As Warner Bros. gears up to launch its DC cinematic universe next year with Batman V Superman - introducing a new yet seasoned version of the Caped Crusader - Rocksteady Studios is preparing to bring its current iteration of the Caped Crusader's story to a close with Batman: Arkham Knight.
As the final installment in the video game company's hugely popular and critically acclaimed trilogy (Arkham Origins was not developed by Rocksteady), Arkham Knight promises to expand the size, scope, and complexity of Batman's computerized world for a truly satisfying and epic conclusion. See the latest trailer for the game above.
With the end officially set to begin June 23, reviews for the game have already surfaced. The main takeaway: Arkham Knight returns to familiar territory with overcooked storylines and themes (i.e. Batman as the troubled hero), but manages to succeed visually with superb production values, thrilling combat sequences, and an unmatched sense of freedom soaring above Gotham City as the Dark Knight.
Arkham Knight currently has a 91% on review aggregate site Metacritic, recovering from the less well-received Arkham Origins (74%) and returning to the former critical glory of Arkham Asylum (91%) and Arkham City (96%). For the reasons behind Arkham Knight's ratings, read on to find out what critics have had to say so far.
IGN - Dan Stapleton
The addition of tank combat thematically clashes with everything Batman stands for, but it is fun, and having access to the Batmobile for the first time gives us a new world of possibilities for interacting with Gotham City. 'Arkham Knight' is an outstanding game on almost every level.
Game Informer - Andrew Reiner
Rocksteady built a special experience that dazzles with its cleverness, intelligence, and ability to shift from kick-ass Batman moments to emotional gut punches to scenes stripped straight from some of Batman's greatest comic book stories. Lock yourself away, avoid social media and friends, and finish this game. You won't want this one spoiled for you.
Toronto Sun - Steve Tilley
'Batman: Arkham Knight' is a game that shows what can happen when a talented development studio is completely invested in a fictional universe and has mastered the technology to bring it to life. We’ve become the Batman before, but never quite like this.
GamesRadar - Sam Roberts
An ambitious and successful end to Rocksteady’s trilogy, with a standard-setting open world you must experience. A superior main story and less Batmobile combat would’ve made a huge difference.
GameSpot - Kevin VanOrd
Gotham is a dazzling playground where neon lights pierce through the rain and mist; all it takes is a single glimpse to tell you that this is a city in need. Moreover, many individual elements are so carefully constructed, and presented with such flair, that appreciation is the only reasonable reaction. Yet most of these elements--excellent acting, wonderful animations, moody soundtrack--are ones that Batman: Arkham City also excelled in, making Arkham Knight's missteps all the more noticeable.
AusGamers - Steve Farrelly
It’s the best-looking game across all three platforms (yes, even over The Witcher 3), but more importantly it just delivers in every aspect you could hope for. It’s challenging and engaging, expansive and enticing. Its game-world is wholly realised and gorgeous to look at, but above all else, it tells such an incredible story in so many new and unique ways, it’s impossible to ignore.
VideoGamer - Simon Miller
It's epic; it's grand; it's addictive; it's ridiculously good-looking and it's going to be remembered for a long time to come. A masterpiece.
A notable amount of the praise is directed, of course, at the game's visual complexity, gorgeous design, and sheer scale. But while Rocksteady continues to build upon the Arkham series' aesthetic, crafting a wholly realized world with layers and layers to be discovered, it seems to have fallen short in terms of adding new thematic layers - which makes sense, though, considering Arkham Knight is the fourth installment in the overall franchise. In fact, many review sites back in 2012 pointed out how Arkham City not only managed to raise the bar following Arkham Asylum, but also how it was so thorough in its depiction of the Batman universe that no sequel could possibly accomplish anything further.
That said, to set itself apart from its predecessors - and chart never-before-played territory - Arkham Knight allows gamers to play as new characters and operate the Batmobile, which can be used for transportation or combat. The game also expands Batman's arsenal of gadgets and combat attacks and offers a more open world structure, allowing the player to complete side missions away from the primary storyline.
In addition to the new features, Rocksteady originally planned to release a collector’s edition of Arkham Knight, which contained a scale replica of the Batmobile featured in the game. Despite the positive reviews, though - and despite preorders opening up last year - Warner Bros. has canceled the special edition. The company announced the cancellation in an official forum post on Wednesday of last week, blaming "unforeseen circumstances" with production.
We regret to inform you that we are not able to release the Batmobile Collector’s Edition of 'Batman: Arkham Knight' due to unforeseen circumstances that greatly compromised the quality of this extremely limited run of product.
On the bright said, refunds will be provided by retailers that accepted pre-order, and fans who purchase Arkham Knight will also receive the New 52 skin pack - including new skins of Nightwing, Robin, and Batman - free of charge.
Overall, while not everyone has hailed Batman: Arkham Knight as a masterpiece, many critics - and even celebrities - have regarded it as an exciting, engrossing, and comprehensive end to one of the most groundbreaking video game series of all time. And considering the hype and high expectations that usually overshadow final installments of any media franchise - whether in film, TV, or the video game genre - that in and of itself is an accomplishment.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the final installment in the Batman “Arkham” video game series, which began with Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and a prequel title, Batman: Arkham Origins. The series will bring its trademark style to the Batmobile for the first time ever, giving players the option to either grapple above the streets of Gotham or tear through them in the armored behemoth (but let’s be honest, they’ll go with the latter). The Scarecrow, who hasn’t been seen since Arkham Asylum, will ascend as the game’s primary villain, along with the mysterious new Arkham Knight character. Kevin Conroy will once again bring The Dark Knight to life as the voice of Batman.
Batman: Arkham Knight is slated for release on June 23rd, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.