Batman: Arkham Origins Review
✔Plays great, sounds good, plenty to do
✔New multiplayer mode
✘ Controls can be a bit finicky
✘ Occasional overuse of quick time events for bosses
Batman Arkham Origins Review (PC)
Batman: Arkham Origins, released on the 25th of October 2013, Developed and Published by the fine folks at Splash Damage and Warner Bros, does a great job of continuing the series. For this review, I’ll be explaining why I think this is the case by discussing what makes a return to the series, what’s new, especially the new competitive multiplayer, whether the gameplay, sound, game-time are up to scratch and of course, whether this game is worth your hard earnt dollars.
Now, quick spoiler alert, I will be covering a couple of minor things from the first hour of gameplay, so if you really want to go into this game knowing nothing, skip this paragraph. Ok, so after a quick romp through your standard prison break, you know the one, the usual beat up some dudes and rescue some hostages while learning basic game controls and fighting, fun times, the main premise of the game is set. It’s Christmas time, but Batman has no time for presents as you learn that Black Mask has hired a group of trained killers for an unknown purpose other than trying to put Bats into early retirement. So naturally your mission is to gain information, hunt down these assassins through the sandbox that is Arkham City and find out what they know.
Many old elements make a return to the series, those who have played the previous games will recognise many features here. Gadgets such as the explosive gel, batarang and rapelhook from the previous games in the series make a return. The stealth and combat system remains the same, you’ll be breaking through vents, dramatically knocking out enemies and fly kicking all over the place, as can be expected of the Dark Knight. Combat exercises make a reappearance, allowing you to replay through campaign levels or new combat scenarios while trying to meet requirements such as achieving a high combat flow combo.
Riddler, or “Enigma” challenges can be found yet again, providing relief from the main mission, extra background information and experience for those clever enough to solve them. The free roam of Arkham City is as good as ever. After the initial reveal, expect to be soaring around gliding over extended distances, exploring all Arkham has to offer and, in true Batman style, stopping crimes in progress. Experience and levels are also back, with a bit of a fancier UI but not much else new. As you beat up goons you’ll gain more armour, more exciting ways to use your gadgets in the midst of combat and some extra ways of taking out enemies in some of those trickier stealth situations.
The game has a combination of beautiful and depressingly gloomy looking parts to it, as expected of a Batman game. No major changes have been made to the controls, and the current set-up, on an Xbox 360 controller at least, still works very well. I played the game on PC, so there was the occasional rendering issue and I have heard of other gamers on consoles occasionally having Frame Per Second (FPS) issues on console, but overall the game is just great to look out. The boss fights are certainly exciting, although they are quite heavy on the quick time event button mashing, which can be a bit tedious after executing a button mashing pattern for the third time. There is also plenty to do here, so even if you rush through and manage to finish the game within a day, there are tons of side questing and even two, not just one, new game play throughs to do, with the last play through being appropriately dubbed, I am the night.
New features that have been brought to the table include new enemies, especially bosses, new favourites such as Alfred, Batman’s trusty butler making a physical appearance, and a new bat plane to help you access parts of the map via quick travel after taking care of the nearby jamming towers in the area. There are also a few new gadgets which mainly serve the purpose of allowing you to reach previously inaccessible parts of the map further into the game (also amusing to note how few of these gadgets make an appearance in the future/previous games!) The detective system has been revamped, it can be quite fiddley at times, but it now has a cool new rewind feature that allows you to recreate what happened at scenes of the crime, allowing you to find objects flung about such as security cards.
Another big change to the series is the inclusion of a new competitive multiplayer. Players can take the role of either the caped duo, Batman and Robin, or a gang member as part of Joker’s or Bain’s crew. As a gang member, your job is to defeat the other crew by taking control points and killing off the other members, who are given a set amount of respawns, in order to come out victorious. Depending on your side, it’s also possible to play the role of the main villains, Joker or Bain, if you’re the first player to get to the part of the map where you can request them to join the fight. During this gang fight, it’s up to Batman and Robin to work together in taking out as many gang members as possible in an attempt to fill up an intimidation meter, the more takedowns, the more the bar is filled, with a full bar representing a win for the good guys. However, a hero’s death causes this bar to drop, so the heroes must play a much more stealthy game. There appears to be levelling and unlocks for buffs in multiplayer as well, but this early on it’s difficult to tell whether this system is balanced.
Now an important question you’re probably asking yourself, is the multiplayer any good? Sure, it’s great to have the addition of a multiplayer mode to Batman, but on a personal note my first three sessions weren’t particular enjoyable ones. Getting into a game can be difficult, even on PC, as the absence of any real server browser is felt and a requirement for 8 players to start can be quite frustrating, although admittedly its still early days for the game. The main villains feel OP, even as I struggled with my controls despite watching several minutes worth of tutorial video, I was able to take down Batman, Robin and another gang member simultaneously as Bain, and that just doesn’t seem right. On the other hand, gang members and super heroes feel fragile, which is good in that it puts emphasis on stealth, but most victories are decided on who sees who first, and the average third person shooting mechanics don’t really go a long way in making this enjoyable. The multiplayer works and there are sure to be some people who have fun with it, but again on a personal note, I can’t see myself coming back to it when the single player is just so much better in comparison. I will note though, that the experience would most likely be improved through mic communication and working together with another friend.
So, in conclusion, both fans of the previous game installments and those new to the gaming series are sure to enjoy this. Everything looks and handles as well as the previous games and the new additions to the series are just icing on the cake. The story is interesting, villains are as menacing as ever, there is plenty to do and everything sounds the way it should. To top it off, you’ll probably be able to find the game at around the $50 – $70 mark depending on what platform you want it for and where you look, which is extremely great value for a game of this quality. The multiplayer may not be great, but it’s there and some people will probably get a few extra hours of entertainment from it. The only other issues I can think of is the occasional frustrations I had with controls, the amount of quick time events when facing bosses and perhaps a slight criticism on how much old content has been recycled, but most of these are just personal grievances, and hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Definitely worth playing for hero fans, or even just those of you who want another great action, adventure game to add to your end of year pile.
Check out the video review on youtube by clicking this link: http://youtu.be/ElKyq8HNe_c