Batman: Arkham Origins Review
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Warner Bros. Montreal
Platform/s: Xbox360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U, PC
Batman: Arkham Origins isn’t really Batman’s origin story, but more of Batman’s adventures during his earlier days as the Dark Knight. Origins takes place two years into Bruce becoming Batman.
Since Arkham Origins is set two years into Batman’s birth, Batman is younger, angrier, brasher, tougher and a lot more brutal. Even Alfred tells Bruce to tone it down a bit and suggests he use a new gadget that he retrieves from the Batcave: the Concussion Detonator, something that wouldn’t hurt the cops too much. He also renders thugs unconscious when he interrogates them because of choking them too hard. Which I found hilarious by the way, because I can see his inexperience and that he hasn’t learned how to hold back yet. And everyone, literally everyone is against you.
Arkham Origins is just like Arkham City in a lot of ways. The map, the combat, predator, and even the gadgets and its quickfire controls. It feels great to be back trying to get Flawless Freeflows and going unnoticed in predator rooms. Combat and predator are both familiar but flawed. Getting lost in the map is not surprising due to its size. The story’s pretty straightforward and fast paced but not as challenging as Asylum and City.
The most noticeable difference between City and Origins is the map. Origins more than twice as big as City. What I love most about the map of Arkham Origins is that I’m seeing Gotham as Bruce sees it. She’s dark and violent but beautiful; she’s old and wise. I’m seeing what Gotham could be on a normal night for him. It also made me excited to see how Old Gotham looked like before the quake and before the water devoured that part of the city. Everything is all wintery and snowy, and Jezebel Plaza is decorated with lights that makes you feel like it’s already Christmas in real life. However, it’s a little bit disheartening that the map is bigger just for the sake of it being bigger; you can do the same things you did in Arkham City in the open world, and grappling up the buildings feel great, but it doesn’t really make me feel better that there are more buildings to run and leap on. This is where the fast travel system comes in handy. It is a lot of fun to watch, and very convenient. Because I am not gliding from New Gotham to Old Gotham. Also, it’s not fun getting shot every other building, you know. A lot of them thugs hang out on top of buildings carrying guns. Ugh.
Batman is also more heavily armoured and like Joker said in Arkham Asylum, “armed to the teeth.” There are new gadgets in his arsenal, too!
- Concussion Detonator.
- It’s pretty much like Robin’s Snap Flash, which disorients anyone caught in the explosion.
- Remote Claw.
- I thought this was really fun to use, especially when you’re making two thugs hit each other on the head, or making a fire extinguisher or gas can hit them. I prefer the Line Launcher though.
- Glue Grenade.
- It’s like the Freeze Blast from Arkham City, which can be used to cover up pipe holes that give out steam and can be used as a raft when thrown in water. I think this one feels a bit forced, because I think I’ve only used the Glue Grenade as a raft once.
- Shock Gloves
- It’s not a gadget, but is added to Batman’s suit. It’s amazing, and he becomes super powered for a while in combat. But I find it inconsistent with Asylum and City because, he could punch through shields and armoured thugs with it, why not use it through the whole series?
He’s also got the Disruptor that looks different from the one in Arkham City, but still works the same and can also disrupt those jammers, not only on the thugs’ backs, but also those that are on the wall, that block the Detective Vision. Yes, it’s Detective Vision now, not Detective Mode.
The new crime scene investigation/crime file system is amazing, too. We can still tell who that murdered person is through his fingerprints, and isolate particles and follow that blood trail, but there is the feature that lets you recreate the crime scene, and go back and forth reviewing the scene to get more information out of the crime scene. Fast forward and rewind to follow the red trail, and scan the thing that’s marked for you. But it’s nothing more than point and shoot or um, scan. Kinda like a flashier Detective Mode.
It’s also combat heavy, as if Batman doesn’t already kick and punch his way through the objectives enough. There are random goons, cops, SWAT, and Black Mask thugs at every corner that want Batman’s head. The added opponents, the martial artists, I think were a good addition. They can counter your counters, but of course you’re Batman, so they lose. There are also Mr Abromovich like opponents, one’s armoured a bit harder to take down, and another is a Blackgate prisoner which just requires some beatdowns. What I don’t like about the combat is there is no big sound like a BAM! when you make your winning strike.
