Batman Arkham Origins review

Batman Arkham Origins review

T3 4
  • Batman Arkham Origins is a worthy entry in the Arkham series, even if it brings precious little in the way of innovation to the table

    Batman Arkham Origins review

    Love

    • Being Batman
    • Sublime combat
    • Decent stories

    Hate

    • Lack of innovation
    • Lack of agency
    • Frequent crashes

    Batman: Arkham Origins was always going to have a tough road ahead of it. Not only did it have to compete with Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City – two of the best games ever made – it had to quash fears from the fan base.

    When news emerged that RockSteady, the British studio behind the first two Arkham title wasn’t developing Origins, there were murmurings that new studio, WB Montreal wouldn’t be up to the task.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Gameplay

    It’s perhaps for this very reason the new studio hasn’t taken all that many risks with Batman: Arkham Origins. The game looks and plays very much like its predecessor and very little of the core gameplay has been tinkered with.

    Like Arkham City, Batman Arkham Origins puts players in the boots of the Dark Knight and gives them the dark, Gothic city of Gotham to move about in. Like Arkham City, Gotham is draped in snow and the only people on the streets are clutches of villains who are ignoring a citywide emergency curfew.

    The rooftops and alleyways of Gotham are also filled with a ton of collectibles – Riddler packs, Black Mask drugs and Penguin weapons caches – and hunting them down will take a small age. Players glide through the streets using Batman’s cape and they can use his Bat Claw to slingshot him through the air.

    They have access to a host of gadgets from the previous games – batarangs, gas pellets and so forth – and a couple of new toys such at the Remote claw, which can be used to create zipline and tightropes. It can also be used as a ranged weapon; when fired at two targets it slams them both together.

    Batman’s detective vision makes a return, allowing players to see enemies and items of interest through walls. Batman can also remotely access his computer at certain crime scenes and construct 3D images that show players what transpired. It’s a neat gimmick but it essentially amounts to watching an animated playback and looking for highlighted sections.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Combat

    Combat is still a one-button-attack although players can deploy quick-fire gadgets and they have to watch out for incoming attacks from enemies. It’s generally sublime, although occasionally player agency feels a little off and fight animations can be a bit hard to read. This is problematic since so much of one’s success in a fight depends on timing.

    The developers have also tossed a couple of new foes into the mix; there’s a martial artist who is able to counter attacks and a giant enforcer, which the player needs to daze with a cape flick before administering a beat down.

    Aside from the fisticuffs and puzzle solving, players will also spend some time in Predator rooms; these are rooms filled with gun-toting enemies capable of dispatching Batman with a couple of shots, so it’s wise to stay in the shadows and only attack enemies when they’re isolated.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Plot

    So with much the same mechanics and design in effect, Arkham Origins has to rely on the game’s plot to win over the audience. It’s not half bad, to be sure. As the title suggests, this story is set early on in Batman’s career as a caped vigilante. As the game begins, a villain named Black Mask places a $50m contract on Batman’s head, which attracts a group of assassins and bounty hunters to converge on Gotham.

    At the same time, villains who aren’t interested in hunting down the caped crusader turn their attentions to a citywide crime spree while Batman is otherwise engaged. Batman has to shut down the activities of Gotham’s criminals, defeat the bounty hunters and arrest Black Mask. All in a night’s work, really.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Multiplayer

    The other new feature – and it’s probably one fans will approach with some trepidation – is the online multiplayer. In it players take on the role of gang member working for either The Joker or Bane and then they have at it in a turf war. The idea here is to control points in a map and wipe out the opposition until they run out of respawn tokens.

     


    The big twist here is that a third couple of players can take on the role of Batman and Robin and their job is to stalk the other players as though the online mode is one of the many Predator rooms in the main game.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Features

    As fun as this all sounds – and it is a lot of fun – Arkham Origins has more than a couple of issues. Aside from issues of timing in the combat, we noted several glitches and bugs.

    One instance involved being unable to interact with an enemy that surrendered. Another, which prompted a restart, involved falling endlessly through the scenery. In our full play through of the game – which was a retail copy – it also crashed several times.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Verdict 

    So Arkham Origins isn’t as good as its predecessor, but that’s not to say we don’t heartily recommend you pick up a copy – especially if you’re a fan of Batman. Even with its issues, its glitches and its lack of innovation, Batman Arkham Origins is an absolute blast to play.

    With Challenge Rooms, Extras and an online mode in play, it’s likely gamers will return to this title again and again. It seems that even on his worst day, Batman is preferable to a lot of the competition.  

    Batman Arkham Origins release date: Out now

    Batman Arkham Origins price: £39.99

  • Batman Arkham Origins offers a new plot, new enemies and new toys to play with, but keeps most of what made its predecessors hits in tact

    Batman Arkham Origins review

    Love

    • Being Batman
    • Sublime combat
    • Decent stories

    Hate

    • Lack of innovation
    • Lack of agency
    • Frequent crashes

    Batman: Arkham Origins has two of the toughest acts in gaming to follow. Both of its predecessors are two of the highest rated and biggest selling games on this generation of consoles and rightly so. Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City had everything; great plots, wonderful mechanics, superb gameplay and most important of all, Batman.

