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Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Bruce Wayne, The Caped Crusader, The Dark Knight – regardless of what you call him, Batman has become a household name over the years. With the release of the third game in the Batman: Arkham franchise by publishers Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, is he set to become even bigger?

Batman: Arkham Origins takes us back to the very beginning; anyone who has played the first two, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, will be a little confused to find the story not continuing on from the cliffhanger at the ending of City. Instead, we’re starting out as the 'nobody'; a caped figure that thugs fear, police hate and the mastermind criminals want dead; specifically, the eight assassin’s hired by Black Mask to take down Batman on Christmas Eve.

You’re plunged into gameplay almost immediately, there’s no tutorial to play or any easy opportunity to learn your combat controls or gadgets; instead it’s learn as you go.

This isn’t exactly a bad thing though, you feel immersed within the first scene as you fight it out against a thug who gives you a short, yet sweet introduction into what the different combat moves can offer. From there, well you’re on your own. There are hints and tips along the way, alongside the traditional ‘focus points’ that the other two games specialised in. These assist those players who can’t quite work out the best advantage point to do a takedown and those who are experts in the game can easily switch off this function if they don't require it.

The combat style continues from the previous games; you gain experience from the combos you carry out, leading towards points for levelling up that, in turn, allow you to upgrade your weapons, armour or gadgets – a system I personally love. I’m more of a “detective” Batman than the all-out-brute-melee kind, (something my better half generally prefers) so being given the opportunity to level up through detective work and gadgetry is a bonus point for Warner Bros. Games Montréal and the design team.

Speaking of the investigative side of the game, hidden secrets must be discovered to help Batman gain further access to Gotham City and prevent his gadgets from being locked away by none other than the Riddler. A huge favourite for fans of the games have always been the Riddler trophies, and these continue to play a big part, though he’s aptly known as Enigma in Origins as he’s yet to be given his infamous nickname.

On that note, it’s a pleasant surprise to discover how closely written Arkham Originsis to the Batman lore and comic books it is based upon. There are a few parts in the story that the hardcore fans will pick at, but generally the designers have done a fantastic job for the script and graphical layout of Gotham City. The graphics are beautifully portrayed and bring to life the feel of the game, especially during the close-ups, such as when encryption solving; the finer details, from Bruce’s chin hair or the visible breath, which forms due to the cold temperature, really adds to the overall presentation.  

There are a few times where the voice acting does overlap, which caused some issues when trying to decipher where one mission leads to whilst Batman discusses the options for another, which required the use of subtitles to decipher.

However, it’s not all good news in this sequel. Yep folks, sadly on this occasion, it seems that the bulb of the bat signal has blown a fuse.

The combat system eventually becomes rather boring; the phrase “if it ain’t’ broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind a lot with this. Yes, I’ll agree it was nice to be able to know exactly what buttons do what - which combination of hammering the triggers will provide you with the hang glide take down or the multi-Batclaw wipe out, for example. However, this also means there is little ‘new’ to learn or explore, and it becomes repetitive rather quickly.

As soon as your armour is upgraded, which is quite early on in the game depending on which route you take for upgrading items, even when coming up against a pack of 20+ criminals there is very little difficulty to be found. Even just going for the ‘hammer and hope’ approach, which became my method of choice towards the end, was far too effective. I did enjoy the ability to swoop down on the unsuspecting though, as I glided over Gotham City, and the second stage of the Bane fight, where you had to use your brain or become toast (with Alfred kindly reminding you of this every two seconds) was also very fun. It was a refreshing change to the typical brawl methods experienced in the earlier boss encounters.

Once I’d played further into the story, the plot became mediocre at best, and very quickly. Though I applaud Warner Bros. Games Montréal for their emotional and psychological approach, the plot failed to surprise, despite attempted twists and turns, and the early introduction of a previously unannounced, unexpected antagonist.

The eight assassins had rather short screen time, although I did enjoy the Shiva and Anarky challenges; the need to use brains as well as brawn means potential failure at times, especially if you don’t plan your route for Anarky’s bombs. Bird, Black Mask and Copperhead were disappointing, due to the sheer lack of challenge to these ‘elite’ assassins fights, and Electrocutioner shouldn't have even been cast: what an appalling enemy – I was glad to see him come to such a ‘shocking’ end (I’ll see myself out).

The only one that proved a real challenge, and I was glad to see it wasn't just me experiencing this, was that utter, utter bastard Deathstroke. I almost lost my controller to him and it was the first time since my battle with Phantom in Devil May Cry as a young child that I could feel the nerd rage building; it was like all my Christmases came early when that cutscene came to finish him off. I can’t even imagine what he must be like on the hardest difficulty, something that one day, if I do conquer, will see me being led into a padded cell in a straitjacket.

Though the combat and story didn't meet the high expectations I’d set, as always the Enigma trophies hit the spot: some were difficult, others led to mental facepalming upon realisation of how easy they were to discover once you saw the puzzle from a different angle. Sadly however, even these can’t bring Batman: Arkham Origins to meet the high level of enjoyment and replayability its predecessors have. A number of game freezes and bugs, which Warner Bros. Games Montréal have acknowledged and are now starting to patch out, have marred the experience. This aside, the uninspired storyline and poor overall combat experienced has led to the Dark Knight being more of a chiseled-chin flop in a cape.

6.50/10 6½

Batman: Arkham Origins (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

Bruce Wayne, The Caped Crusader, The Dark Knight – regardless of what you call him, Batman has become a household name over the years. With the release of the third game in the Batman: Arkham franchise by publishers Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, is he set to become even bigger?

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Ross D. Brown

Ross D. Brown


Ross has been with GameGrin since February 2012 and acted as Site Editor until late 2014. He is also a proud Northerner.

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