PREVIEW: BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT
There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of comic book tie ins made video game players cringe in fear.
Up until Batman: Arkham Asylum made its debut, it is fair to say that the vast majority of superhero games failed to live up to even a fraction of their considerable hype, ensuring that gamers would remain skeptical of future projects. That all changed with Rocksteady Studio’s aforementioned Batman debut, though. By 2009 the Dark Knight had already established himself as a major player in mainstream media once again, with Christopher Nolan’s wonderfully crafted big screen adaptations going a long way to atoning for the, simply awful, handful of Batman movies that had come before it ( although we’re willing to concede that both the original Tim Burton Batman, and follow- up Batman Returns, were fine efforts, all things considered). With moviegoers now starting to come around to the fact that superhero flicks could actually be decent in the right hands, the stage was set for an ambitious development studio to change the lie of the land for the genre within the gaming industry, and that’s precisely what Rocksteady did. Right from the first look it was abundantly clear that Arkham Asylum was totally different to the majority of superhero games that had come before it. There was a real sense that care and attention had been paid to every facet of the game’s creation. Established Batman voice actors like Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill were drafted in to reprise their roles as the Dark Knight and Joker, respectively, from the franchise’s much- loved animated efforts, and the game’s plot and script were as much about fan service as anything else. Given the complete dearth of decent Batman games up to that point, Asylum proved to be an unfathomable success. The game deservedly scooped countless game of the year awards, and remains a constant in top 10 lists ever since, leading to an even better received follow up in 2011, Arkham City. A third game in the series, the least well received of the bunch, Arkham Origins, wasn’t actually handled by Rocksteady, instead being farmed out to the fledgling Warner Bros. Games Montreal, allowing the studio to focus on the culminating part in the Arkham series; a game that promised to be bigger, better and more ambitious than anything the series had seen to date. That game is Batman: Arkham Knight, and its arrival is creeping slowly up on us, having originally falling foul of the dreaded prerelease delay earlier this year. Arkham Knight has been built from the ground up for next gen systems. With no PS3 or Xbox 360 versions officially planned, it means that developers have been free to eke out every last drop of power from the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, while PC gamers can most likely look forward to the most graphically capable version of the three - as usual.
The game takes place a year or so