Content of the article: "The combat in the Arkham series has way more depth than I remember"
Epic games gave out the Arkham trilogy a while back so I figured it would be a great time to play it again and also play Arkham origins, which I hadn't played before. When I played these games before I mostly used my upgrade points for stealth and armor upgrades, but this time I played through Asylum and City, I decided to prioritize upgrading the combat takedowns. Upgrading the takedowns first made the combat so much more enjoyable.
There's this dunkey video where he shows off Arkham City and claims that you can just spam the counter button until all the enemies are KOed. While he's objectively wrong, I understand the sentiment since you can kinda cheese most of the combat encounters in the first two games just by spamming punches and countering when necessary. City adds a few enemy types that can't be countered unless you disarm them, and Knight adds quite a few that can't be countered at all so there's definitely a lot more strategy required as the series goes on, but more on that later.
However, in Asylum you can unlock a combat takedown, which I didn't even realize was a thing until I played the game again for the first time in years. These takedowns let you press a button combination to instantly KO any enemy during combat. You'd think this would make the game so much easier, but it really changes the way you play. To get a takedown, you must execute a combo of 8 hits without being interrupted by an enemy. Most combat encounters aren't that hard in the first 2 games, but getting 8 hits in without getting hurt is actually pretty challenging. I actually had to pay attention to enemies' positioning and animations. I found myself using the stun and dodge quite a bit more, too.
There's another ability called critical strike that gives you extra damage if you press the attack button right when Batman hits the enemy. Like the takedowns, this ability only activates when you get a combo x8, so you also have to be careful not to get hit.
Arkham City expands on the takedowns by giving you a multi-enemy takedown that KOes any enemies on the ground if you have x8 combo. There's also a combo disarm where you can destroy enemies' guns so they can't shoot you and interrupt your combo. There's another ability where you can instantly KO enemies with knives if you time your dodges perfectly. Finally it adds a freeflow boost that gives you movement speed and even more bonus damage if you have a combo of 12x, but using a takedown ends it until you get 12 more hits.
Arkham Knight feels like the ultimate version of this combat system. First off, you can unlock upgrades to use some of your bat-gadgets in combat. You can shoot your batclaw mid-combo and pull a guy directly into your fist for an instant KO. You can use the electric gun, ice bombs, and explosive gel to stun/freeze/knockdown multiple enemies at once.
All the combat gadgets and takedowns require you to have 8x combo to execute, upgradable to 5x combo. Instead of focusing on just staying alive, I was forced to play perfectly, timing my dodges and hits, actually paying attention to stun times and enemy positioning. You also need to keep track of the different enemy types. Some enemies have shields and you have to jump over them, some have electric batons and will shock you if you don't hit them from behind, some have guns and can hurt you from far away, some guys can revive KOed enemies. Whenever I got a combo going, I'd try to prioritize using my takedowns to remove the most difficult enemy types first. Some enemies will pick up guns and shields dropped by their allies, so you still have to be on your toes.
I particularly like the armored and heavy enemies because you have to stun them and do a stun takedown on them. The stun takedown has batman doing like 20 punches in quick succession and it's super satisfying to pull off. It fills up your combat meter, letting you do takedowns, but it can be interrupted easily since it's so long. I often found myself stunning a heavy, landing a few hits, countering a guy who tried to sneak up behind me, then going right back to the stunned guy to throw 20 more punches at him.
Keeping my combo in mind really changes the way I played this game. I used to ignore the combat challenges, but it's actually a lot of fun to try to chain together a perfect combo with a variety of takedowns and get a high score. In arkham knight some of the upgrade points are earned by completing these challenges with 3 stars, and trust me it's not easy. I hate to say it, but you really feel like Batman, this master of every martial art with inhuman reaction time and an arsenal of gadgets at his disposal to incapacitate enemies.
- Just rolled credits on Arkham Knight
- The Batman Arkham Series is Utterly Phenomenal
- The combat in this game is incredible. It is now my favorite combat system out of any game.
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