There are also have a lot of villains. Black Mask puts a bounty on Batman’s head, a hefty $50M, and eight assassins try to kill him namely, Killer Croc, Deathstroke, Bane, Deadshot, Lady Shiva, Copperhead, Electrocutioner, and Firefly. I think these boss battles are what makes Arkham Origins. THEY’RE HARD, YO. SRSLY. Thank heaven there were checkpoints and I didn’t have to do it all over again! I think my favourite ones were Copperhead and Deathstroke. The Electrocutioner is quite shocking to say the least, Firefly is very hot on his toes, Deadshot has made his mark, and Bane will cause your misery and death. These villains shone and they pretty hell bent on trying to kill Batman.
And of course, the Joker. What’s a Batman story without the Joker, eh? He comes up at a double murder crime scene and Batman asks, “Who is the Joker?” Chills man. CHILLS. Like I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t Batman’s origin story, but the Joker’s. Joker’s story was told so well that the comic geek in me just screamed. Troy Baker did an amazing job as Joker, and he did a Mark Hamill impersonation really well. The youth in his rendition of Mark Hamill’s Joker was evident and you’d only notice that it’s not Hamill if you listen closely. We still see Bruce cry over his parents’ deaths, and while that’s enough to tug your feels, Bruce gets in a fight with Alfred, and oh my god, that made me cry. How could this game have made me cry?
The gameplay is good, even if it’s a bit buggy here and there. I play on PC so it’s a bit buggy. There are times where the thugs on the rooftops completely ignore Batman when he lands in front of them, or snipers that don’t move and aim at walls that you can’t takedown silently. I’ve encountered a bug during gliding as well. Batman kept switching from diving to pulling up several times in a second. I believe the most known glitch right now is the GCR tower at Burnley, where after hacking into a Riddler communication network, Batman won’t be able to climb up into the vent, and you’ll be stuck inside the tower. I can hear and see Gandalf now, ‘You shall not pass!’
Batman can also choose not to respond to crime in progress side missions. I expected Gotham to be livelier and that crimes in progress had something to do with saving an innocent bystander, but alas, most of these crime in progress I’ve encountered were only brawls between members of the SWAT team and a group of thugs. The radio announcement said that there was a storm so people had had to stay inside. Batman didn’t stay in and is a rebel like that. The disarmament Anarky’s bombs seems to be the replacement for running all over the map trying to answer Zsasz’s ringing phones in Arkham City. Riddler’s collectibles are there too, which I feel seems too forced, like a last minute thing added.
The voice acting was also superb. Troy Baker as I said did Joker justice. Roger Craig Smith indeed sounds like a brasher, more brutal Batman as compared to Kevin Conroy’s more experienced and held back Batman. He pulled a Christian Bale, ‘WHERE IS HE?!’ and that was really entertaining. And I loved how some of the thugs’ from both Asylum and City were back with new, more hilarious lines.
The music, composed by Christopher Drake, is amazing as well, but it didn’t have much of an impact on me as much as Nick Arundel’s compositions for Asylum and City. I believe that City had the best OST out of all three. Origins’ music does not make my heart race, or swear like a sailor, like City’s did, for example, if I get spotted and shot by Mr Freeze. But I loved the score, especially Joker’s theme, Carol of the Bells. Felt kinda creepy running through an abandoned Jezebel Plaza with Christmas songs playing in the background. One last thing about this OST: It’s like Hans Zimmer and Nick Arundel had a love child and named it Christopher Drake.
I’ve also been roaming around looking for DC Easter Eggs, and so far I’ve only seen three. They’re all in the Bowery in the Jezebel Plaza: The Flying Graysons poster, Zatanna Poster, and a shop for Blaze Comics.
I’ve read that WB Games Montreal bit off more than they can chew, and they did, but Arkham Origins is pretty damn good, even if it lacks the new ideas Rocksteady put in their games. It’s excellent. And I can’t wait to face Deathstroke all over again, and I love the youth and anger this Batman has.
PS. Watch the credits and stay until it’s done! A lot of things will be revealed and we shall be enlightened.