Scarecrow was the star of the show in Arkham Asylum, with him initiating some of the most memorable sequences in the entire game. Many were disappointed that he was absent from Arkham City, but when it was announced that he would be the main antagonist of Arkham Knight, the rumor mill began spinning in regards to how the villain and his Fear Gas could be utilized in the open-world of Gotham.
But while predicted scenarios such as Scarecrow flooding the streets with the toxin do come to fruition, I often found the results to be disappointing and, aside from it enabling the Joker to steadily creep into Batman's consciousness (which could just have easily been caused by the deceased Clown Prince of Crime's blood being fused with that of the Caped Crusader's), we don't see enough of those awesome set-pieces that made every segment featuring the Scarecrow in the first game so compelling.
When the streets of Gotham are filled with Fear Gas, you're simply forced back into your Batmobile in order to avoid becoming infected, transforming a potential highlight of the entire game into yet another tedious session of shooting down drones and unmanned vehicles. Likewise, while voice actor John Noble's performance as Scarecrow is perfectly creepy, the time Batman spends interacting with him outside of the game's closing moments pale in comparison to the time he spends with the vastly less interesting Arkham Knight.
In short, while the time Batman spends with Joker in Arkham Knight is certainly an interesting spin, I feel that the game could've done with a more tangible threat looming around each corner. That threat should have been Scarecrow, but was instead bratty Jason Todd and his silly tanks.
Okay, so the Batmobile doesn't actually kill anybody; the vehicles that you destroy using it are all unmanned, and when it's firing at baddies who are attacking you on-foot it shoots out rubber bullets. However, the vehicle causes so much destruction that it doesn't feel much like the Batmobile at all, but rather a military tank that just so happens to be occupied by a man dressed up as a bat.
In most scenarios throughout the Batman comics, films and animated series the Batmobile is predominantly used as a means to an end, yet it makes up over a third of the Arkham Knight's gameplay. That is because it is implemented in a manner that is at odds with how Batman has used it in the past, where he mainly implements it into his vast arsenal of toys if he wants to swiftly escape from an enemy or apprehend them.
There are a few chase scenes in Arkham Knight which feel pleasantly familiar to playing a Burnout game, and it is these segments that should have made up the bulk of the Batmobile gameplay. Instead, we get a never-ending parade of mundane vehicular combat, in which you make the Batmobile strafe from side-to-side whilst shooting out rockets at enemies. It's mind-numbing, and brings the momentum of the game's story to a grinding halt whenever one of them rears their ugly head.
Such was my intense hatred of the Batmobile as Arkham Knight wore on that when it was destroyed in a mission nearing the end of the game I let out a little "whoop" of joy, before Lucius Fox informs Batman that he has a "spare" ready, and I was back to shooting tanks again. The nightmare never ends.
The story arch involving the supposed death of Jason Todd and then his shocking reemergence as Red Hood is one of the most famous in Batman history, and when the Arkham Knight character was first revealed fingers immediately pointed to the former Robin as the man behind the mask. While there's no problem with Rocksteady going with the obvious choice, throughout the entirety of the game there is no suggestion that the Arkham Knight is anyone else but Todd, making the wait until his eventual reveal almost unbearable.
The problem with the "big reveal" is that it happens so late into the game that even those who aren't aware of the story in the comics would've probably already guessed it, given the unnecessary clues Rocksteady frequently drop. While the reveal could have happened earlier in the game and therefore led to more focus being put on the psychological damage it inflicts on Batman, as was the case in the comics, instead Rocksteady decided to drop it in right at the end when Batman has bigger things to focus upon, thus drastically reducing the impact it has on the game's narrative.
If that wasn't irritating enough, there's also no satisfying resolution to this particular plot thread. Upon discovering that the Arkham Knight is Jason Todd, Batman informs Alfred, only for Todd to use this distraction to make his escape. Todd then only shows up again to help out Batman after he's been unmasked by Scarecrow as Bruce Wayne, without saying a word, before disappearing into the night once again. Considering that this is the final chapter in the Arkham trilogy, and that the game's title was the character's name, I expected a lot more from the Arkham Knight and was left majorly disappointed.
