The hotly anticipated Batman: Arkham Knight is out now, and players once again have the chance to don the cape and cowl and take down Gotham City’s rogues gallery of super villains. The final game in Rocksteady Studios’ acclaimed trilogy is the first on the new generation of console hardware, and it definitely shows: Gotham is five times bigger than 2011’s Arkham City, and the Bat has never looked better.
I’ve stalked the streets of Gotham for a good 15 hours and am about 90 percent through the main campaign, but I want to play through more of the game’s many side missions, so I’m not quite ready to post a review. But I can say that fans of the series are in for a treat, as Arkham Knight is living up to its predecessors’ sky-high expectations. In the meantime, here are five cool new things Batman can do in the game.
1. Drive the Batmobile
By far the biggest addition is the Batmobile, and it fundamentally changes the way you play. Getting from one side of the map to the other has never been easier. Not only can you race through the streets in high-speed chases, but you can also transform it into a tank at the pull of a trigger to battle the Arkham Knight’s seemingly endless supply of drones. Batman can summon the Batmobile at the press of a button, or control it remotely to aid him in combat and even help solve environmental puzzles. Those who prefer the skies needn’t fret, as you can launch Batman into the air from the cockpit and immediately start gliding through the night. My 1989 Ford Tempo didn’t even have a remote door lock.
2. Scare foes into submission
Batman’s always been a little intense and scary, and a new move called the Fear Takedown really reinforces that. Performing silent takedowns fills his Fear meter, and once charged, Batman can sneak behind a small group of enemies and eliminate them in rapid succession. When you strike the first enemy, the game enters slow motion as the baddies scream in terror before quickly being silenced by the Dark Knight’s fists and feet. It’s particularly great for taking out a group of armed thugs without getting shot.
3. Team up with friends
What’s better than beating the crap out of Gotham City’s criminals? Doing it with a friend. Certain parts of the game see Batman teaming up with Catwoman, Robin or the guy who used to be Robin for Royal Rumble-style brawls. The new hardware allows more enemies on screen than ever before, and things quickly get hectic, but you always feel firmly in control. Pressing a button lets you switch characters at any time, which is a cool way to show off the characters’ slightly different move sets. Most impressive are the tag-team style dual takedowns, where Batman and a friend take out a foe with a spectacularly painful looking finishing move.
4. Use the environment in battle
For the first time, if Batman sees something useful lying around (highlighted in a blue tint), he’s able to use it in combat. Surrounded by a group of thugs who are standing under a light? Why not drop that light on their heads? Stop that jerk from tasing you with a cattle prod, pick it up, and tase him right back. Or pick up a baseball bat and hit a home run on some thug’s head. Who needs a utility belt full of gadgets when there’s so much useful stuff just lying around?
5. Use his brain
Many of these new features showcase how Batman has gotten better at hitting things harder, but he is known as “the World’s Greatest Detective” for a reason, and you’ll actually have to use your brain to solve some of the game’s devious puzzles. The game holds your hand a lot less, forcing you to use logic and deduction to hunt clues and solve crimes. Newcomers to the series will be scratching their heads at some of the Riddler challenges. A word of advice when stumped on a puzzle: Scan your environment for clues, try out all your gadgets, and generally think WWBD (What Would Batman Do). And if all else fails, try shooting things with your tank. Because sometimes violence is the answer.