Be the Bat. That’s what people want right? Be as tough and smart and sneaky and infinitely rich as Batman. The Arkham series of games has been built around this idea. For the most part, they’ve been successful: they let you punch wave after wave of goons, using gadgets and careful timing instead of brute strength. When the thugs have guns, you sneak around in grates and swing on gargoyles (even inside buildings, Gotham is weird) to take them out silently. Occasionally you do detective work to find out who to punch or take down next (this always gets less focus than the punching though).
Game publisher Rocksteady decided that we need one more element of Batmanning: driving the Batmobile. This is the conclusion of a trilogy (not counting the decent Origins prequel), and games tend to get bigger as the series go on. So now you have access to all of Gotham City, and you need another way to get around. The problem is that the Batmobile handles terribly. I think I caused more collateral damage driving through fences and street lamps than any super-villain. The car also converts into a tank to battle the invading militia forces, and that didn’t always go too well either. This version of Batman as controlled by me apparently is not a good driver. Guess he can’t actually be good at everything.
Batman’s mortality and flaws are actually the major theme of the game’s story. The previous game (read my last review here!) ended with the death of the Joker, and this game has Batman dealing with his ghost, in more ways than one. Thanks to a dose of Scarecrow’s fear toxin, Batman has to face his fears of turning into his arch-nemesis, as well as his own death and legacy. The other major threat is a new villain calling himself the Arkham Knight, who has a connection with Batman’s past and is pretty mad at him because of it. I figured out who he was way before Batman does. Take that, World’s Greatest Detective!
This definitely feels like a close to a mostly great series. The story wraps up pretty definitively, and gameplay-wise, they’ve gotten everything they can out of the formula (as good as it is). The first game, Arkham Asylum, is still my favorite despite the gameplay and graphical advances of the others. Seriously, if you haven’t seen what games look like on the newest consoles, take a look. Being Batman can be beautiful. Just don’t make me drive his stupid car.