The first two games of the Batman: Arkham
series have been pointed to as pinnacles of the superhero genre. With the recent release of Batman: Arkham Origins
, the questions become: Will Warner Bros. Interactive keep an impressive series alive and gliding, is the new addition of multiplayer looking to tear gamers away from the recent multiplayer monster releases of Battlefield 4
and Call of Duty: Ghosts
, is Arkham Origins
more of the same successful Arkham
formula, and will it leave Batman
fans wanting more?
The story remains set in Gotham but goes further back in time before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
. Batman is almost unknown in the city and is considered as much of a threat as the rival gangs and their respective leaders. With a $50 million bounty on him, eight assassins have paid Gotham City a visit to bring Batman’s head to the super villain Black Mask and claim this healthy amount of cash. Batman must survive, locate and take out these assassins all while evading the Gotham City Police who are also out to capture Batman. On top of all of this mayhem, other villains like The Joker, The Riddler and Anarky are all also trying to end Batman and take advantage of the chaotic situation.
As Batman heads out to work for the night, it only takes a couple of fights to see that we’re in control of a less-experienced and more emotional hero than the one from the previous instalments in the series. This makes for some intense and impressive cut scenes throughout the game as Batman meets some of his well-known enemies for the first time.
Fighting remains the same as the first two games thanks to the impressive and well-executed Freeflow system, allowing players to fight, switch, and strike a number of enemies without having to mess with aiming or camera angles. Countering, stringing together combos and pulling off special moves are always rewarding and feel as great as ever. New style enemies increase the difficulty of these fights with martial arts experts and enemies pumped with Bane's trademark "Venom" steroid adding their own set of unique attacks which require either further countering or evading completely. An interesting addition to Batman’s arsenal are Shock Gloves. Once charged during battle, the gloves pack some serious punches with devastating electric charges that can smash through enemies who are heavily armoured or are using shields. With these new gloves comes a new element of control. It’s very easy to feel like Super Mario on Star Power once the gloves are charged, but the need to counter and strike at the right enemy at the right time to keep the flow of the battle going is still essential. All in all, the combat remains a solid part of the game and the addition of new challenges will keep players fighting and aiming for the highest possible combo.
The gliding and diving mechanics from previous entries remain unchanged. The city itself is the largest of the series, so there’s plenty of traveling that can be done. During those travels, there’s plenty of side-missions available that offer rewards once successfully completed. With the way some of the upgrades and new abilities unlock in Origins
, the side-missions are actually more rewarding. For example the "Disarm and Destroy" move renders the enemy's shield, baton, or gun useless for the rest of the fight. In order to unlock this move, Batman must complete Bird’s objectives by locating and destroying supplies of Venom hidden in various places around the city. Each side-mission or alternative objective offers its own unique reward, so there’s plenty to keep players entertained as they travel through Gotham. Batman can also use the Batwing to fast travel to certain locations in the city after restoring com towers to clear the signal for the Batwing's auto-navigation system.
Thanks to the variety of gadgets Batman has on offer, including the always handy detective vision, Batman is never stuck in one situation for too long. Most of these ideas, gadgets and solutions will have been seen before: using glue grenades to stop the flow of hot smoke coming from pipes, charging the remote batarang to disable a fuse box, playing "Simon Says" with batarangs. These experiences are not bad, they’re just not fresh.
The cut scenes and story are very impressive with plenty of twists, turns, surprises and explosive action. The boss battles are impressive and reasonably challenging as Batman must use all of his skills to take down his opponent. The detective mode has seen some changes and contains more to investigate at crime scenes as Batman tries to find out what’s happened during particular areas of the story. Although it doesn’t really give you the opportunity to put your crime scene intelligence to the test, it’s much more interesting to see Batman piece back together the events of a crime as bullets, deaths, explosions are all forwarded and reversed in time while you comb over the crime.
One thing that we’ve not seen so far in the series is the addition of multiplayer. Eight players are broken down into three teams. Two teams of three are elite thugs working for either The Joker or Bane, while the remaining two players team up as Batman and Robin. For the thug teams to win, they must simply wipe the other team out whilst capturing and holding three objectives on the map that gain their team more reinforcements, ammo, and even a one-off appearance from the respective team's leader. Batman and Robin win the game by knocking out any of the gang members and gradually building up their intimidation bar.
After some seriously long waits in lobbies due to the matches not being able to start until all eight available slots were filled, the multiplayer wasn’t actually that bad. Playing as either Batman or Robin was where the fun was really to be had as their speed, abilities, and gadgets made it easy to stalk, torment, and take down the enemies. Success requires the heroes to be quick and relentless. Heroes can’t "Takedown" thugs if they are within the thug’s line of sight, making the heroes keep their distance or hide until the time to strike was right. Playing as a thug soon became less fun as their abilities like sprinting and enhanced vision were very limited and would need frequent recharging. There was also an unfortunate bug that occasionally rendered thugs useless when spawning. How useless? This bug would see to it that their gun wouldn’t fire, they couldn’t melee, or do anything but run. The multiplayer is not a bad addition to the game; the idea works well for a coordinated team and players can make progress towards upgraded weapons and gadgets, giving them an incentive to put in the effort and unlock better equipment.
The achievements bring out all of the elements of the game including the main storyline, collectables, Challenge Maps, fighting skills, and the new addition of multiplayer. Three playthroughs will be the minimum for the campaign as all three modes will need completing for each achievement. All medals must be earned from Ranked, Predator, and Campaign Maps for each of those achievements. This could cause problems for those not patient or tactical enough for the Predator Maps, as they can be quite difficult especially when modifiers are thrown into the works. Multiplayer achievements will be pretty tough to earn legit but thankfully, I know of plenty people on a really cool website who like to boost these type of achievements. It’s been just under two weeks since the game was released but if the 6005 TA points for the 1000 Gamerscore the game currently sits at is anything to go by, we could be in for quite the decent grind to unlock all the achievements in the game.Batman: Arkham Origins
is a fantastic game. The story is gripping and exciting, the characters are a blast to see in action as always, and going back to a slightly younger, more emotional Batman was quite interesting. The fighting, movement, graphics, sounds, Challenge, Predator & Combat Maps are all still solid, but haven’t really changed much from Arkham City
. I personally like to roll with the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it,” and granted that nothing’s broke, it would’ve been nice for a little fix of "more" here and there. Fans of the series will know exactly what to expect when playing the game and not really be hit with much that’s dazzling, fresh, and new.
The reviewer spent around 25-30 hours in a Batsuit completing the main story mode on "Normal" difficulty, popping 12 of the game's 50 achievements, practicing to make perfect in the Challenge Mode maps, and working under the Joker’s employment in multiplayer. The copy of this game was provided by the publisher.