Batman: Arkham Origins [Review]

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Nov
1
2013

There was the review for the mobile version, but this is now the big one. The Batman Arkham series seems to have become a bi-annual release. With that consistency in development also comes consistency in quality. Some people who have played this game may think that it could be a tad bit too consistent in that regard, but at least the game is still good. Few things can ever beat the feeling of being Batman, and this game proves it to still be true.

Batman: Arkham Origins is the third game in the franchise by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, although this was developed by Warner Bros. Games Montreal and not Rocksteady Studios. That does make for some reason to worry since the series creators didn’t make this one, but everything is cool since Warner Bros. Montreal did a pretty good job with this one. The game still feels like a Batman: Arkham title should and includes the things that made the first two games great.

The same goes for the story, with Paul Dini no longer having a hand on this one, but instead had Assassin’s Creed series writers Corey May and Dooma Wendschuh who came up with a plot that is just as solid and engaging. Batman’s voice actor is Robert Craig Smith, who also voiced Ezio Audiotore in the Assassin’s Creed II series. Later on, you will also see other things that remind you of Assassin’s Creed, although it’s not really a bad thing in this game (mostly).

This game is a prequel that features Batman just a few years into his self-imposed tenure as the Caped Crusader. Most of Gotham City still don’t know if they could take the crazy masked vigilante seriously, but the underground sure do. Black Mask took especially high interest in his elimination, so much that he puts up a grand bounty on his head in hopes that one of the many great criminals and assassins would bring it on a silver platter. This brings along a lot of supervillains that DC Comic fans will recognize, from the classic Batman villains like Joker, Penguin, and Killer Croc, to others like Deathstroke, Lady Shiva, and so on.

You still get the trademark combat system of the Batman: Arkham series, as well as the various gadgets at Batman’s disposal. The singleplayer campaign has a well-written storyline that pits Batman against the worst of the worst that infests Gotham City, good enough to play this game for, even if you’re not really a fan of the gameplay. There’s also a multiplayer mode, but it’s also like that of Assassin’s Creed. It’s still interesting enough to play with gameplay modes like Invisible Predator Online that pits a team of Batman and Robin against two 3-man teams of bad guys.

The chronology of the Arkham series speaks for itself. Batman: Arkham Asylum came out in 2009 as the best superhero game ever made and even one of the best action games of its kind. It introduced an excellent combat system and great storytelling that makes you really feel how it is to be Batman who is up against all these powerful villains. Arkham City did much of the same and even gave a shocker of an ending. Arkham Origins also does much of the same, but perhaps that’s where it falters this time. It’s still excellent, but the core gameplay is starting to show its age.

Once players get settled in, they feel almost exactly the same as they did with the first two games. There is little to no change in its core mechanics, from the combat itself to stealth and exploration. The environment, while large in scale, does little more than just be window dressing without the life that is now expected from a supposedly open world game. It also features something that fans of Assassin’s Creed will recognize, which is the need for Batman to take control of radio towers in order to access the surrounding areas on the map and make use of fast-travel locations. It must be a Canadian thing to make games with that kind of gameplay mechanic, but it’s to be expected with a team that had many of its members being previously involved in that game.

All in all, not much has changed in this third iteration of the series. But perhaps that may be what fans want as well. When Batman fights, it’s all about staying in motion by hitting from enemy to enemy and being able to hit the counterattacks when they become available like in the first game. As for stealth, you can take the easy way by going up ledges and looking for takedowns. At the very least, the boss fights are much more engaging in this game as they are actually fights, unlike the quick time events and fixed pattern encounters that the first two games had. There is also more thought put into them, unlike those like Joker’s Titan-fueled boss fight in the first game that turned a cunning and deceptive opponent into a mere brute.

While this game is the weakest so far in the franchise, it’s deficit in quality is not by much compared to the first two. Perhaps it’s alright since it’s a prequel anyway. If there is to be a fourth game, then we should really expect great improvement and innovation, lest the Arkham series suffer the same fate that many other cash cow franchises have before it.

Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10

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About Avoiderdragon

I'm a freelance writer and a borderline hardcore gamer. I contribute game reviews and other content here in CheatMasters for my fellow gamers.
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