Review by Joe Naz (@Naz_islike)
Jingle bells, Batman smells… OF FEAR!!! It’s Christmas Eve in Gotham and Batman is the Santa the city deserves. He’s got a list a mile long and plenty of coal to dish out. We have an all-star cast of heroes and villains here in Gotham, so let’s have the Bat plane drop us off so that we can explore Batman Arkham Origins!
This game takes place two years into Batman’s career as a crime fighter in Gotham and five years before Batman Arkham Asylum. It’s an early look at a Batman who still hasn’t completely controlled his emotions on the battlefield as opposed to his later years. So here’s the skinny. A notorious villain called The Black Mask has put quite the considerable bounty on Batman’s head – $50,000,000 to be exact. This bounty is good for one night only and must be brought to Black Mask by dawn. This hit has attracted some of the world’s most deadliest killers such as Copperhead, Bane, and Deathstroke just to name a few. Each assassin wants Batman and is willing to sacrifice the good people of Gotham in order to gain his attention. So while Batman has to deal with the bounty on his head, he has other villain’s out and about causing havoc in Gotham. It’s beginning to look a lot like Batman is going to have a long night!
The game play is pretty much the same as it was in the past two games. A new addition to add to the frustration of fighting twenty thugs at once is the inclusion of a martial artist fighter. Start getting used to double counters when you see them or they’ll come bring the pain. The game still feels like an old school beat ‘em up at times, so if that’s your thing then you’re gonna be right at home, pal. My one complaint is the stealth gargoyle fights. Stealth is one of my favorite parts about being Batman. I love feeling like a predator, slowly picking off what is left of Major Dutch’s elite team of warriors, but after the dozenth time of doing stealth gargoyle, it starts to feel pretty stale. Every building, sewer, or factory I am lead into I know that deep down inside I’m going to be lead on to do this damn thing over again.
The boss encounters exercise a rich range of how the hell do I beat this. Some rely on brute strength, counters on counters on counters, and some rely on your stealth and patience in order to triumph. The boss fights range in difficulty. I found some of the boss battles to be easy enough that I didn’t die, on the other hand, there are fights where I may have cursed to the high heavens, and may or may not have slammed my fist on my keyboard. *Cough* Deathstroke. *Cough*. In the end though, it’s for the best. There is nothing like finally delivering the devastating blow to your enemy and watching them finally crumble.
The setting of the game of course takes place in Gotham City, USA. While in Batman Arkham City we were restricted to just Arkham City, we have a bit more room for Batman to play in. We have Old Gotham (Arkham City is later built upon this area) and New Gotham. Both areas are plastered in Christmas decorations, thugs, villains, cops, datapacks (This games version of Riddler trophies) and so many easter eggs it will make you question how much you really know about Batman. At first I was a bit tired of Gotham within the first two hours of playing the story. It feels empty without seeing people walking around or cars driving on the streets. I think Gotham deserves more life breathed into it, like more civilians walking around – even if there is a bounty on Batman’s head. My second wind in Gotham came when I really started to notice all the hidden treasures and side missions that lead you into every nook and cranny in this game. You have Ace Chemicals, the company where the Joker was birthed. A Batarang throw away you have the Monarch Theater, the last known place where Thomas and Martha Wayne were seen alive. The more I looked around, the more I realized that Gotham is just like New York City… It all can’t be seen or done in one day.
The main storyline is the only thing I have completed in this game (so far) so I’ll stick to talking about that. I have my ups and downs with the story. The good is: I truly did enjoy it. It was fun fighting against foes that many would consider to NOT be part of DC’s most known villains. They were both challenging and freighting at the same time. We have an early Batman who has not established a trusting relationship with Captain Gordon, Alfred is still not 100% on board with Bruce on this adventure, and Batman is still seen at this point as an urban legend to most of Gotham. With all of this combined, it feels damn good to feel like I’m playing something out of one of my favorite stories – Batman Year One. My one gripe with the story is what we’ll call “the reveal”. Turns out the Joker is behind this and is gaming up to take down Gotham. I’ll be the first to say that I love The Joker as much as the next person but I could really have done without him taking the main stage in Batman this time. I’ve seen him leading the show in the last two games; I was really hoping someone else would get a chance to grab the mantle. I will say that while Mark Hamill doesn’t voice The Joker this time around, you can take comfort in knowing that Troy Baker (the voice of Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite and Joel in The Last of Us) takes the heavy job and does an absolutely phenomenal job.
Game score 7/10
Overall I really did enjoy Batman Arkham Origins. While it did have some things I didn’t see eye to eye on, it was a well-made game. If you’re a fan of the Arkham Universe, you won’t regret purchasing this game! Stay tuned as this isn’t the final review of the game. Next update on this article we’ll take more about the side missions and challenge mode!
If you enjoyed this article then you may want to check out the link at the bottom for a short list of some of the easter eggs I have found in Batman Arkham Origins.