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Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins

Nintendo 3DS | Nintendo Wii U | PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: Warner Bros. Official Site: http://www.batmanarkhamorigi...
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interac... Classification: M15+
Release Date:
25th October 2013
Batman: Arkham Origins

Genre: Action
Developer: Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://www.batmanarkh...
Publisher: Warner Brothers ...
Classification: M15+
Release Date:
25th October 2013
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Batman: Arkham Origins Review
Review By @ 06:00pm 25/10/13
PS3
As far as uninspiring, flat-out concerning names go, Batman: Arkham Origins is a doozy. It’s a strange name for a game that isn’t actually set within Arkham, nor developed by the team behind the first two Arkham games. Worse still Batman’s origins are well catalogued at this point, between the recent films, the current ‘Zero Year’ run in the comics, and Frank Miller’s iconic ‘Year One’. It’s a relief then to discover that Origins is actually set two years into Batman’s career, and is intended as a sort-of backdoor origin story for another character, albeit one heavily cribbed from a certain popular Batman book (I’m being vague to avoid spoilers here). If you’ve been fearing the worst ever since the whole endeavour was announced (as I sort-of have), Arkham Origins is a relief altogether, even if it never reaches the heights of its predecessors.

Arkham Origins’ quality is largely down to the quality of its mimicry. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Arkham Origins is a big showy proposal delivered during a Super Bowl half-time show. Arkham Origins never, ever tries to be better than City. It’s an extremely conservative game, in terms of both its gameplay and its politics (more on that in a bit), playing things right down the line and replicating proven experiences from the previous games. A few details have been added or tweaked, but the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ philosophy at the game’s core is always clear. The good news here is the Arkham series was so very far from being broken that WB Games Montreal comfortably get away with this.



The plot set-up is simple. Black Mask has put out a $50 million bounty on Batman’s head on Christmas Eve, a grab-back of villains have been identified as potential assassins, and ol’ Bats decides that Alfred’s Christmas ham can wait until he’s gone out and made the streets of Gotham safe. This premise signals a structure that isn’t quite followed through on, as Batman spends little time actively tracking these assassins, but there’s a general understanding at all times that simply blazing forward will bring you into contact with his enemies sooner or later.

In theory, giving us a prequel after City’s wonderful ending seems like a bit of a cop-out, working out of the interesting corner the series wrote itself into rather than going about the more difficult but potentially satisfying task of tackling the aftermath of that game’s events. But even if it doesn’t aim high, Origins works as a Batman story. It provides a neat set-up for the events we’ve already witnessed, and gives some great insights into which pieces of the comic’s mythology have been brought into the Arkham universe. The script is serviceable and well performed by the cast, although there are occasional missteps (Jim Gordon in particular is a bit of a bore).

The action has moved into Gotham proper this time, which is theoretically a cool idea. Batman stories occasionally lose sight of what it is that draws Bruce to save Gotham, but Arkham City put the importance of Gotham’s safety front and centre as it drew to its conclusion. The steady expansion of the previous Arkham games made it feel as though Rocksteady were gradually working their way up to inserting their hero into a proper living world where not everyone is out for his blood. Alas, Arkham Origins happens inside a bizarro version of Gotham, where the streets have been taken over by goons and corrupt cops. There’s no one on the streets on Christmas Eve, no celebrations, no carols, no nothing. It’s an enormous wasted opportunity, one that further solidifies the true goal of the game – to replicate Arkham City as much as possible.



But while the city may be a disappointment, it’s a disappointment packed full of stuff to do. There doesn’t seem to be as many sidequests or hidden objects in this game as there were in the last one, but by any reasonable measure Origins is still absolutely stuffed with side activities outside of the main mission. The Riddler, bless him, is as proactive as ever, packing every exterior and interior location with enough objects to keep completionists going for an absurdly long time. A city with some breath in its lungs would have been nice, but what we’ve ended up with isn’t without merit.