    Origins obviously had that last asset in the bank before development went ahead, but does it have the chops to compete with its forebears?

    Batman Arkham Origins: Plot

    The set up for Batman: Arkham City casts Black Mask – a bloke in a dapper white suit and a black skull mask – as the main villain of the piece.

    Having become irritated by Gotham’s new vigilante, Black Mask has placed $50m price on the head of Batman for one night and one night only. This has attracted every single assassin and bounty hunter from miles around to descend on Gotham and scour the city looking for Batman.

    At the same time, criminals either unwilling or unable to track the caped crusader, are using the fact that he’s being hunted to go on a massive crime spree.

    So Batman is tasked with a three-pronged quest; he has to hunt down Black Mask and remove his ability to pay the bounty, shut down the city-wide crime spree and, in the process, avoid having his head handed to him by one of the many psychos hot on his trail.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Gameplay

    Batman still navigates his environment largely by using his cape to glide and his Bat Claw to rappel up to rooftops. Players can also still extend Batman’s glide by diving briefly towards the street and the pulling back, causing him to soar skyward.

    The only major change to his movement, we’re told, is that players can now use the BatWing jet to fast travel to areas of the map that they’ve visited before.

    On the ground, the combat mechanics have been wisely left unchanged. Batman still has jump, punch and block moves and he still uses his cape to briefly daze his opponents. He can fling Batarangs at foes, momentarily blinding them, and he can still use the Bat Claw to pull foes in close and then clothesline them.

    The aim here is to build up a flow of brutal attacks, kicking the game’s multiplyer up, and then, when it’s flashing red, to deploy special moves such as Batman’s ability to snap weapons or limbs in half.

    Arkham Origins does throw a couple of curve balls at the player, though. During our hands on we encountered two new enemy types in Gotham; the Enforcer, a huge brute wearing body armour, and the Martial Artist, a nimble Kung-Fu expert.

    The former takes three flicks of Batman’s cape before he’s dazed and can’t be hurt unless his armour is torn off – which isn’t possible without a special attack. The latter is able to evade and counter attack in quick succession, meaning players need to execute twice the amount of usual blocks before they can defeat him.

    Batman’s detective abilities have been tweaked too. Detective vision is still in play, but now, players can use Batman’s remote Bat Computer to scan crime scenes and create a virtual animation of the events that transpired to cause them.

    During our play through, we used this ability to find out that a helicopter crash was cause by a bullet taking out the vehicle’s rear rotor.

    After following the trajectory of the crash, we ascertained where the bullet had been fired from and discovered it had been banked off a nearly rooftop. This, in turn, allowed Batman to uncover the identity of one of the enemies hunting him – the assassin, Deadshot.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Features

     

    During our play through, we used this ability to find out that a helicopter crash was cause by a bullet taking out the vehicle’s rear rotor.

    After following the trajectory of the crash, we ascertained where the bullet had been fired from and discovered it had been banked off a nearly rooftop. This, in turn, allowed Batman to uncover the identity of one of the enemies hunting him – the assassin, Deadshot.

    Last but not least, Batman has a brand new gadget: the Remote Claw. This is a zipline with two grappling claws on each end, and if it’s fired at two targets and then released it will pull them towards each other.

    This is useful for knocking down opponents in Predator maps; attach it to a couple of goons and you clonk their heads together. It can also be fired between vantage points to create a tightrope. We’re told it will have limited use per scenario, which is a good thing, because this item is so overpowered it turns Predator maps into a cakewalk.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Boss Battles

    We also got our first look at one of the game’s featured boss battles - this one doesn’t really ruin anything for anyone since the villain it revolves around has featured in most of the game’s release trailers so far: Deathstroke.

    Since the hands-on with this character was preceded by a short scene that gave away no major plot details, we’re not really in spoiler territory here. We can reveal, however, that the Penguin made an appearance.

    The boss fight works like an unforgiving test of the player’s knowledge of the game’s combat system. Cape flicks and stuns don’t work on Deathstroke, so players won’t be able to button-bash their way through the fight. Instead, they’ll need to pay close attention to the Deathstroke’s attack animations, running counter combos and timed strikes as often as they’re able.

    Over the course of the fight, Batman has to fend off strikes from Deathstroke’s Bo Stick, his sword and the odd flying barrel of explosives. As the player knocks off the villain’s health, his speed and the frequency of his attacks and counters will increase.

    In order to progress, players need to beat Deathstroke and when they do, they’ll be awarded his Remote Claw, which was first unveiled in the E3 demo.

    Batman Arkham Origins: Verdict

    Batman: Arkham Origins, then, is a game that will live and die on its story. The reason for this is that, without the new plot, you could make a convincing argument that this is simply Arkham City with a couple of new features tossed in.

    That, however, doesn’t bother us; we’re unabashed fans of both of the Arkham titles that preceded this one and we don’t need much excuse to don Batman’s cowl and head out in the night to kick some arse. Come this October, we’ll be heading back to Gotham City – and we can’t wait.

    Batman: Arkham Origins release date: 25 October 2013

    Batman: Arkham Origins price: From £28.99 (on PC at Amazon)

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