One of the biggest surprises in film and pop culture over the past 10 years has been the revitalization of the superhero genre. Movies like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight series and Marvel’s The Avengers have swept box office records and re-instated superheroes as mainstream entertainment. On another scale, something similar has happened within this console generation in gaming. Rocksteady Studios came out of nowhere to completely change the way we think about superhero games and made us believe once again that these games could actually be great and no longer had to be mediocre movie tie-ins. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a fantastic dive into the psyche of the The Dark Knight himself, and showed gamers that there was a way to make superhero games, ahem, super. The follow-up, Arkham City, continued where Asylum had left off and added scope to the franchise with a huge open world ripe for exploration. After the launch of Arkham City, Rocksteady noted it was time for something new and announced that Warner Bros. Montreal would take over the reigns for the newest game, Batman: Arkham Origins.
You start Arkham Origins as a younger Bruce Wayne/Batman as he’s just getting the handle on the whole superhero thing. The game’s introduction showcases Bruce’s darker and less forgiving tone and eventually you discover that there is (shocker) something amiss in Gotham City. After investigating a break out at the prison you find that the man known as the Black Mask has escaped, and in doing so has decided to place a bounty on your head. Multiple assassins from throughout the Batman canon have been hired to converge on Gotham and take you out for a nice cash prize. Obviously this leads to some interesting situations and boss battles. The overall plot is solid throughout the 10 hours of main quest missions. It isn’t quite as well done as some of the previous games, but you will still be completely drawn in as Warner Montreal brings some of the coolest Batman characters into the mix. Don’t expect “The Dark Knight Rises” style of story, but it’s nowhere near the travesty that was “Batman & Robin” either. Arkham Origins is a solid tale surrounding a much more “realistic” Batman (in situational demeanor) that brings out the inner fanboy by showcasing a myriad of characters from the comics. If you liked Asylum and City’s plots then you’ll be right at home here.
The gameplay in Origins is as expected. It’s the classic Arkham game style of quick melee focused combat. Striking and countering at the right time is still heavily used and using certain moves on different enemy types is a necessity. The combat in the Arkham games has always been fun, and it doesn’t change here. As far as upgrades go Origins has some new items. You still upgrade Batman in a similar way using XP but there are now more options to choose from and you can dump points into one of three trees. One focuses on health/etc, one on combat and one on gadgets. I found myself (as usual) pouring points into my health, as I didn’t feel I needed a whole lot of upgrades on gadgets. The system is solid and works well, I just with there was more to do with the combat and gadget upgrades. Flying around the city is still a blast too, with Riddler trophies replaced by Assassin’s Creed-style Riddler-hacked towers to disable, and random crimes triggered throughout the city. It feels like there’s a bit less side content this time around for collectors, but there’s still plenty to do in Gotham City.
Overall Batman: Arkham Origins is a very solid game, with a few bugs and flaws. It stays true to Rocksteady’s original formula and if you liked the previous two games you’ll for sure like this one. The plot is solid and there’s enough content to keep you content for hours. I just hope that Rocksteady themselves is working on something that gives us the same feel as Arkham Asylum did, because another Batman game like this next year may begin to erode the fantastic franchise that they created, despite being a technically solid game all-around. If you like Batman and the past games, go buy this game. You won’t be too disappointed.
Batman Arkham Origins Launch Trailer