Published on November 14th, 2013 | by Andy Bell2
Review: Batman Arkham Origins
In 2009 Rocksteady released Batman: Arkham Asylum, and for comic book fans and lovers of all things in a cape, our world changed forever. Never before have we all had the opportunity to be so immersed and engaged in Batman’s world and ultimately become the Dark Knight.
Fast forward 3 years and the hugely successful Arkham City was released, a sequel to Arkham Asylum we were introduced to an aging and battled Batman set within the city of Arkham coming to blows with foes new and old.
Present day; Arkham Origins hits our consoles and unlike the previous titles, Arkham Origins as its name suggests is a prequel to the last two games and just when we are getting familiar with the grizzled Batman, we are introduced to an inexperienced, younger, but more agile Batman.
The Plotline, (and not to give away big spoilers) as I mentioned is a prequel to the previous titles and Bruce Wayne, having not long donned the cape and having not yet become the hero we love, is still going about his business and managing to ruffle many feathers among the crime world, mainly those of the Black Mask. The Black Mask crime lord thus decides to place an extraordinarily large bounty on Batman’s head and you get all of the nastiest villains crawling out of the woodwork on Christmas Eve of all days, trying to have a pop at our caped crusader. Without giving away further story details, please let me assure you that the story is full of twists, turns and a few surprises, for it is a truly glorious journey of rediscovery of being reintroduced to Batman, his greatest foes and making the player understand why Batman is so and how he and his enemies and his world have been shaped.
Playing the first two games and watching them naturally evolve, mainly in size, I struggled to see what could possibly be done to move the game forward further, and playing the game at Eurogamer Expo this year, the only difference that struck once again was the increased scale of the game. This assumption was actually my ignorance to notice the level of change. The thought and attention to detail in this game is actually truly mind-boggling. Origins clearly introduces us to a younger Batman, not only in appearance but in movement and grace; in the previous games I felt playing Batman gave me a shade of invincibility, while in Origins, I felt vulnerable at first and only as the story progressed and as Batman evolves throughout the game did I feel that I was becoming that “hard-core” hero. Truthfully never before has a game struck me with such a well-planned and thought out story line and progression, the three games come full circle and involves you in a way you could have only dreamed about.
While not to dwell on my feelings of the game, it is not without its criticisms. The game is patchy and had freezing issues. Some, it appears were worse than others. I also had some contact issues of Batman not countering enemy attacks but without a doubt in my mind, WB Montreal will clear this issue up with the upcoming patch. I feel these issues could only be noticed due to the sheer amount of enemies you encounter at any one time, it feels like it has increased two-fold if not more. With some loss of the stealth gameplay from the previous titles, the opportunity to unleash your inner bat on hoards of enemies has increased with battles of up to 20 goons trying to have a go all at once on several occasions. This is a great improvement as a good balance between stealth and combos is still achieved and not many opportunities for large battles were available in the previous games outside of the challenge rooms.
On to the size of the game, how long have you got? I should mention that completing the game on a quick run through will give you about 22-24% game completion. Back is the Riddler with all of the hidden packages, and you also have the “crime in progress” missions – similar to the kind of random encounters you got in the Spiderman games, but the biggest add on is the most wanted missions, without wanting to give away plot details, they are an evolution of the side missions you faced with Arkham City but bigger, longer and with an attached sub story they certainly feel more in depth.
Now on to the biggest change in the new Batman and that is the introduction of a multiplayer. At this point my mind drifts to another great game, Assassins Creed. Back when the multiplayer was introduced for this game I was already thinking “what are they doing?” and “how could this work?” and yes, this is how I feel with Batman moving in this direction. I associate Batman with a large selfish hole that I like to crawl inside and not come up for air until I have completed the game fully, the idea of sharing my Batman with other people just seems a bit odd. This aside I insert disc 2 and give it a go… eventually. Sadly it takes five nights to get a game online and after going through the tutorial I am still at a loss as to exactly what I have to do once a game starts up!
But what you get is something new, something different and actually something good! So forget the confusing tutorial and read this; this multiplayer is a mash up of three different modes in one. You have two gangs, Joker’s and Bane’s, and they fight each other in a death match with domination thrown in. Once control has been gained by either team, they get to unlock their “hero”, or villain in this case, this being The Joker or Bane. Both villains have a perk, Bane with his rocket launcher and Joker with his “hand-cannon”, all in order to eliminate the other team, but wait! While this standard multiplayer is happening on the base level, up in the rooftops you have your “heroes” chosen at random at the start of the game. Somebody gets to play Batman or Robin and you have to take out all of the gangs, if possible! You do get some perks over the gangs to help you out, but playing against predicable A.I in the game to playing against humans in the multiplayer is a different thing altogether and proves rather challenging. You get to win the game as a hero by gaining intimidation – gained by performing takedowns on the gang members, the more flamboyant the better and of course you will quickly lose your hard earned intimidation by getting yourself killed. To accompany the multiplayer you can fully customize your character for Bane’s gang and Joker’s gang, dress your heroes in vintage costumes, plus unlock a variety of perks to aid you in the multiplayer. All in all there is a massive effort in launching the multiplayer and ensuring that it is received well.
With only one mode available and four maps on online at the moment, I would like to see some more from WB Montreal on this front and with the level of time that it has taken me to play online, I hope that the forthcoming patch might clear that up. Aside from this the main game can be hardly faulted (bugs removed!), the storyline has few rivals and the visuals are spectacular. The decision to have more of the fisticuffs in the game was a great one and the multiple boss battles are the best and most challenging yet.
Summary: This game improves and surpasses on what was already a sound foundation, and without a doubt is the best Batman game yet. Once the bugs are patched and fixed (anytime now) go out and buy and you will not be disappointed.