Published on November 1st, 2013 | by Edwin Millheim
Batman Arkham Origins PS3 review
Summary: Feels like a long DLC at times but fun enough to be The Batman.
Title: Batman Arkham Origins
Developer: WB Montréal
Format: Reviewed on PS3
Reviwer: Edwin Millheim
The Batman Arkham series has been the bright spot in comic book games spotty to outright deplorable offerings. There have been so many hits and misses, it’s hard to believe the Batman series is holding its own. The big draw to these games is that however you cut it, they give you the feeling of being the dark knight. Taking on bad guys not only with relentless force and cool gadgets, but being a predator and working multiple targets up into a terrified frenzy before taking them out. It’s all there and we are thankful that a lot of what you know and love about The Batman is alive and well revisited and tweaked just enough to make it new. There are times it stumbles and almost seems to lose its way, then it comes back and makes you feel ecstatic that you stuck it out with our hero on this adventure
Batman fans will be pleased for the most part, while the game designers WB Montréal did not stray very much from the previous games there are enough new things and tweaks here and there that make it try very hard to be a solid game. The story line is there, and it feels great to play, but never reaches the pinnacle it obviously wants to reach. Not a bad game mind you, just not a truly spectacular game. It is fun in its own rights though, so do not mark it off. There is a lot I like with the game, even though it almost makes you feel like a very big add on rather than its own game. That’s not a bad thing mind you, because it’s still fun to be Batman.
The adventure takes place with Batman in his second year on patrol in Gotham. The Batman is not on good terms with the police at this point in his career, and while some of his techniques are close to what he eventually becomes, this Batman is perhaps a bit more brutal in his dealing. It’s Christmas Eve which gives a nice palate of snow, ice, and Christmas lights to play with around the city, it’s visually appealing.
We jump right into the action as The Batman finds out that Black Mask has placed a bounty on his head. A cool 50 Million Dollars. Assassins soon start showing up in Gotham out to collect on that bounty.
There had been some misgivings about the latest in the franchise being done by a new studio WB Montréal, but the studio is full of veterans so it is proven here in the game Batman Arkham Origins, that the fan beloved franchise is in good hands.
That being said, I was a little concerned in the opening mission. It places our hero right inside a building and the need to head down corridors and crawl through venting systems hits us in the face. It started to feel too much like a not so inspired add on. Then we soon head to the outside and find a map and world of Gotham that is huge. This is awesome as we get to see some all new areas, and we get to see familiar areas from Arkham City which look very different before it gets turned into an island sized prison.
Travel around the map is just as satisfying as always, with a few new twists. The batclaw now has a faster travel option where pressing the button multiple times reels in our hero PDQ. Using this Batman can bound off of the target point and go freeflow into a glide, and then do it again if an anchor point offers itself. Real good for getting across the city scape, only faster….. There is also a way to fast travel around the map for those that would like to skip gliding and grapple hooking across the city. There are fast travel points where we can summon the Batwing and get us to certain points in the city. The designers cleverly placed fast travel as a plot point with The Riddler, simply called Enigma in our first encounter with him…jamming the Batman’s signals that control some of his gadgets. Including calling up the Batwing (Aircraft), Batman can’t fast travel until he takes care of this problem….So there are missions in each map area to find the relays and destroy them so our hero can get around easier when he needs to using fast travel.
The game series continues giving the experience and feeling of being the Dark Knight. You are Batman. The feeling just does not get old. One of the things that was a little of a disappointment, though it is explained away in the story…is that the streets are a no-man’s land. The citizens of Gotham are no place to be found. Hidden away from the weather and the goings on of the night. It still would have been nice to see some traffic or regular folks you may have had to save from time to time. Not just thugs and criminals and good cops and corrupt cops roaming the streets and roof tops.
Game design wise Batman Arkham Origins delivers what it promised, along with twists and turns and cameos and a menagerie of villains. As Batman you pretty much have freedom of choice in what you pursue. Be it a side mission or the crooks and gangs running amok. The game unfolds and a lot more points of interest starts to show on your map of the city areas with side missions and smaller objectives as well as the main story objectives.
The combat system is as it was, with just enough added to keep it interesting. The free flow combat is alive and well. There are new enemies to test your skills out on. From brutes that are well armored against you, and then also martial artists that throw a spin into things and can counter some of your moves making things enough of a challenge to keep it interesting and exciting to take them on. It does not stray all too far in terms of the free flow combat which is a good thing, too much of a separation from what we know and love of the Batman Arkham series would have just be wrong.
Boss fights are here since our hero has to take on the assassins that are in Gotham to collect on the bounty. Boss fights and fights with the Assassins well known villains should have been a nice high point. Facing off against the well-known villains from the DC comic universe for a small part is an actual thrill.
At times things seem a bit rushed and nothing much is fleshed out with them. Would have been nice to have more meat to the story, more of the villains that would have been truly a menace.
Even so Arkham Origins at its worse still shines far better than many other super hero style games. These fights against each villain is a promise of fun. Adding some well needed variety to what would have been a same old romp. Each villain requires different strategies to defeat and each one has varying levels of how tough they had been to beat. So while we are served up some mediocrity here and there, it is served with plenty of icing to make it go down smoothly. Some of the fights can be tough, Not to worry though, training up is always helpful especially if you want to flow and be one as The Batman. There is a combat grading system and training area so players can practice up for boss fights and other encounters that take place being The Dark Knight.
Boss fight wise, I would have loved if characters like Deathstroke would have been more than the story time that was spent on them, making for a couple of rematches before a big showdown…. While very satisfying, it leaves you wanting more of the thrill.
I would say the only thing I felt a bit disappointed about in the gadget department was using the remote controlled batarang. In Arkham City it was always fun to throw it and have it come in from a different direction and the thugs would be freaking out and searching another area, many times in this latest game Arkham Origins…I used the remote Batarang had it fly in from another direction and whack a thug, only to have the whole bunch look up and know exactly where I was. Not sure what happened between the two games with this. Though when you do pull off some Bat stealth and start scaring the jeepers out of thugs, it is truly a treat.
Most of the gadgets players will be used to. Though the remote claw has extra uses here. Not only create a tight rope but to also string two bad guys together and yank them into each other. Or if you are feeling extra brutal, hook a bad guy as a target and an explosive barrel and watch the fun.
Crime scene or scanning for clues is back, but has been changed in a big way. Now it’s more scanning of the crime scene and piecing together what happened. Super imposed figures and items can be ran and or rewound to look at the event and often times find extra clues by way of seeing where an item may have fallen in the chaos. This in turn helps our hero figure out what his next steps are in the adventure. The utilization feels a little forced sometimes, even if it is a welcome change that makes the game fresh rather than a retread of what has come before.
The game looks on par with Arkham City and the color palate of a Christmas theme mixed with the darks and Christmas lights and snow make things a nice contrast. Graphics are nothing overly new, though nothing has been lost either. Batman Arkham Origins looks good. Sound and music and voice acting all are top notch as it has always been with the series.
The newest thing for the series is a multiplayer mode now. Players get a chance to be thugs of either Bane or The Joker, better yet there is a system where random players get to be Batman or Robin playing against the thugs. Sometimes you get to play as The Joker or Bane and use their unique attacks, it’s an interesting concept simple, but fun. There are not a lot of Maps at this time, I suspect there will be more maps released. Either way it’s a nice little mode to shake things up a bit when you want to go against other thinking players. And not just the games AI.
Batman Arkham Origins is solid Bat fun.
Have fun, play games.