Arkham Knight was contentious at release and it’s still a hotly debated game among fans. As the fourth and final game in a critically acclaimed series, it had a lot to live up to. As someone finally playing it for the first time? I find that in some ways it's exceeding my expectations, and in other ways it’s not. No single scene illustrates the good and the bad more than Arkham Knight’s ambush in the tunnels below Gotham. This is going to involve spoilers- the plot kind, not Stephanie Brown sadly.
The scene starts with Batman sneaking into enemy territory only to be jumped by the mysterious Arkham Knight/Evil Robot Batman/Definitely-Not-Red-Hood. What follows is a long cutscene, which has become increasingly common in Knight. While the Knight comes off as being dangerously savvy of Batman’s strategic habits, he also ends up looking like kind of an idiot. Sneaking up on Batman is extremely difficult and the Knight shows that he knows where the weaknesses are in Batman’s armor, but in spite of his clear intent to kill he leaves Batman to his goons instead of, y’know… shooting him in the mouth. This comes off as a cheap deus ex.
Following this, we get a cool moment where one of the goons tries to kick Batman and the player gets to counter the kick, then fight off a whole room of thugs. It’s frantic and brutal, and the combat is swift and awesome. Rocksteady really tightened up the combat to its peak form.
This is followed closely by a tank embedding itself in a wall and trying to shoot at Batman while he sees a hallucination of the Joker mockingly goading him on. This is very comic book-y, but in a way that feels fitting and allows for an intense moment of conflict on multiple levels without stopping gameplay. The player is in full control here.
Finally, the scene caps off with the Batmobile. It’s everywhere in this game, forced into so many scenes. It begins to feel like Arkham Car after a while. Driving it feels smooth and remotely using it as a tank to blow up a bunch of other tanks to allow Batman to escape is actually pretty creative and satisfying, but it’s used so frequently that it becomes grating. It’s like Batman can’t do anything without his car in this game, and it starts to feel suspiciously like the entire scene only existed as an excuse to set up another Batmobile segment.
So overall I find the game to be ambitious, but deeply flawed. A shame in a sense, but also better than safe and uninspired I'd say.