting conclusion to the Arkham series. It’s got it’s problems but it’s still a great experience if you’re a fan of the caped crusader. Personally, I’d wish they’d focussed more on the story rather than unnecessary drone battles but it might just be me.

There are two endings to this game; One that concludes the main story arc of the game. The second, the ambiguously heart-breaking Knightfall Protocol. Not going to lie, got me a little teary-eyed.

Personally, all I can do is thank WB Games and Rocksteady for putting in countless hours to bring us these spectacular titles. It’s been such a ride with people who actually get Batman for the flawed, troubled hero he is.

I’m pretty damn sure that I speak for most Bat fans out there when I say-

Thanks guys. Thank you for letting me,

Be the Batman.

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