WB Games Montreal has Solomon Grundy size boots to step into sharing the Batman Arkham series with Rocksteady Games, the creators of previous hits Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City. Fortunately for comic and Batman fans around the world WB Games does a very formidable job adding to the Arkham lore and in crafting a new Batman game for us to play on their first shot at the Arkham universe.
Arkham Origins is unsurprisingly an important origin tale in the Batman universe. It is not however a Batman Begins tale of how the Bat became the Bat but rather the origin of how Joker and Batman become to be eternal sparring partners. The premise however is completely different, it is Christmas Eve and Black Mask puts out a $50 million dollar hit on Batman that draws out eight (mostly) iconic Batman villains. With so many big time enemies for Batman to face they don’t all get the screen time you might want but they do facilitate some of the most fantastic boss fights I have experienced in any video game. With a roster packed full of Batman universe stars like Jim Gordon, Barbara Gordon, Killer Croc, The Joker, Black Mask, Alfred Pennyworth, Deathstroke, The Riddler and many many more there are hours upon hours of fantastic Batman content to play through.
Arkham City has the most satisfying combat out of all the 3d action games I have ever played. It rewards controlled aggressive combat utilizing critical strikes to accelerate your path the freeflow combat mode where you can just go nuts striking down thugs all over the screen. Arkham Origins is basically a carbon copy of the gameplay engine that fuels Arkham City but with one major twist. Origins removes the critical strikes you are used to and replaces them with critical counters, granting you a double hit when you counter an attack right at the last moments. In the early hours of the game this definitely slows down the combat and makes it more methodical, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to me, just markedly different. You will later in the game receive an upgrade that grants critical hits whenever you strike an opponent while the gadget is activated, paired with critical counters that makes the combat more engaging than it has ever been. In the finals hours of the game they turn the combat engagements all the way up, with predator sequences having almost ten thugs walking around with guns and combat scenarios packed full with as many thugs as can fit on the screen. The biggest bummer about the Arkham Origins gameplay would have to be a lack of grapple points around the open world of Gotham. Not all building tops are grappleable for an unknown reason but that won’t stop you from flying around Gotham City with relative ease. The challenge rooms return with the same addicting score chase that Arkham Asylum and City had. Deathstroke as a playable character is pretty disappointing though, he plays extremely similar to Robin from the Arkham City challenge rooms.
WB brought in Brink developer Splash Damage to do the 3v3v2 multiplayer mode that Arkham Origins sports. There is only one mode at launch that is very much like the popular Spies vs Mercs mode from Splinter Cell. The 3v3 part of our multiplayer equation are two gangs full of gun-toting thugs, and the 2 player team are Batman and Robin. You level up and get new unlocks in the form of weapons and things of that nature for thugs and new skins for Batman and Robin. You get consumable boosts through Penguin supply crates that you buy with in-game credits earned through playing, however can also purchase in-game credits ala Mass Effect 3 multiplayer to accelerate the process. However all this information has been amassed from scrolling around the multiplayer menus. Finding a full game on PC has been a challenge for me with matchmaking being basically a complete failure. On the rare occasion I am able to match into a full game I just get stuck on an endless loading screen to go into the game. That doesn’t bother me at all as I purchased this as a single player game, but if you are looking for a great multiplayer experience I would maybe look elsewhere or at least wait for some matchmaking fixes to be patched in.
Arkham Origins on PC at first glance does look very similar graphically to Arkham City but it does have several notable improvements. The most major would have to be significant graphical improvements to cutscenes, they look to be much more clear and have much more fine detail. Also, they are much more numerous and WB Games Montreal is not afraid to take control away for around ten minutes and tell you a story. This is a large departure from the previous entries in the series as those have very short cutscenes and tell practically all the story through gameplay. Some people may not like the change that Origins brings in this regard, but I thoroughly enjoy sitting back for an extended period of time and enjoying the story being told to me. The city is also much larger than in previous games in the series with WB Games touting that Gotham City in Origins is twice the size of Arkham City. Famous Gotham landmarks like the courthouse, Wayne tower, the Sionis steel mill, and more reappear in Arkham Origins but it doesn’t feel like a Saints Row IV-esque reskin at all with the sheer density of detail in the city of Gotham.
Composer Christopher Drake has crafted a stellar soundtrack for Arkham Origins. It doesn’t have a Red Dead Redemption Welcome to Mexico moment but the soundtrack is strong all around. For my money I would say it is the strongest OST in any of the Arkham games yet. Another positive Arkham Origins has for your ears is that you won’t be barraged by the word “bitch” every other few words. I didn’t find it offensive in Arkham City but I did certainly roll my eyes at it. I’m not sure if you’ll only experience this with PhsyX jacked all the way up, but there are papers lying around everywhere in Gotham City, and Arkham Origins has by far the best paper shuffling sound effects I have ever heard. The voice acting is solid all around with Roger Craig Smith doing a respectable job as a young Kevin Conroy and Troy Baker steals the show with his performance as the Joker. Mark Hamill will be missed if he really does never return at the Joker, but we have the best possible replacement with Troy Baker.
One area where WB Games Montreal bested Rocksteady Games would be PC optimization. My humble gaming rig (GTX 660, i5 2400) can run Arkham Origins at its highest settings with all the PhysX and everything turned all the way up at a very comfortable framerate, bouncing between 30 and (usually closer to) 60. That is not the case for Arkham City. However it does have the most bugs I have ever encountered in an Arkham game. There is one Riddler tower that is currently unable to be taken over due to a universal PC glitch and I fell through the world twice in one ten hour playthrough.
Series like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed have worn thin on me due to yearly iteration. However, Batman: Arkham Origins still feels to be a very fresh experience even though at its core it is extremely similar to Arkham City. That is most likely due to me being much more interested in the Batman universe than I have ever been about games like Call of Duty and the like. That being said this is a game for people who are interested in the Batman mythos, if you like the movies, comics and games this new entry should not be missed. There isn’t much new to the formula with the biggest new feature, multiplayer being a huge miss but the single player campaign is the same combat you love with a fantastic new Batman tale.
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Batman: Arkham Origins Review – A Long Christmas Eve
Summary: It is as cliche as you can get, but if you are already a fan of the series this is a can’t miss title. The game is not without faults but it is still a brilliant action game with a story worthy of praise. I enjoyed nearly every minute spent with Batman: Arkham Origins.
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Tags: 3, 360, arkham, batman, origins, PC, playstation, ps3, requirements, review, score, settings, wayne, xbox
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Alex Myers I really seem to enjoy Street Fighter. Send me an invite on PSN/XBL/Steam at MethodMan008 and lets fight!
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One Response to Batman: Arkham Origins Review – A Long Christmas Eve
Michael Rose says:
October 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm
thanks alex. This may have sold me, here’s hoping to finding a cheap copy on black friday!
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