Hi, it’s been a while since we did our last tour of a game’s world, hasn’t it? Last time we were here, we visited Gotham City from “Gotham Knights,” which you can check out here alongside our review of the game. I thought, what better way to return to the series from where we left off and take a tour of another version of Gotham City? I will not be making any comparisons here, and I leave it up to you to decide which Gotham suits you best. Personally, I love both of them equally, as one is more grounded and feels realistic, while the other is the perfect embodiment of the comic book version. As I said, I love both of them. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Rocksteady Studios released “Arkham Asylum” in 2009 to smashing success. The game was set in the confines of the infamous Arkham Asylum and was an action beat-’em-up that had Metroidvania elements sprinkled all over when it came to exploration. Then came “Arkham City,” a true open-world game for the series that continued the story, but no, it didn’t take place in Gotham City, but in a walled-off and flooded section of the city called Arkham City that they turned into a prison. For a lot of people, including myself, this is the best game in the “Arkham” trilogy and gave us a small, compact, and dense open world that was fun to explore. But we can go a bit bigger now, can’t we? “Arkham Knight” did just that and gave us a full-blown area of Gotham City to explore and drive the Batmobile in. This game was a massive improvement over the last two, in terms of everything from visuals to gameplay to the options we had, and lucky for you, we have a review for all three games that you can check out and see how the series evolved with each entry. We are not here to talk about the game itself but about the world of the game, so let’s do just that.
For starters, this is the first time Rocksteady went full open-world and gave us their version of Gotham City, which was split into three islands. Just to be clear, they chose this part of Gotham, which acts as “Old Gotham,” as these three islands are the oldest parrots of the city and are now nestled between the entire city of Gotham, the area we can see but can’t go to or explore. If I can describe their version of Gotham City in one word, then the word would be artistic. I have never seen a city built and designed like this in any game I have ever played. Period. Is it all good, then? From a gameplay and visual perspective, yes, very much so, but if you start to put some logic behind it, you’ll notice that the entire city is designed like an amusement park ride and not like an actual city. This freedom and choice work as a strength for the game’s world and not as a detriment, and it shows how talented the designers at Rocksteady are and how the “fun trumps logic” mentality is always one to go by. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three islands of Rocksteady’s Gotham City, and while you should avoid Gotham at all costs, this version is one where you should immediately pack your bags and visit.
First up, we have Bleake Island, and the first major sight you’ll see here is the GCPD Headquarters. Commissioner Gordon keeps a watchful eye over the city from the HQ, and this building houses some of the most wanted criminals from all over Gotham City and all the crazy tools and gadgets they use for their criminal activities. You’ll also find a bunch of factories and warehouses spread across this area, like the warehouses for Falcone Shipping and Sionis Industries and the building for Kord Industries.
Further into the Island, you’ll come across Chinatown, which is bathing with neon lights and is the commercial part of town for tons of local Chinese and Asian businesses. You’ll also find the historic Gotham City Clocktower here, which Batman uses as a secret base alongside the Ace Chemicals Processing Plant and the Chinatown Branch of The Bank of Gotham, among other sights. Chinatown is a very vibrant part of town, and since it’s always raining in Gotham, the lights reflecting off the pavement bring this area to life.
Finally, you will come across an area that is separated by a canal and is known as Panessa Studios. An old and massive movie studio that Batman has taken over and uses as a second base of operations. You’ll see a crashed blimp here that used to be the Iron Heights Penitentiary, and you can also see the Gotham City lighthouse standing alone in the distance.
The areas on Bleake Island are quite generic, with nothing that stands out, in particular, other than Chinatown, but the design, aesthetic, and overall build of the Island show the diversity of the locations and the separation between them very well. There’s so much packed into such a tiny space that despite the unrealistic nature of all of that being crammed into one area, it feels believable, and the sights and landmarks, despite being nothing special, are still worth visiting.
Miagani Island, on the other hand, serves up Gotham’s commercial and shopping districts, with a ton of landmarks and shops to peruse. For starters, you have Pauli’s Diner here, which serves up some of the finest diner meals all over Gotham City. This is also the place where the Scarecrow incident started, so keep that in mind when you order your next meal. Other than Pauli’s Diner, the area is also home to The Midtown Mall for all your shopping needs, alongside the Wesker, ORB, and Klyce theaters for your entertainment needs. Lacy’s Department Store, on the other hand, has all your daily needs covered. You can also visit the Black Canary Club if you feel like gambling a little.
In these locales, you can find the Wayne Tower, the GCR, and the Gotham Globe building right next to the Soder Cola building. There is more to Miagani Island, with landmarks like the Elliot Memorial Hospital for all your healthcare needs and a place frequented by Gotham’s criminals on account of Batman caving their faces in. Will they ever learn?
