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Batman Arkham Origins (PS3) Review

 
Batman: Arkham Origins logo
Batman: Arkham Origins logo
Batman: Arkham Origins logo

 
At A Glance...
 

Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
 
Genre: , ,
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
7.5
7.5/ 10


User Rating
no ratings yet

 

We liked?


  • Wonderfully imagine world
  • Hits a lot of the high notes of the previous games
  • A lot to do and collect
  • Looks & Sounds great
  • Great cast of characters from the Batman Universe

Not so much?


  • Lacking the spectacle & atmosphere of the last games
  • Raft of minor technical issues
  • Tweaks to the combat system make it more frustrating
  • Far to many brawls descend in to button mashing drudgery
  • You may tire of the game before seeing all it has


Final Fiendish Findings?

At the end of the day, Batman Arkham Origins really only has the other two titles in the series as peers. The worst of the three Arkham titles is still the best of pretty much most others out there – slightly weird way of praising a game I know but Batman Arkham Origins still very much deserves your attention.

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Posted November 4, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Batman Arkham Origins is looking to follow-up arguably the two greatest licensed games of this generation – Batman Arkham Asylum & Batman Arkham City.  Without series creators Rocksteady at the helm can new studio Warner Brothers Montreal continue the franchise success?

Batman Arkham Origins looks to take you back before the first two games ever started.  Here we see a younger, moodier and more impulsive Bruce Wayne trying to cause as much trouble for the criminal underworld of Gotham City as possible.  That kind of thing will get you noticed!  So local villain Black Mask throws down the challenge – and a massive $50m bounty – to every bounty hunter in the land.  To collect the bounty is simple – deliver a dead Batman. Eight of Gotham’s finest step up to the challenge.

Once again you are set loose on the city of Gotham.  To be honest not that much has changed since we were last here two years ago with Batman Arkham City.  The streets are still deserted of anything other than cops, thugs and SWAT members.  No cars are moving, no pedestrians at all.  Reason being this time is apparently the city is observing a curfew for Christmas Eve.  Whatever the reason it still leaves the large expanse of Gotham City feeling like a ghost town.

batman arkham origins

Batman Arkham Origins does a wonderful job of parading some of the well know and not so well known (to lesser Batman fans) characters and villains in front of you over the course of the game’s 8 – 10 hour campaign.  Reserving the main villain encounters for end of area boss battles.  The city serves as a hub once again.  As you traverse the rooftops and alleyways you will make your way to a building or structure that you can then enter to continue to the next mission based segment.  As in Arkham City this works well but in Origins it feels a little more hotchpotch.  Areas don’t seem to gel as well and you really get a Hub/Level feeling about the structure that is far more obvious than before.

Each internal story mission normally equates to the same thing.  Traverse some corridors, open some grates/ducts, Take out rooms of guys using stealth and gargoyles, brawl guys, showdown with mission assassin/boss then escape back to the city hub.  It works well enough but it’s been done before and it’s been done a little better.

Combat this time out has been tweaked a little.  You appear to have a much smaller window with which to perform a counter action leaving this proves feeling a little flustered and clumsy.  This might not be as apparent if Batman Arkham Origins didn’t insist on placing you in larger and larger combat situations where you took on large groups head-on.  Quite often after an hour or so of play my thumb and wrist started to ache from the constant mashing of square and triangle… with a hint or circle thrown in.  The combat in previous games has been fluid and well balanced; this just feels a little off here.  Assassin battles can become quickly frustrating as you try and work out what combination of moves and Batman utilities will result in victory.

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Batman also has an array of toys in his arsenal.  Not only does he have the stock Batarang, Explosive Gel, BatClaw and remote control Batarang from the last games, he has access to some new toys too in the shape of Shock Gloves, stick glue grenades, electrical disruptors and more.  These area are a nice distraction but ultimately they’re inclusion is at the service of various environmental puzzles.  They can be used in combat, but rarely do they need to be with the exception of the Shock Gloves for certain boss battles.

Encounters net you XP and this then feeds in to three tech trees that you can expand for Batman.  This mainly involves increasing Batman’s resistance to melee and ballistic damage and tweaks to equipment.  As handy as these might seem only the suit upgrades are really useful – the rest feel a little underwhelming.

By far the most enjoyable parts of the game are the rooms where you take down groups of thugs using stealth and the Detective sections inside buildings.  Here you use some of Batman’s detecting skills – after all he IS a detective – to try and piece together what has happened at a crime scene.  As you build the evidence and scan things of note you build an outline image of the events in question.   This then leads to the ability to wind forward and backwards through the events that took place to try and piece together the final pieces of the puzzle and work out what had really happened.

There are plenty of side missions and collectables to keep you amused for many an hour thanks to the Enigma towers, hidden data packets, weapons drops, chemical site and so on to discover.  If that doesn’t sate your lust for more Batman then there’s a moderately entertaining multiplayer mode, courtesy of Splash Damage, that will help you kill a few more hours on the streets of Gotham.  The fairly unique 3 V 3 death match battle takes on some novel twists when two further players from your session will take on the roles of Batman and Robin.  It’s a nice fit and feels solid enough for a few hours of light online play.

Batman_MP

Batman Arkham Origins looks great, sometimes gorgeous, when in motion.  As you swoop around the city or trudge through snow laden streets it all looks dark and brooding in the way Gotham should.  Character animation is again spot on although the younger looking Joker is a little off putting for my tastes.  The gorgeous flowing combat is still a beautifully-brutal ballet, if only it was a little less button mashie and frustrating at times.  There are a few camera issues, one of them being in a boss fight when you need to dodge lots on a rooftop which was mighty frustrating!

The musical score is once again movie quality and helps lift the entire production up a notch towards triple A levels.  The new voice cast is mostly successful with Troy Baker cementing his new found star status with a wonderful Joker performance that literally channels Mark Hamill.  Batman is not as successful in my view, with the voice somewhere between the Bale Batman and the original animated series voice.  It’s delivered well but never really has the edge to it the Batman needs.  Other characters all do a wonderful job and the script is, for the most part, snappy and well delivered.

batmansensor

 

Final Thoughts

Batman Arkham Origins is a great game.  A solid platformer.  A solid action brawler.  A solid licensed product.  It’s not, unfortunately, the next step along in the series.  Feeling more like a Batman 2.5 than a true sequel it’s only things like the Hotel Royal mission that elevates it above the average.

Things don’t seem to hang together as well as they have in the past couple of games.  There are frequent frame rate drops, some rough textures, stutters in lighting, clipping and places where Batman can fall through or get stuck on level geometry.  It feels like a final level of polish is missing in places.

Batman Arkham Origins offers a larger chunk of the same to fans of both Batman the animated series, the movies and the previous two games.  It had a hard act to follow and I feel I’m damning it with faint praise here. The game is very enjoyable and Warner Games Montreal have done a great job stepping up to take over the series.

If you’re a fan of Batman then odds-on you’ll be picking this up regardless of what I, or anyone else, say.  You’ll be getting a whole load of Batman for your money and one of the more enjoyable action adventure titles on the market.  It just lacks that sparkle and edge that the other Arkham titles had, leaving feeling a little flat.

At the end of the day, Batman Arkham Origins really only has the other two titles in the series as peers.  The worst of the three Arkham titles is still the best of pretty much most others out there – slightly weird way of praising a game I know but Batman Arkham Origins still very much deserves your attention.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.