Video gamers everywhere are giddy with excitement this week, as DC Comics, Warner Bros. and Rocksteady Studios once again take over the world of gaming consoles with the release of Batman: Arkham Knight, the much-anticipated fourth installment to the Batman: Arkham game series.
After the milestone first installment (Batman: Arkham Asylum), a reasonably well-received sequel (Batman: Arkham City) and a somewhat divisive prequel (Batman: Arkham Origins) - which was developed by a Warner Bros. internally - Arkham Knight arrives on next-gen consoles (Xbox One and Playstation 4) with the Rocksteady name back on the cover, and some massive expectations to meet. With so much to prove, the game developers have put out a final "Launch Day" trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight, to fan the hype of its release on Tuesday, June 23rd. Watch it above.
The storyline for Arkham Knight picks up a year after Batman defeated Ra's al Ghul, Joker, and various villains in his rogues gallery - a battle that left The Joker dead, a victim of the same titan formula he used on himself during the original Arkham Asylum game. In Arkham Knight, Batman is still trying to adjust to a life without The Joker when Gotham suddenly falls under the control of Scarecrow, who has hidden fear gas bombs in various locales, forcing citizens to flee. With the streets overrun by villains like Scarecrow, Two-Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn, Firefly, Man-Bat, Poison Ivy and their henchman / creatures, it's on Batman to launch all-out war in order to take back Gotham, one section at a time. However, in the midst of the battle, a mysterious - and lethally violent - armored vigilante called The Arkham Knight decides to debut, making an already tough night for Batman, that much worse.
As the voice-over narrator in the trailer ominously teases, "This is how it happened. This is how the Batman died." Of course, we don't expect the Batman to actually die (thought it's not out of the question) - but even if he does, there's no shortage of backup heroes to finish the fight. Batman sidekicks and associates like Robin, Nightwing, Azrael, Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, Alfred and Lucius Fox are all in the cast of characters - some providing action and gameplay (Robin, Nightwing), while others provide tactical support (Barbara, Alfred) - so together, they are potentially a Batman, Inc. force that could carry the game to conclusion, with or without Batman.
Having Batman truly die in the game would be a big twist - but even without it, there's still the central mystery of who is under the mask of The Arkham Knight, a character created for the game by DC Comics creative chief Geoff Johns and comic artist, Jim Lee. Will it be like the famous "Red Hood" mystery from Batman comics? Or could it be a sneaky way for Mark Hamill's Joker and Kevin Conroy's Batman to have one last fun interaction before the iconic voice actors move on? We shall see.
In addition to a bigger cast of characters, the setting of the game will also be much more massive. Thanks to next-gen console tech, Arkham Knight will boast an open-world setup that's approximately five times bigger than what Arkham City offered fans, with five times as many enemies onscreen at any time (imagine riot sequences with fifty baddies onscreen!), and vehicles like The Batmobile now part of the gameplay, instead of being reserved for cut sequences of travel between city sections. In short, this is the sort of epic, grand-scale, next-gen upgrade that should vastly separate Arkham Knight from the false "upgrades" and plateaued creativity of Arkham Origins. So far, the excellent reviews of Batman: Arkham Knight suggest that DC, WB and Rocksteady have certainly delivered on par with (if not above) fan expectations.
If early reviews are accurate, fans should have a satisfying way to sate their Dark Knight fix until Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters next spring. And if you are a superhero fan who has NOT yet made the jump to next-gen gaming, you now have some strong motivation to do so.
Batman: Arkham Knight will hit Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows on June 23, 2015. You can pre-order the game HERE.