Written by Twisted Ideas
The early years of the Dark Knight revealed. Taking place five years before Arkham Asylum, the game will take you through the start of not only Batman’s career but some of his rogues gallery. Rocksteady, the developer of Arkahm Asylum and City did not develop Arkahm Origins. Warner Bros. Games Montreal has taken over development using game’s existing resources. Can this unestablished team give us a game we deserve?
What is it About?
Batman Arkham Origins is a prequel to the series establishing the Dark Knight early in his career. Despite the name it has almost nothing to do with Arkham. On Christmas Eve Black Mask has put a 50 million dollar bounty on Batman’s head. Eight of the most dangerous assassins have gathered in Gotham to an attempt to take down the Batman. Soon after they arrive, chaos breaks out in Blackgate Prison. Batman cannot ignore this threat to the city and prepares for the most dangerous night of his life.
This the time where Batman was still considered a myth and his only ally is Alfred. You will see the development of Batman’s relationship with his soon to be allies and villains; Each of whom questions Batman’s crusade.
What is it?
The Arkham series are stealth/actions games based off the Batman mythology. As Batman you have access to his gadgets, advanced training and detective skills to solve and stop crime in Gotham. With you stealth you can silently can creatively take out enemies without them knowing. The free flow combat system allows you to seamlessly fight and defend against large groups without slowing down the pace. You can also integrate you gadgets help deal with enemies that give you issues.
The world map has been expand to about double the size from Arkham City. You will travel between the industrial and slums to the Financial and wealthy parts to Gotham. You are able to use the Batwing to fast travel between districts after you disable radio towers jamming the Batwing’s navigational systems.
Arkham Origins offers some new gadgets but they are mostly variations or modifications of previous ones. The upgrade system has been altered to lockout some abilities until you unlock the prerequisite ones.
There are Dark Knight Challenges that unlocks new abilities and gives a lot of experience. There are four types of challenges: Combat, Predator, City and Completion. The challenges each have to be completed in sequence and every five completed challenges unlocks a reward.
There is an online mode which allows you to play have the villains or Batman and Robin. You are either a part of Joker’s or Bane’s gang in a 3rd person shooter. You are in teams of three and you are to kill the opposing gang until they are out of reinforcements. If you are Batman or Robin you have all of your gadgets from the game and its your goal to take down the gang members until the intimidation meter is filled completely ending the game. If there is a deal in takedowns or if Batman or Robin are taken down the intimidation meter depletes.
How does it look?
There is a slight improvement in the graphics but nothing substantial. The presentation and character design is much better. Batman and the villains don’t look as flashy as the comics but it fits the feel of the game better and establishes part of their roots. The animations haven’t changed much but during boss fights they pulled out all the stops to make them look epic. The scenes are well put together using subtle but effective direction to make them memorable.
The HUD isn’t as intrusive as it was in Arkham City. It’s a simplistic look that blends in with the tone and the color scheme with the game.
How does it sound?
Kevin Conroy who’s Batman’s voice actor and some other voice actor have not reprised their roles for Arkham Origins. The quality is still top-notch and their replacements are do the characters justice. The new voice actors are spot on with what the series has established while still standing out enough to own the performance.
What do I think?
I really enjoyed Arkham Origins even though it doesn’t change-up the formula. It’s still as enjoyable as Arkham Asylum and it’s a mix of stealth and action that you don’t really see in too many game. I don’t feel that it’s worn out it’s welcome. There is a greater emphasis on the detective work on crime scenes. They are fleshed out and it actually seems like Batman is uncovering the causes of the crime. The game still holds your hand by putting big red arrows over what you need to examine but rewinding the events of the crime is cool and interesting. Boss battles are an improvement and are more memorable than previous games, expect for Mr. Freeze in Arkham City. They aren’t thrown in thoughtlessly and shows off how cool Batman is.
What I really enjoyed is the greater focus on the character development and the story. This isn’t a villain story like Arkahm Asylum and City was. They are a driving force but this is a story about Batman and his struggle with being the Dark Knight. Despite his efforts no matter how many villains he takes down the city and the justice system is corrupt and more villains will appear in his city.
The difficult relationship between Batman and Captain Gordon is an interesting take on the matter. In all of the comics, shows and movies I’ve read and seen I’ve rarely is Gordon so hostile. The relationship between Batman and Alfred is the what sells me on the story. Alfred doesn’t necessarily agree with all of Bruce’s decisions but he always supports him out of love and the need to protect him. Batman’s stubbornness is actually addressed for once.
The story in the series always bothered me because it always takes place in a single night. With the amount things that’s happening in Gotham there would be too much for Batman to do. Arkham City kept on side tracking you with the next villain and it didn’t flow well with the characters and story. But what Origins has what does what the first two didn’t are take breaks. There are times where the immediate threat stops and where the character development and Batman’s story takes center stage.
This game is very glitchy and prone to freezing and from some people data corruption (which didn’t happen to me). The game lags a lot. It constantly saves when anything is accomplished, when you skip dialog or scene and when you fast travel. There was a patch that was released that seemed to stop the freezing issues. It isn’t that big of an issue most of the time because when you slowdown to fight or do predator rooms the game runs smoothly again.
The Worst Nightmare Challenges are terrible. They’re predator challenges which most, if not all, have to take place indoors. Sometimes you won’t know until an encounter is over if you completed a challenge and because the game autosave all the time you don’t get the chance to restart from a checkpoint. You have to do the challenges in sequence and some can only be done in certain rooms. You can revisit buildings but they will be empty. You will have to start a new playthrough to complete challenges you missed.
Should you get it?
The new development team has done a great job despite a few technical issues. If you’re new to the series then you don’t want to miss it and if you’re a fan already then you probably won’t be disappointed. There isn’t a lot of improvement in gameplay but the presentation is much better. This may not be enough for everyone but I’ve Asylum and City several times over and it’s no different with Origins. If you are willing to wait for the price to drop or until all the DLC is released then that’s fine. The game is still a prequel and do any major changes except for foreshadow future