Thursday, June 05, 2014

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

I got Batman: Arkham Origins for Christmas but only loaded it up and started playing last month. I'm about halfway through and I feel I'm mostly ready to give a review.

Too long; didn't read: Pretty good if you are a Batman fan but not as good as the first two.

Now, on to the details.

If you had never played Batman: Arkham Asylum or Batman: Arkham City (hereon in known as AA and AC, view my reviews here) then Arkham Origins (aka AO) is a very passable game. It captures the feel of being Batman and patrolling a city beating up thugs, investigating crimes, and defeating the occasional supervillian.

But in the context of the previous two games it comes away lacking. The environment is bigger in that you have all of Gotham city to explore, but it feels weirdly emptier than the smaller environs of the first two. Combat-wise it brings very little new besides fighting martial arts goons and mini-Banes hopped up on venom drugs.

The storyline looked promising at first but not even halfway through the game and its revealed that the big bad guy is ... wait for it... SURPRISE! Its not the Black Mask after all, its really the Joker!!

*groan* Again?

At least AC had an interesting dynamic of Dr Hugo Strange and Ras A'Ghul competing with the Joker-poisoned-Batman storyline, but AO appears to be simply Joker posing as Black Mask hiring a bunch of super villians to kill Batman. Yawn. To be fair, I'm only halfway in and there is room for something more but I'm not holding out hope. Like the strangely barren metropolis that is Gotham, the story feels like all facade and no depth.

As for the actual gameplay, there are a lot more glitches and lack of polish. The predator levels are unimaginative and the environmental puzzles simplistic. So far you play as no one but Batman which is actually a retrograde from AC where you got to try out Catwoman in a few places. So AA seems to bring nothing new or interesting to the franchise.

Well, one thing so far... the shock gloves I got earlier this week are tons of fun. There are many times in AC I would have loved having these things.

Overall its a passable game but nothing to write home about. Hopefully when the original studio that did AA and AC take back over the reigns with 2015s Batman: Arkham Knights that the series gets back on track.

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