Warner Bros. Montreal has made a game set in the second year of the Dark Knight’s career, just as he’s meeting some famous characters from Batman lore and developing the relationships that will define his time as a crime fighter, but after the phenomenal “Batman: Arkham City,” “Batman: Arkham Origins” cannot stand tall with the other two games in the “Arkham” franchise
As Mentioned before, “Batman: Arkham Origins” is set two years into Batman’s career, so naturally we see that he hasn’t honed his skills and isn’t as refined as we have known him to be.
The story starts out on Christmas Eve with the villain Black Mask breaking out of prison and hiring eight assassins to kill Batman in one night.
It makes for a nice excuse for Batman to constantly run into villains in the course of a single night.
Aside from the assassins, Batman will also meet other villains such as the Joker and the Penguin to add to the roster of rogues in this game. The plot overall is an alright story with some good twists, but it kind of feels like they regret the way things ended in Arkham City.
It is nice seeing the dynamic that Batman and Commissioner Gordon have during their encounters, especially during the Firefly sequence.
Gordon and the Joker’s encounters are some of the most memorable moments of the game.
This time around, Batman and the Joker aren’t voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil, but instead are voiced by Roger Craig Smith (Ezio Auditorie, Chris Redfield) and Troy Baker (Booker Dewitt, Joel), respectively, and they do an outstanding job as the characters. Smith brings the the whole unrefined Batman to life and Baker does a good job of sounding exactly how a younger Mark-Hamil Joker would sound.
As far as gameplay, “Arkham Origins” is very similar to the other “Arkham” games with a few new tweaks.
|Deathstroke and Batman meet for the first time.|
Being that the game is set in the entirety of Gotham City now instead of a walled of section of it, there is now a fast-travel system implemented into the game via Batman’s personal airplane, the Batwing.
That brings up two annoyances with the game though. The game map is double the size of “Arkham City,” but it’s oddly separated by a bridge in the middle as if Gotham was just two islands and one is just basically the “Arkham City” map cleaned up and covered with more snow.
Another thing is is that the city of Gotham is dead. There’s no one on the streets aside from a few random criminals. The game’s excuse is that there’s a snowstorm warning in effect and citizens are to remain inside, but it just feels like a cop out. It makes the doubled city size worthless to explore.
The combat is identical to previous games which is good, but also leads to a weird circumstance: if this is a younger Batman, how does he know all the moves that he will come to learn during the events of “Arkham City” many years in the future? I can understand for the sake of gameplay to leave it that way, but maybe leaving more of it as unlockable would have been a better option.
One gadget you have to add to your arsenal is the shock gauntlets. When used in combat, these bypass any defenses enemies may have. It’s kind of like a free-for-all tool that’ll help you out in dire spots.
The stealth-based predator scenarios are largely the same as they’ve ever been, but with a new gadget for that as well. The remote claw is used to help pull and tie two things together. It’s great for tying thugs to gargoyles or to fire extinguishers to create smoke clouds.
Overall the gameplay is pretty much a lot of the same, which isn’t a bad thing. Rocksteady had a winning formula and it’s hard to add stuff to something that works so well.
|Batman and Robin as they appear in multiplayer.|
There’s a multiplayer mode for the first time in the series, but it’s just alright – nothing too special.
Its basically a 3 vs. 3 vs. 2 capture the flag. Three people plays as the Joker’s forces, three as Bane’s forces and two play as Batman and Robin stalking the criminals from above.
The Joker and Bane henchmen must capture certain spots on the map and hold them down while killing the opposing forces and defending against the Dynamic Duo. They can even bring in their respective leaders to help aid in the fight. Batman and Robin’s job is to take down enough enemies that the intimidation meter goes up and scares away the other two teams.
For the most part it all works well, but it’s just not interesting enough to keep you coming back to play it. Aside from being mildly boring, it took me several tries just to find a match to play in because no one was playing it at the time of this review.
Other things I should mention are that the game has severe framerate issues when traveling around the city, and in several cases the game has crashed altogether. Other grievances such as falling through the map and other glitches plague the game throughout.
Overall, “Batman: Arkham Origins” is an alright game with some problems. It’s understandable that living up to a highly-rated game is a hard thing to pull off, but when it comes to just making the game to work right, Warner Bros. Montreal fails repeatedly. This is easily the weakest game in the series. That it doesn’t mean its not worth a playthrough, just maybe not for $60.