Batman: Arkham Origins Review
publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
developer: Warner Bros. Entertainment
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: RP
release date: Oct 25, 13
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Rocksteady Studios created something truly special when their 3rd-person action adventure Batman: Arkham Asylum. Stepping away from the gritty visual style of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, Arkham Asylum embodies a more cartoonish version of everyone’s favorite nighttime hero, generally inspired, of course, by the iconic DC Comics character. What painted an even darker and consequently better picture here was Rocksteady’s devotion to characterization. Each character from Batman to the Joker, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and others were given a fair amount of backdrop thanks to subtle details like recordings of therapy sessions at Arkham Asylum. They’ve set up the characters and a rich history, placing it all into a morbid and unsettling ambience that makes one pretty scary fucking asylum. It’s an institute for the criminally insane and home to some of Arkham’s most dangerous villains. It was superb storytelling magnified by unexpected segments such as Batman plunging into a twisted and distorted reality after he consumes lethal venom served by one of his greatest foes - the Scarecrow. Packed with hours of immensely fun gameplay, revolving around the game’s 360-degree combat mechanics, Arkham Asylum fully deserved all honors we’ve given it (including Game of the Year 2009).
A slice of Batman to bring to the Joker's tea party.
Bzzzt. Shocking. Just shocking.
Ever since Arkham Asylum hit the market, publisher Warner Bros. has been trying to emulate its tremendous success largely by recycling the same ideas. With Arkham City, players were given a wider area to explore and a wide variety of characters entered the scene. Somehow, Arkham City didn’t have the magic of its predecessor. Feeling the same kind of unease, we entered the world of Arkham Origins, convinced that we’ll never be back into the captivating setting of Arkham Asylum.
Five years before the events of Arkham Asylum, Batman is faced with his biggest challenge yet. Up to now the caped crusader has managed to bring criminals to swift justice thanks to his skills and resourcefulness. For years he remained vigilant, but now he has to deal with eight of the world’s deadliest assassins, all of which have one goal: take out Batman.
The extremely addictive and well-implemented 360-degree combat is ever present throughout the single-player campaign as Batsy takes on endless rows of baddies throughout the streets of Gotham. Things were spiced up a bit with new gadgets that were added to Batman’s equipment such as the Remote Claw, Concussion Detonator and Shock Gloves. Each item is used to reach specific areas, in addition to being a useful weapon in combat. Apart from these, you can also rely on several weapons that have returned from previous iterations, like the Explosive Gel, Cryptographic Sequencer, Smoke Pellets and Grapnel Accelerator (basically the same as the Grapnel Boost).
Arkham Origins takes some time to get going. Marching into the fray against numerous villains all by himself, Batman gathers up his strength, mastering new fighting skills and improving his gadgets and crime-fighting tech. Not before long you start to realize that this game is a rehash of all those elements that defined the previous two titles, or, better yet, what defined the original. So, instead of making an effort to innovate and bring us an evolved version of an excellent game, Warner Bros. brings us more of the same game.
Dealing with an assortment of some of Gotham’s deadliest criminals is where this game shines. There are so many tasks to choose from, most of which will lead to pretty cool boss encounters. Some of these are optional and not necessarily tied into the main plot, albeit they are a pleasing addition to main campaign and can potentially keep you occupied for hours. However, no matter how many different villains await out there, the game hastens to put you back into the familiar 360-combat mechanics or Dark Knight challenges where you have to be stealthy rather than, um, punchy. Notable exceptions are sequences where Batman is tossed into Mad Hatter’s Wonderland, where the objective is to survive and save Alice.
If you wish, you may also take part in the game’s competitive multiplayer mode, where 8 players are divided into 3 teams. Each team is lead by one chief character, so, there’s Batman and Robin, Bane's crew and Joker's henchmen. The multiplayer segment certainly has great potential, although this might’ve been wasted since it cannot compare to the smooth and practically flawless mechanics of the single-player game. No matter which side you're on in this interesting little three-way clash, you just end up being disappointed, especially if you're one of the heroes; heroes that die way too easily if you ask me.
It didn’t take me too long to return to the single-player. With potential spoilers, I have to admit I was surprised to witness what the team at Warner Bros. have done to present an early version of the franchise’s most prominent baddie – the Joker (not voiced by Mark Hamil this time around, although it’s almost as good). Joker's appearance was surprising indeed. However, it was most welcome and what we saw in this game was a younger Joker, but one that's still as creepie as his older counterpart from the previous two titles.
A dark well-told story shows Batman's struggle against overwhelming foes, combat as addictive as ever, impressive amount of challenges, cool side-missions;
Riddler's puzzles were a lot more fun in previous games, this title simply recycles familiar ideas from previous Batman games and features nothing new.