Along with Derek, I also played Batman: Arkham Knight and for the most part I really enjoyed it. Loved the new additions to the game, it looks fantastic, and it’s written very well. But one particular story beat that frustrated many people came during the later part of the game, when it was finally revealed who the Arkham Knight was. I’m gonna assume that you have played the game to the end and know who the Arkham Knight is. (Spoilers)
For most it was an early first guess when the game was first shown off, you see a Batman-like figure with his skills and a desire to watch the bat die and your comic book geek mind goes to Jason Todd. Who went from the most hated Robin, to a compelling anti-hero. But after Rocksteady was asked if the Knight was indeed Robin number two, they denied it, insisting that it was an original character they made with the help of Warner Brothers. Fine, that sounded interesting.
Now when the game was released and I nestled in and started playing, I was hoping to be caught off guard with a compelling new villain for the Batman universe. As the game progressed, small nuggets emerged within the story that helped fuel theories.
First one was the reveal that a few Jokers had been made as a result of the clown prince sending his infected blood to a hospital during the last game. This felt like an interesting way to develop a heir to Joker, and perhaps create a new, perfect Joker. Kinda like in Metal Gear, Big Boss’s DNA creates Snake who is possibly better then Big Boss. Anyway, that introduction offered an new theory. Then came some flashbacks about Jason Todd, which brought me back to Todd. But Rocksteady said ORIGINAL CHARACTER so I pushed that aside and though of it as a reminder of what Bruce has done to those in the Bat family. But of course that moment came, and the helmet came off to reveal Mr.Todd. Instead of having a surprised reaction, I said to myself, “Oh…. Well ok.”
The thing that I found frustrating isn’t that the story was ultimately about the remnants of past mistakes haunting Bruce, (That is fantastic! Especially the Joker stuff.) It’s simply that Rocksteady promised an original character, and as I though about it Jason Todd as the Arkham Knight is a shallow reveal. The setup is just a few flashback scenes which seems so simple and kind of dumb. Elements about the Arkham Knight could have led to explanations of the character.
For one, how the hell could Jason Todd amass an entire army? Does he still have his Bat credit card to buy crap like that? Also all the tech he has, where did that come from? Also, Arkham Knight, why call yourself that?
These elements to the character could have been nuggets that would play into that character once revealed. If I was running the Arkham Knights creation (prep for some Monday morning quarterbacking here) it would make sense to me to bring it back to the name, Arkham. Since only some of the Arkham family was delved into, why not create a modern heir to the Arkham family. After the previous two games, where the Arkham name and prison were destroyed by the villains and Batman why wouldn’t the Arkham family despise him? They could have crafted a character like that or anything that feels more appropriate than simply shoehorning in the Red Hood story line from the comics.
All in all, I did like the game and would recommend it to people. But the fan in me gets a bit frustrated by these things, missed opportunities. The game in large part felt a bit like clean up. Assembled with parts they hadn’t used yet, like the Batmobile, entire Gotham city, Robin story line, the Killing Joke, and so on. As much as I noticed these things, Rocksteady managed to bring it all together into a final entry that I did ultimately enjoy. But if you asked someone who plays on PC, they probably hate Rocksteady for other reasons.
Batman: Arkham Knight was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.