Let’s start this “review” with the positive – Batman: Arkham Knight is a solid action game. It meets the technical standards of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. That being said, Arkham Knight is the weakest of the trilogy and proof that not every game needs to be open world or include mobile transportation.
Batman Begins/Arkham Asylum
In order to understand Arkham Knight we must look to the Dark Knight trilogy. Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight trilogy is the story of Batman and his rise to becoming much more than just the savior of Gotham, but a symbol of hope and justice. The first movie, Batman Begins sets the tone for the series. We are introduced to a different Batman, one who trades some of his trademark agility for brute force. In the Dark Knight universe Batman’s costume becomes more like an armored suit opposed to the traditional outfit we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Arkham Asylum follows suit by introducing us to the virtual world of Batman. His suit is reflective of the times with a more armored look and can also trade stealth for brute force if the situation calls for it. Asylum sets the tone for Batman’s digital rise as a symbol for justice.
The Dark Knight/Arkham City
Like most trilogies, the second movie is usually touted as the best entry. The Dark Knight is considered the best of the movie trilogy and for some, the best Batman movie period. In order to achieve this the movie was produced on a grander scale. Gotham City was bigger along with more action and a larger cast of villains. It was time for Batman to grow up and with The Dark Knight, Batman owned the box office. On the Digital front Rocksteady followed in those footsteps, leaving the tight confines of the asylum and bringing us into the open world of Arkham City. However, this move completely changed the tone of the series. Any open world typically means a larger cast of characters and larger set pieces, but it also changes the tone of the game. There was a good storyline, but the way in which you experienced the story changed drastically. Now, instead of being taken on a linear adventure you could choose to follow the story or chase another villain in a side quest. That story might not be as fulfilling as the main story, but you have to fill an open world somehow. Akrham City made it fun for people to pretend to be Batman, but left those who came for a tight, linear story experience left behind. Of course this transition was popular with the mainstream and Arkham City becomes the most popular entry.
The Dark Knight Rises/Arkham Knight
And then we have The Dark Knight Rises. A movie that had the arduous task of topping The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight, while it was a good movie, never met the real expectations set forth by the previous film. The Dark Knight Rises suffered from pacing issues, lack of character development and a story that did not match the impact of The Dark Knight Rises. It was a lukewarm end to the trilogy. Arkham Knight continues the trend with a lukewarm ending to Batman’s trilogy. It wasn’t due to lack of an engaging story, but more so due to design choices that drew the player out of the traditional Batman experience into something else…something that isn’t quite Batman.