You can also find the Pinkney Orphanage here which The Riddler has taken over. The Botanical Gardens can also be visited if you are interested in nature. Poison Ivy will have a field day here, I am sure. Then you have a ton of general and department stores alongside places like the Kingston Branch of the Bank of Gotham, the Heavenly Hotel, the Fire Station, Harold’s Repair Shop, the Ferris Mall, and a lot more.
As I said, Miagani Island is much more varied and diverse when compared to Bleake Island and is home to a ton of places that the residents of Gotham visit on a daily basis. From stores to buy food to malls to buy clothing and other accessories to theaters where movies and plays can be enjoyed. Miagani Island would be a crowded and popular place here in Gotham if the city wasn’t evacuated. I love the visual diversity on offer here, alongside the towering buildings dominating the crowds of people going about their business below.
Finally, we have Founder’s Island, and the first thing you’ll immediately notice about this Island is that the entire Island is under heavy construction and restructuring. As the name suggests, this is the Island or part of the city around which the entire city was built, and depending on whom you ask, there’s a ton or nothing to see here. First things first, the Island has a new layer or level that is being built on top of the old, so you’ll see a lower section of the Island and then an upper section.
The lower section of the Island houses the old Cobblepot mansion alongside the old Osiris Cinema Theatre. That’s not it, as there are a ton of shops and businesses here as well. Then you can also find another branch of the Bank of Gotham. The Pretty Dolls Parlor is where Professor Pyg does his horrible body experiments. You’ll also find The Killinger Department Store here. The Arkham Knight himself has taken over. The lower section of the Island is filthy and murky on account of all the construction going on around it, and it will soon be history.
The upper section, though incomplete, is posh, with wide and clean streets, and houses the headquarters for all of the wealthy families and their businesses. Capitalism 101. You can find the Wayne International Plaza alongside the offices for Lexcorp, Gothcorp, Queen Industries, and tons of other skyscrapers that dominate the skyline and dwarf the streets below. Attached to Founder’s Island is Port Adams, Gotham’s largest port, and its route of trade with the rest of the world.
Founder’s Island would be the business district of Gotham City, built on top of the foundation of the city as a whole. There are tons of interesting sights here, and this is the perfect place for people who want to see the juxtaposition between the old Gotham and the new Gotham.
These have been the three major islands of Gotham City that you’ll be exploring throughout “Arkham Knight,” and trust me when I say this; there’s more than what meets the eye here. The map is dense and packed with a ton of easter eggs for you to discover, and the city as a whole is a sight to see and marvel at and a lot of fun to explore and get lost in.
Gotham City has got to be one of the most popular fictional cities in any media, and with how many renditions this city has gotten, it’s hard to pick one that trumps all, but at the same time, the “Arkham Knight” version of Gotham City may be one of the best renditions of Gotham City we have ever seen. Everything here is stunning and built with so much passion and attention to detail that even after almost eight years, the sights still blow my mind. The one thing that ties this entire city together more than the buildings and the Easter eggs is the atmosphere. They nailed it here, and it’s something you need to see with your own eyes. That’s why I didn’t mention it at all. When we read about Gotham City, we imagine a city where the sun never shines, where it constantly rains, and where the streets are never a safe place to be and are filthy and murky. Rocksteady did a phenomenal job of creating that ambiance and atmosphere. Gotham City is filthy here, and it feels like you’ll get mugged any second while you walk the streets. The rain adds a ton to the experience, as it should, and you can practically smell the filth as you walk, glide, or drive across the city.
The roads also deserve special mention, as they are wide enough for the Batmobile to cruise through, something Rocksteady asked for extra time from Warner Bros. to perfect, and that extra time paid off big time. The towering skyscrapers and the blimps flying overhead also add to the timeless look of this city. They continued with the gothic look they had going for the other games, and here it’s modernized while also somehow maintaining the old aesthetic. Gargoyles perch on every building you see, and Arkham Asylum and Arkham City can be seen far in the distance. The oversized moon that dominates the sky as Batman glides across the city also does a tremendous job of adding more atmosphere and personality to the city. Small changes make big impacts, and that can easily be seen here in this game. I can’t say it any other way without sounding like a broken record, but this Gotham City is on a whole different level and is a place you should definitely explore. There’s a ton more here, but I can’t mention everything and talk about it; it’ll take over 100 pages to do so, and what will be left for you to see then? It may not look much like a real city, but what’s here is incredible and a spectacle. This is how open-world games and cities should be designed, as the map is big but not crazy massive and chock-full of little details, and I love every square centimeter of this place. The towering skyscrapers may be all glamorous and clean, but they can’t hide all the filth that lurks below.