Oh God, where do I begin? Without a doubt the very worst parts of Arkham Knight are the ludicrous Cobra Tank sections, which see you playing hide 'n' seek with the Batmobile.
With boss battles being more or less entirely absent from Arkham Knight save for the vehicular encounters with the game's titular villain, Rocksteady instead decided to thrust Batman into an encounter with a handful of Cobra Tanks every now and again, in a series of missions that has the player weaving in and out of narrow roads and trying not to be spotted by these giant tanks, who can destroy the Batmobile with a couple of hits.
The objective is to take them down from behind, but in later missions there are so many circling your position simultaneously that they can go on for as long as 20-30 minutes. One particularly grueling Cobra Tank missions sees you being asked to take down a bunch of the vehicles before being confronted by the Arkham Knight in his own souped-up version of one of them, which you must hit a set number of times before you can progress. They're the antithesis to fun, and did nothing but reinforce my disdain for the Batmobile.
Arkham Asylum rewrote the rule book for hand-to-hand combat in third-person action/adventure games, and while Arkham Knight is certainly a lot of fun in this department, the whole fighting system feels more watered down than it did in previous iterations in the series.
Whereas Asylum and City incorporated a feeling of progression when it came to learning new moves and combos, Arkham Knight throws you in at the deep end and then introduces new moves by way of a flashing on-screen indicator, with pops up without warning.
While the Arkham series' fighting mechanics have never been particularly complex, which is certainly part of their appeal, in Arkham Knight they feel diluted to the point where you don't feel as powerful as you did in the previous games, which had you slowly becoming acclimated to everything that Batman could do, and there feels like less room for creativity in the way you approach combat.
Arkham Knight's tagline was "Be the Batman," but I cannot imagine the Dark Knight ever agreeing to engage in a checkpoint-to-checkpoint race in order to satisfy The Riddler. Yet that's what Arkham Knight asks the player to do, and while these challenges aren't plentiful, they're tedious and - like most of the Batmobile sections - completely incongruous with the rest of the game.
Batman would not agree to take part in a ludicrous underground race, and The Riddler certainly wouldn't deem a mini-game an acceptable display of his intellect. While these racing sections weren't hugely problematic in comparison with Arkham Knight's other flaws, they did directly challenge the game's philosophy of making the player feel like Batman by making them do something that Batman wouldn't do in a million years.
Unlike in Arkham Asylum and City, the various villains of Batman's extensive Rogues Gallery rarely make an appearance in the main story of Arkham Knight, with their contributions being relegated to side-missions. One of the biggest selling points of the old Arkham games was the amount of fan service stuffed into them, and while this is still kind of the case with Arkham Knight, you'll have to wander off the beaten path in order to truly spend some time with Penguin, Two-Face & co. that isn't limited to very minor appearances.
While Two-Face's character is fleshed out somewhat in his particular side-mission, the rest of the Rogues Gallery feel less vital to the overarching plot of Arkham Knight than they did in previous Arkham games. That would be fine in and of itself, if it wasn't for how a few of them - notably the female characters - are treated. Catwoman, who was a pretty big deal in Arkham City, adopts a damsel in distress role in Arkham Knight, being held captive by the Riddler with Batman being tasked with saving her, while Poison Ivy must be saved a number of times before she dies in Batman's arms.
Simply put, the villains aren't as much fun to encounter in Arkham Knight, and while it's enjoyable to see a few of the more obscure antagonists being inserted into the game, there's less for Bat-fans to be excited about this time around.
While the console version of Arkham Knight had a few technical problems (and as I previously noted, I seemed to have encountered them all), the PC version was a broken mess that led to the game's Steam page being bombarded with negative user reviews.
Such was the heinously low quality of the game that Warner Bros. made the unprecedented decision to remove it from sale until it was fixed, but not before many made good on Steam's new refund rule.
The negative backlash surrounding the PC port, accompanied by the allegations that Warner Bros. knew of its myriad of problems months before its release date yet decided to ship it anyway, put a dampener on the release of the concluding chapter of the Arkham trilogy.