‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ Rating: Is The Industry Getting Stricter On Content?

The Batman: Arkham Knight rating was given as “Mature” by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). This raises the question of why previous games in the series weren’t given the same rating.

Games in the series previously included some potentially upsetting scenes, such as characters sitting in chairs with TVs on their heads, graphic threats by Killer Croc to eat Batman alive, and the infamous Scarecrow levels where Batman hallucinates on a potent drug. We also heard Penguin freezing and smashing a guard’s hand once. Even the combat is brutal, with snapping bones and incredibly violent finishing moves.

While said moves aren’t on par with those of Mortal Kombat, they still look painful.

So what led to the Batman: Arkham Knight rating making it as the most violent game in the series? The following is ESRB‘s explanation for the “Mature” rating. Be warned that there are spoilers in it.

“This is an action-adventure game in which players primarily assume the role of Batman as he battles several villains spreading chaos across Gotham City. Players traverse a variety of locations around Gotham while battling thugs, examining crime scenes, and occasionally rescuing hostages. Players engage in melee-style combat using punches, kicks, and gadgets (e.g., batarangs, explosives). Enemies cry out in pain when struck, and some [take-downs] are highlighted by brief slow-motion effects and loud impact sounds. Some sequences allow players to use tank-like vehicles with machine gun turrets and rockets to shoot enemies; a vehicle’s wheels are also used to torture an enemy in one sequence. Cutscenes depict characters getting shot (on and off camera) while restrained or unarmed. Large bloodstains/pools of blood appear in crime scenes and in the aftermath of violent acts; one room depicts a person torturing a character on a bloody operating table. During the course of the game, players can shoot unarmed characters and a hostage. Neon signs in a red-light district read ‘live nude girls’ and ‘XXX.’ The words ‘b*tch,’ ‘gobsh*te,’ and ‘a*s’ appear in the dialogue.”

The new Batman: Arkham Knight rating could well be justified if scenes of Batman torturing enemies and shooting unarmed targets are included. However, as IGN states, the scenes may indicate that you play as another character at some point, since Batman doesn’t kill. One of the pre-order bonuses in the game include the ability to play as villain Harley Quinn, so that’s part of what the scenes may be referring to.

Rocksteady could be taking a major risk in losing some of its audience with the Batman: Arkham Knight rating. What do you think of the increased level of violence being used in the Batman: Arkham Knight gameplay?

[Image via Rockstar/WBIE]