The ‘Batman: Arkham’ game series brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the very successful Batman franchise with ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’, and ‘Batman: Arkham City’. The third game in the series, ‘Batman: Arkham Origins’ was released on the 25th of October, and fans, including myself, were eagerly awaiting it. Though the new installment did bring back the familiar gameplay, along with a new story, it felt rushed and not ‘complete’.
I have nothing against game developers doing an ‘origins’ story of a popular franchise, as long as they deliver something worthwhile for the players. Batman is a character with a lot of layers and that’s why an origin story sounded like an interesting direction to take. Arkham: City broadened the scope of the game and after the death of the Joker, for me, the next game would’ve been Arkham: World. Which I know didn’t sound right. So, I was looking forward to the chance of playing with the world’s greatest detective when he was just starting out. I picked up the game and started playing, immediately noticing the good, the bad, and the potential that was lost.
The Good: Gameplay and Gadgets
As far as the good things are concerned, the game feels very familiar to the previous two installments. If you’ve played those two, then you’ll feel at home with this one. There are some much-welcomed improvements as well. Batman kicks bad guy butt more smoothly and he can even use the environment to his advantage, such as bashing a thug’s face into a wall or pulling them towards a heavy object for impact.
The gadgets from the previous games are all there. You get the batclaw in the beginning enabling you to zip through the city with ease. You can throw three batarangs simultaneously, and knock out more than one opponent. The ice gun has been modified into a glue gun which you can use to keep enemies in place, repair broken pipes, and create bridges. You also get shock gloves which need to be charged in order to be used to their full potential. Keep hitting people while wearing the gloves, once charged, and you can even take down enemies with shields.
There are a lot of side-quests which you can do while completing the main story. The Riddler returns, going by the name Enigma, and you have to defeat him by collecting data files he’s using to blackmail people. You can defeat the Penguin by destroying hidden weapon caches. There are also a number of crimes happening all over the map and you can help the Gotham Police put a stop to them. This also improves your reputation with them.
The best thing is the improved Detective Mode. This time it allows you to collect evidence and then create holographic images that tell you how the crime or incident took place. You can even rewind the scenarios in order to fully understand what happened. This reminded me a bit of the memory scenarios shown in the game Remember Me.
Playing with Batman while he’s just starting out shows the character in a new light. Compared to the Batman seen in the previous two games, the younger Batman still has a lot to learn. During the cut-scenes, it’s fun to see that his interrogation skills still need some polishing. He also raises his voice a lot in order to sound intimidating. Though we get to see a relatively new Batman, it gives rise to a problem as well. The detective is still ‘raw’ and that’s why a lot of the combat is focused on fighting. The ‘stealth’ aspect from the previous installments is missing. There’s was no need for you to wait in order to attack. Just throw a smoke pellet in the center of the enemy group and pound them to the ground.
The Bad: Tedious Map and Plot
As far as the map is concerned. It’s huge! Like so huge that you have to call the Batwing in order to reach your desired location if you don’t want to fight numerous bad guys that you encounter on foot. The two major parts of the map are connected by a bridge. This bridge is a pain if you decide to cross it yourself. Fighting through enemies in order to get to the other side begins to feel boring when you have to do it over and over again. The advice I can give you is to try and complete as much of Enigma’s side quests in order to unlock the way-points from where you can access the Batwing. This will allow you to bypass the bridge.
There have been a lot of complaints about glitches in the game, such as data corruption, not being able to complete missions, and the AI getting stuck in corners, among others . The developers have apologized and have said they will be releasing a patch. I’m just glad I didn’t have to face any of those glitches except the deletion of a saved file with only fifteen minutes of gameplay.
The story isn’t as strong as the game predecessors, either. The whole ‘Bounty on Batman’s head with a one-night time limit’ didn’t catch my attention as much as I was expecting. After the fight sequence at the beginning of the game featuring Deathstroke, with the most quick-time-events I’ve ever seen, I felt ‘Batman: Origins’ losing its grip on me. I can see why it didn’t get as much critical acclaim as the rest of the series. It’s not because it’s a bad game. It’s just that there’s a sense of ‘incompleteness’ that comes along with it. Maybe I’m feeling this way because I’m comparing it with the previous two games. I loved Batman’s interactions with Catwoman and the Joker in Arkham City. The Joker does appear in the game, but it’s the start of the relationship we all have grown accustomed to. This game shows the start of how the Joker became the Moriarty to Batman’s Sherlock. Which is a highlight, but I found myself remembering the more mature interactions they had in Arkham City.
There’s also a Multiplayer mode in the game. However, it isn’t something to write home about. You get to play as one of the gangs during the fight between Joker and Bane, and you have to be on the lookout for Batman and Robin as well. It’s a fun feature but it didn’t grab my attention.
In conclusion, Batman: Origins isn’t a bad game. It has a lot of improvements, but the fans of the series will be left wanting more from the Caped Crusader.
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360
Release dates: October 25, 2013 (World Wide)
all images copyright warnerbros
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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