For those of you who have been living under a rock, Batman: Arkham Origins recently swooped onto shop shelves and into disc trays bringing us the prequel to the Arkham series that no one really asked for. So without further ado, let’s take a look into the game. (Spoilers! Duh!)
Gotham’s Savior or Bad Joke?
The game opens with a younger Batman trying to stop one of the many Blackgate riots which leads to the games main antagonist, Blackmask, escaping, leaving a $50 million bounty on the dark knight’s head. Early on we see that although this isn’t the caped crusader’s first rodeo, he certainly isn’t as experienced as we’re used to, so naturally this gives us plenty of character development as Bruce starts to learn that taking on 8 assassins on his own is not the smartest move of his bat themed career.
The story introduces some new villains to the Arkham franchise, some well known such as Deathstroke and some who not all DC fans will know such as Anarky (seriously, I have no idea who he is.) We’re also finally graced with a Bane who is not only brutal, but smart enough to figure out Batman’s identity… *Spoiler alert*: It’s Bruce Wayne.
The combat system is pretty much the same as the other games: X to strike, Y to counter and B to stun. A few new gadgets are thrown in with copious amounts of quick time events during boss fights to add a bit of variety, but all in all it still feels like I’m fighting through the last game, and to me that’s not a massive problem… If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Like Arkham City the game also allows players to freely glide around Gotham City in a game map so big it warrants a fast travel system. The only problem is that the city feels as empty and cold as the weather. Gliding through, the only reason I knew which area I was in was because of some landmarks I remembered from my time fighting Hugo Strange.
Sure there are pretty fun side quests again and even crimes in progress that Batman can stop using his unique brand of ‘beat them until they get a concussion or lapse into a coma’ justice, but am I seriously meant to expect no one is rushing around on Christmas Eve? Even with 8 assassins roaming around I’d rather risk that than not get my girlfriend that final present!
Whilst the new characters certainly are a treat, as the game gives players all sorts of new villains to beat around the head, the real icing of the Arkham Origins cake is the introduction of The Joker. With Mark Hamill no longer lending his voice to the game, The Joker is blessed with the extremely talented, Troy Baker (Booker DeWitt – Bioshock Infinite, Joel – The Last of Us).
A lot of fans were skeptical of this decision, but not only does Baker deliver a voice that strikes fear into the heart of any hardened Batman veteran, he also manages to capture Joker’s insanity as the game ends with a chilling rendition of Cold Cold Heart.
Batman: Arkham Origins is also the first game in the series to feature online play, which unfortunately I can’t review due to giving up on it after waiting an hour to try and find an actual game. It does feature a 1970’s Batman skin and some really cool character customization, so I guess that if I can ever get into a game it might be pretty cool.
Overall, I did enjoy playing Arkham Origins. The story was short but satisfying, and the conflict between the even sassier Alfred and Bruce gave me feelings I haven’t felt since The Dark Knight Rises. It also allows me to run around putting the word ‘Bat’ before every verb.
Bearing in mind that this is not a Batman origin story, but more the tale of how Arkham came to be, I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the previous games. Although I don’t ever remember finishing Arkham City and thinking “Gee, a prequel would work well right here” I do recall screaming for a sequel after some lovely little cameos from both Hush and Azrael left me craving closure on their stories.
Have you played Arkham Origins? Did you manage to play more than one game online? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below or tweet me @JonathonAalders