The highlight of the Arkham games has always been the combat, which remains the case here. Rocksteady’s fighting system is beautiful, and the decision by the developers to leave it largely untouched was a wise one. The electro-gloves from the Wii U’s Armoured Edition of Arkham City make an appearance, but other than that changes are limited to a few enemy types that I didn’t recognise and slightly smoother animation. The experience and upgrade systems allow you to gradually get stronger and unlock new moves, which make for a nice sense of progression, and getting into a good state of flow as you rain blows down is as satisfying as ever. The ‘predator’ encounters – which involve entering a room full of armed men and taking them all down as quietly as possible – are exceptionally familiar, but the formula still works... although if you’re like me and tend to use the same effective strategies over and over, they can start to feel a bit humdrum. The separate score-based challenge maps are back as well. They’re more of the same, really, but the enthusiasm this series attracts guarantees that there’s an audience out there that isn’t yet tired of them.

But as great as the action is, Arkham Origins is noticeably less polished than its predecessors. The core engine holding all three Arkham games together may be rock solid, but Rocksteady simply had a better grasp of the design principles. The grapple’s range seems to vary wildly on a situation by situation basis, which can occasionally make exploration a chore. The missions don’t take you through many interesting locations, the checkpointing is occasionally horrendous, and waypoints and level designs frequently make the way forward unclear. I also encountered numerous glitches that forced checkpoint restarts, including one that seemed game-breaking and which was only resolved on my fourth attempt.



Despite some nice cutscene work, this Batman occasionally feels closer to Frank Miller’s abusive arsehole Batman than the conflicted Dark Knight he’s most commonly depicted as these days, which would be fine if the game didn’t lack nuance in its portrayal of the character. This won’t be a big issue for everyone, but the sheer effectiveness of intimidation and torture in this game wore me down. There’s a way of doing this and making it work, as the best Batman tales often do, but it’s a shame that the World’s Greatest Detective always gets his results by punching men in the face.

It’s worth mentioning that the game contains a multiplayer mode as well, which we didn’t get to test out yet. It hasn’t been considered for this review, but for what it’s worth it sounds like an interesting, albeit slightly unwieldy, addition – two teams fight it out with third person shooter controls, while ‘hero’ characters stalk them out, trying to win by building up an ‘intimidation’ meter. Whether the shooter controls hold up is anyone’s guess.

For all its faults, Arkham Origins lives up to the prestige associated with its name. It’s easy to be negative about it, simply because everything it does well the previous games also pulled off splendidly, but the fact is that if the other Arkham games didn’t exist this would be the best Batman game ever by a mile. Best case scenario, Arkham Origins is a well-meaning squeeze of the cash-cow’s teat designed to tide over fans and keep the franchise visible in the public eye while Rocksteady work on something truly special for the next generation of machines. This is the shady reality of the Triple A games industry, but we’d be damn lucky if every B-studio was turning out work this solid.
What we liked
  • Stays faithful to the series it is building on.
  • It may be an obvious standby product, but it’s fleshed out and enjoyable.
  • Some great combat scenarios.
  • Plenty of secrets to hunt down.
  • A few neat nods to comic fans.
What we didn't like
  • Even by Batman standards, the game glorifies intimidation and torture a bit heavily.
  • Wasted opportunities with Gotham.
  • Lacks the design consistency of Rocksteady’s work.
More
We gave it:
7.8
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
trog
Posted 06:26pm 25/10/13
Looks good and sounds good. I'm still keen to play it, but as with all primarily single player games I find it hard to justify buying it at release and would rather wait a bit for the sales. I am not married to Rocksteady and just like the idea of being the Bat and bashing bad guys, which was what I really enjoyed in the previous games (the only SP games I've bothered playing aside from the GTA series in about 10 years).
Eorl
Posted 06:36pm 25/10/13
Its actually $49.99 on Steam trog, no Australia tax at all which is a nice change.

This all sounds like what I expected from Warner Bros. Montreal. Not quite the Rocksteady name, but still good enough that it carries over the Batman experience. Just a shame my Definitive Edition got delayed!
ravn0s
Posted 06:43pm 25/10/13
it's $37.50 off GMG (steam key) if you use their 25% off voucher which lasts until 1am tonight. i'm loving the game so far.
Nerf Stormborn
Posted 06:58pm 25/10/13
I think with the previous two, they had no Australia Tax initially, then both got re-priced a week or so later.
copuis
Posted 07:20pm 25/10/13
I think with the previous two, they had no Australia Tax initially, then both got re-priced a week or so later.



yup, it was a case of get on early then a week or two after being abe to be bought the local distro house chucked a wobblie and the price went up
ravn0s
Posted 07:47pm 25/10/13
adam sessler's review:

Snakeman
Posted 08:22pm 25/10/13
$24.95 on cdkeyshere.com. Worth checking out. Seems to be the cheapest I can find !!!
Eorl
Posted 08:39pm 25/10/13
These cinematics are gorgeous. Much more polished than past Arkham's and the combat is a bit faster due to Batman's younger age which is great!
glynd
Posted 08:56pm 25/10/13
$25AUD from cdkeysdirect.com
Fixah
Posted 08:56pm 25/10/13
That's legit?
glynd
Posted 09:02pm 25/10/13
I've bought about 6 games since 2011 from there with no hiccups (FIFA, Space Marine, Farcry 3, etc). Arkham Origins CD key worked on steam no problem.

I pay via paypal just to be safe regardless. upside of the site is CD key is instant, no waiting. Not the greatest website design though :P
Fixah
Posted 09:14pm 25/10/13
cheers bud, will be getting it from there and reporting back.
glynd
Posted 09:15pm 25/10/13
np mate
Fixah
Posted 09:27pm 25/10/13
Seems all legit, got the CD key instantly, downloading now!
ravn0s
Posted 11:22pm 25/10/13
i couldn't stop laughing at how easily Spoiler:
electrocutioner
went down when you first meet him.

last edited by ravn0s at 23:22:39 25/Oct/13
ravn0s
Posted 10:24am 26/10/13
that deathstroke boss fight has to be the most intense boss fight i've ever seen.
Hastarin
Posted 07:45am 28/10/13
I'm surprised you didn't mention the new grading system?!

For those that don't know every fight/encounter now gets graded from S down to D with associated XP percentage multipliers for anything about a D. It's a bit like the scoring bonuses you'd get in the Challenge modes of Arkham City, and they're still there too, but for every fight/encounter in the game which I personally found makes you care a bit more about your performance in your run-of-the-mill encounters.

Some folks will hate being reminded of how average their gaming prowess may be but on the whole I'm enjoying it as a means of reminding me I can probably improve my fighting skills a bit more and can definitely add some variety to my fights.
Malthius
Posted 11:57am 28/10/13
Lacks a lot of polish - I keep coming up against map bugs that are just incredibly irritating in a game that is largely about moving around the environment. I've lost count of how many ledges where I can't pull myself up because there is an invisible wall, but if I move across a little I can then pull up easily. I've had at least one time where I've had to reload from the last checkpoint because I couldn't get out of an area.

I'm currently stuck on the Copperhead fight - it is just incredibly irritating. I thought the Deathstroke boss fight was irritating, but this one is just the ultimate pain in the ass.

I think the reviewers have been far to kind with all the "It is only bad relative to the first two games" line. It is a game that clearly needed another month or two of play testing and polish.
Eorl
Posted 12:04pm 28/10/13
Yeah there has been a few invisible walls, one I found outside of the GCPD which irritated me because I could bypass it simply by zipping up then jumping over. I haven't had anything super game breaking though, only "glitches" and even those are limited to a enemy getting stuck but somehow fixes itself.

Honestly, loving it to bits. Great Batman, well improved over the other two which is pretty crazy considering Rocksteady aren't handling this. I had my doubts when I first heard the news that they weren't in on this project, but so far my fears have been quelled. Its a Batman game through to its core, and a lot more open-ended than City was. I may also be biased because Batman is just awesome.

Oh, fights are way more intense now due to being younger and more zippy. Makes for a much more interesting fight style.
Khel
Posted 03:14pm 28/10/13
Fighting feels exactly the same as Arkham City to me, can't say I notice any extra youngness or zippyness to it. In fact, the whole game feels exactly like Arkham City, but I don't really mind, cos it was one of my favourite games of all time. It is a bit weird that he has more gear now than he does in Arkham Asylum, and that he already has stuff now that gets delivered to him as new prototyps or has to discover in Arkham City, but I'm willing to let it slide, they obviously erred on the side of good gameplay and thats pretty much always the best choice to make.

Best new addition imo is the crime scene analysis stuff, thats really cool.
Mantorok
Posted 04:17pm 28/10/13
The only prototype gear that shouldn't be in Origins is the grapnel boost, and the game would suck without it.
Malthius
Posted 04:42pm 28/10/13
Best new addition imo is the crime scene analysis stuff, thats really cool.
Agreed, that felt like a really clever addition. Detective mode in the other games just felt like predator mode.
ravn0s
Posted 07:29pm 28/10/13
I'm currently stuck on the Copperhead fight - it is just incredibly irritating. I thought the Deathstroke boss fight was irritating, but this one is just the ultimate pain in the ass.


use explosive gel. it will stun the real copperhead and destroy the fake versions.

