[editor's note: Arkham Knight is the fourth, not third, installment of the Batman Arkham series. Thanks commenter Gyro for the correction.]
The bat is back for his third installment in the Arkham series with Batman: Arkham Knight, and it looks to be more of all the glorious same that made Arkham Asylum and Arkham City a thrill to play. Let’s take a look at the return of Scarecrow and what wonderful toys Wayne Enterprises has for us this time.
So yeah, Scarecrow is the apparent big bad this time and has taken over the Ace Chemical Factory in order to release enough of his fear toxin to cover the entire east coast. Aiding him in his endeavor is the titular mysterious Arkham Knight, a guy in full techno body armor with a major vendetta against Batman…as if the entire criminal underground didn’t have one of those already.
When the bridge into the chemical factory gets blown up we were shown that the Batmobile is not only present for the game but features heavily into the game play, sort of like a machine gun-mounted Epona complete with “anywhere, anytime” outdoor summoning capabilities. After launching a grappling hook into the rubble of the bridge, the Batmobile went into reverse, pulled the road up into a makeshift ramp, rocket-boosted across the gap, and then for a dose of high-speed adrenaline one sees only this side of a good Sonic game launched Batman out of the cockpit right into the stratosphere for him to glide to a tactical vantage point. Just watching all of that happen was tons of fun; one can only imagine how it will feel to play.
Combat will be familiar to anyone who’s played the other entries in the series with a few fun bonuses. If you can catch a group of baddies by surprise, you can launch into a series of “fear takedowns” where you rapidly knock them out one after the other for a no muss no fuss encounter. Should a surprise attack be impossible (or bungled), different environments will have various set pieces that can be used in combat, such as smashing a thug into a fuse box or cutting a lamp to drop on the head of another for some dramatic knockouts.
For extra fun, the Batmobile can be used for combat shenanigans. There are some expected bits where you drive around shooting up tanks and other robotics that get in your way, but it’s the melee combat where things get really interesting. If you know where a group of thugs are, the Batmobile can launch you across the map (within reason) to get a high-powered drop on them that’s pretty much guaranteed to knock out the first baddie you land out. Alternatively, if the Batmobile is nearby it can create a distraction by firing on your assailants, at which point Bats can launch anyone he’s fighting with up into the air for the Batmobile to automatically take out with a well-aimed riot suppressor shot.
Dreamworks’ Megamind comes to mind after watching this demo. When combating Tighten in the movie’s climax, Megamind asks him if he knows the difference between a villain and a super villain. The answer? Presentation. It would seem that the same holds true for heroes as well as Batman: Arkham Knight is filled with so much presentation and style that there is no question that this game will be anything but super.