Batman: Arkham Origins (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montreal
Release Date: October 25th, 2013
Review Basis: Warner Bros. Interactive sent us a review copy for the Xbox 360. I completed the game on the normal difficulty setting.
Arkham Asylum is one of my favorite games of all time. It came out in 2009, and was my personal Game of the Year. Remember, Uncharted 2 and Assassin’s Creed were also released that year among others, which made 2009 a phenomenal year for gamers everywhere. That said, when Arkham Origins was announced, I didn’t necessarily feel overjoyed with the news. I always thought that prequels were a bad idea and forced. Usually, a prequel comes around when companies run out of ideas and want to keep selling copies of a successful franchise. After having completed Origins, I can safely say that those worries were put to rest. While it’s true that Arkham Origins doesn’t offer anything new for veterans of the Arkham series, it’s still a worthy addition and one that should be experienced, especially if you’ve yet to play any of the other games in the series.
Have you ever read books like Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, or The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb? What about The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, the famed writer responsible for Watchmen? If you have, you know that Batman is one of the most interesting comic book personalities out there. The reason for that is simple, he has the greatest gallery of villains. No other comic book character comes close. WB Montreal did a fantastic job using all those awesome villains. The relationship between Batman and The Joker always fascinates me and they play on that very well. Here, Batman and Joker have not met yet. What happens when they do is brilliant. I absolutely adore their take on both characters. The Penguin is another foe handled extremely well, and even obscure characters like Deadshot are handled perfectly. For fans of the Dark Knight, Arkham Origins is worth every penny for its storyline alone. You can also put your fears to rest, Troy Baker is perfect as The Joker. At first, you won’t even realize that Mark Hamill didn’t reprise his role.
+ Predator missions are back and as fun as ever. These instances are the closest you’ll ever come to feeling like “The Bat”. The best parts of Arkham Origins is when the game encourages you to be stealthy and use Batman’s wide assortment of gadgets.
+ Excellent free-flow combat is back. Two new enemy types added as well, the martial artist counters your attacks while the venom addicts pack quite a punch.
+ New detective situations show a more forgotten side of Batman. He’s a detective at heart, and solving crime scenes is both exciting and visually stimulating. Only downside is that they don’t pose any actual challenge. It would have been fun to use some thinking to try to solve these crimes, instead of just scanning what’s already highlighted on the screen.
+ Lots and lots of content for those looking to invest many hours into the game. There are side-quests everywhere right from the beginning. These usually involve villains you won’t see in the main plot. Doing them adds some nice plot elements too. One in particular involves the Mad Hatter and is a blast to play through.
+ Fantastic experience points system where you can buy and upgrade equipment. It rewards you for playing well.
+ New Game Plus lets you restart a new game with all your previous equipment and exp. It’s a good excuse to replay the adventure and adds even more replay value to the package.
+/- I would have loved to try the multiplayer, however, I just cannot for the life of me join a match online. The game is barely a week old and already no one is online. If you’re plans were largely centered towards multiplayer, you might want to reconsider getting Arkham Origins as chances are, the online servers will be killed quickly for lack of activity.
– Open world concept means there’s lots of tedious traveling in order to reach new areas or return to previous ones. You can unlock quick travel spots, but to do so there’s some lengthy fetch-quests you’ll need to complete first.
– The grapple hook doesn’t work as good as it did in Arkham City. This makes those long sections where you need to go from point A to point B even more tedious than they already were. Sometimes, the option of grappling to a ledge will appear at the very last moment.
– Gotham City doesn’t feel alive. It’s Christmas Eve, yet the only people on the streets are thugs and cops. It might be justified towards the end, but this city feels strangely familiar to Arkham City.
– If you’ve played the Arkham series, Origins offers nothing new. The wow factor of encountering your first predator scenario in Asylum is lost here, as you’ve already experienced it in the two previous entries. Let’s hope they take a break and focus on a new character. There’s this certain “Superman” character you might have heard of who more than deserves a good videogame.
The feeling of freshness from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City isn’t found in Arkham Origins. Because of that, it’s a bit harder to recommend this one. Still, everything that made the first two Arkham games excellent is still here, the magic, the refinement, and the polish. It might not win any awards for originality, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be played. Heck if you, for some reason, haven’t experienced this series before then run out to your local game store and purchase Origins right away. For veterans of the series though, you might be a bit disappointed with the repetitive nature of Origins. For me, being a huge Batman fan was enough and the storyline more than warrants a play-through. Batman: Arkham Origins will not be in any Game of the Year discussion, but is still a very worthwhile addition to an already brilliant series.
Final Score: 8.0/10