It is a bit weird that he has more gear now than he does in Arkham Asylum


well, some of the gear is appropriated from the villains.
Eorl
Posted 09:16pm 28/10/13
I gotta say Troy Baker's Joker is really growing on me. Doesn't have that same sadistic laugh but its done really well.
ravn0s
Posted 09:40pm 28/10/13
the whole joker part of the game was awesome.
Eorl
Posted 10:55pm 28/10/13
the whole joker part of the game was awesome.

Heh, Spoiler:
I wish we had more of the Joker fighting, that was really well done. Also setting up Harley Quinn was exceptionally awesome and boy is it just very well done for Joker's story. Couldn't help but have a huge smile on my face that entire sequence.
ravn0s
Posted 01:32am 29/10/13
well just finished the game and thoroughly enjoyed it. i'm going to go through and get the rest of enigma's data packs to finish his story.

make sure to sit through the first 5 mins of the credits. also, there's a scene at the end of the credits that's probably setting up some DLC, a sequel or a spin off game featuring the Spoiler:
suicide squad.



last edited by ravn0s at 01:32:23 29/Oct/13
Khel
Posted 10:17am 29/10/13
So Enigma is Riddler right? I mean, thats the obvious assumption and the obvious conclusion based on the name but with his suit and tie outfit and all the computers around him I was wondering if its Calculator. If its the Riddler, then hes pretty damn stupid for using exactly the same puzzles in Arkham City as he did in this one, and expecting to outsmart Batman with them when he already knows the answers.
Eorl
Posted 11:31am 29/10/13
So Enigma is Riddler right? I mean, thats the obvious assumption and the obvious conclusion based on the name but with his suit and tie outfit and all the computers around him I was wondering if its Calculator. If its the Riddler, then hes pretty damn stupid for using exactly the same puzzles in Arkham City as he did in this one, and expecting to outsmart Batman with them when he already knows the answers.
Enigma has always been The Riddler, was a homage to his real name, Edward Nigma. I've encountered puzzles of similar taste, but there are some variations compared to City. Honestly haven't really bothered yet, doing story first then hitting that 100% goal.
ravn0s
Posted 11:38am 29/10/13
i can't wait to see what a next gen batman game will look like. maybe truly open world with all of gotham city accessible?
Fixah
Posted 12:20pm 29/10/13
Just finished city again before starting to play Origins and damn it is going to be hard to top off. So far the combat feels more brutal and amped up than city but other than that it feels like im playing the same game..

By the way i still have some arkham city postcards sitting here back when I ordered a whole batch of Arkham City copies.

batman-arkham-city-video-game-card-set.j

If you're interested in pickup from Calamvale let know, othewise can post em out to you for $5. You get the 6 collectibles inside a batman postcard cover type thing as pictured above.
Khel
Posted 12:15pm 29/10/13
I've encountered puzzles of similar taste, but there are some variations compared to City.


The ones that are in the parts of the city that were in Arkham City seem to be the exact same puzzles in the same place, just without riddler ? marks painted on them. I guess I was just hoping there was a twist to it and it wasn't so blatantly obvious.
ravn0s
Posted 09:23pm 29/10/13
Enigma has always been The Riddler, was a homage to his real name, Edward Nigma.


i completed enigma's mission and it looks like he Spoiler:
does become the riddler, but edward nigma is not his name. his name is edward nashton and he works for the GCPD cyber crimes division.


last edited by ravn0s at 21:23:20 29/Oct/13
DM
Posted 10:33pm 29/10/13
I was on the fence about this game and wasn't really feeling it until Joker showed up then it totally switched gears and I found myself loving it and urging myself on just to see what happened next. Loved that it was also set up how Joker became fixated on Batman in the first place. The whole tower level with the joker was fantastic I thought with Batman slowly becoming aware of how crazy and different this new guy really was. Harley being introduced was a great touchalso . Deathstroke was by far the most epic boss of the game to fight, but Copperhead has some pretty funky and great looking manoeuvres in the cutscenes and while fighting.
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