Joey Sack, ’17, Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Rocksteady Studios and WB Games sure know how to sugar-coat bad news; in a statement released this past Monday, Sefton Hill, the director of Batman: Arkham Knight, announced that the concluding chapter of the Arkham series would be delayed again, this time from June 2nd until June 23rd. And by sugar coating bad news, we are, of course, referring to a new gameplay trailer that was released alongside the statement. The trailer, called “Officer Down,” gives us a better look at the Freeflow combat of Arkham Knight and shows us that, for a city that is mostly abandoned, Gotham comes alive with thugs running around, police trying to keep the peace, and, of course, the Caped Crusader trying to save the city he loves. We’ll get to our thoughts on the delay soon enough, but for now, let’s take a look at this trailer, because it definitely, as Sefton Hill puts it, makes the wait for Arkham Knight “even more unbearable.”
The gameplay footage, captured directly from the PlayStation 4, opens with Batman meeting with Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon to see if there are any leads as to the whereabouts of Scarecrow, before Batman flies off to pursue his own leads and rescue a police officer. Commissioner Gordon’s voice actor, from the sound of it, is a different voice actor than the previous Arkham games, and he sounds like a more tough and tired police chief nearing the end of his career. Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, still maintains his status as the best Batman voice ever; his voice for the Caped Crusader sounds more gruff and tough this time around, like a Batman who doesn’t have time for nonsense or any obstacles in his way, something that also shows itself during his interrogation of one of Scarecrow’s henchmen. This side of Batman is akin to his personality and outlook during Arkham Origins, and is definitely influenced by his experiences during Arkham City, so it will be interesting to see how his demeanor changes over the course of the game. Gotham looks great on the PlayStation 4; looters and other criminals flee in fear at the sight of the Batmobile, lights from buildings bring Batman’s home city to life in eerie light on the dark and stormy night of Halloween on which the game takes place, and the rain reacts realistically with Batman and the world around him.
The gliding and combat have all been updated slightly, and, for the first time, we see Batman use an enemy weapon (in this case, fittingly, a bat) to beat up criminals. Combat still looks like a ton of fun, and features a fairly detailed breakdown of how you did afterwards. The controls all look pretty much the same, though alterations have been made to accommodate the Batmobile; on the PlayStation 4, you press L1 to summon the Batmobile, which used to be the button you used to throw Batarangs. It does make you wonder how the rest of the controls have been tweaked; we know that Batman can deploy some gadgets, like the line launcher, midflight, but what button combination is needed for that? And what about Detective Mode? We see Batman enter it briefly to analyze a vial of Scarecrow’s fear toxin, but we don’t know what button to press. Obviously, we won’t find out until people sit down to play the game themselves. Sefton Hill was correct in his statement: this does make the wait for Arkham Knight even more unbearable; even though it’s delayed by only another three weeks, it may feel like the longest three weeks to fans of this beloved game series.
Now, to address the elephant in the room (or, in this case, the T-Rex in the Batcave): this trailer came with a bit of a catch; Batman: Arkham Knight, which was first scheduled for release on October 14th, 2014, only to be delayed until June 2nd of this year, is now being delayed one more time, not by eight months, thankfully, but by three weeks, to June 23rd. Now, that is a little alarming, since it means that gamers will have to wait even longer for Arkham Knight, but there is another, less obvious reason for gamers to be wary; there was another game that was delayed by only a few weeks this past year: Ubisoft’s admitted blunder, Assassin’s Creed Unity. Could Arkham Knight be turning into another Unity? It seems unlikely, since it’s still far enough in advance for the team at Rocksteady to work out any kinks in the game before the launch date, but it was roughly three months before launch that Ubisoft announced the delay of Unity by only a few weeks. However, one must keep in mind that Arkham Knight is a game that Rocksteady has been spending several years working on, so the delay is likely to work on the finishing touches. As they have stated before, they want to bring gamers the ultimate Batman gaming experience and end their acclaimed Arkham series on a high note; three more weeks to do that should not concern gamers, given this studio’s track record. We’ll just have to wait with cautious optimism until June 23rd rolls around.
Batman: Arkham Knight comes to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows June 23rd. Players can preorder the game to play as Harley Quinn. Just hold out a little while longer to become the Batman.