- Platform: Xbox 360(reviewed), PS3, Wii U, PC
- Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Developed by: Warner Bros. Games Montréal
- Genre: Action Adventure
- ESRB Rating: T For Teen
- Number of Players: 1, Online Multiplayer 3-8
- Release Date: October 25th, 2013
Batman Arkham Origins was a game that didn’t excite me the way the other Arkham games did. I don’t know if it was because the game was being made by a new developer and not Rocksteady, or if it had something to do with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill not coming back to reprise their roles as Batman and The Joker respectively. Something seemed off about it right from the start. That being said, I went into the game ready for anything. I left the game still a bit unsure as to what my final thoughts on the game would be.
I’ll start with some obvious things, the graphics are improved if only slightly. These consoles are pushing 7 and 8 years respectively and it’s hard to get much more horsepower out of them, but WB Montreal does a fine job of pushing the hardware to the limits with the game. Batman and the other characters all look brilliant, I love that Batman’s suit isn’t what we’re used to seeing, but it’s more of a mix and match type of suit that you might see from a Batman still trying to figure things out. And that is one of the better aspects of Arkham Origins, you get to see a younger Batman who hasn’t quite figured everything out just yet.
The graphics are a fine bonus for the game indeed, but with better graphics comes some of the problems, the frame rate skips along during some cutscenes, and my biggest complaint with the game is something that shouldn’t be in the game at all when it hits retail, and that’s game crashing bugs. I admit when I was first fighting Deathstroke the difficulty spiked and it took me about an hour to figure out how to defeat him, and when I did finally beat him I was very happy and excited, only to have the game go to a black screen and not load the cutscene. Basically this meant that I had to reload the game and beat him all over again. The main problem with that is the fact that the next time I fought him, he crumpled to the ground dead before the fight was over, but the game wouldn’t let me progress. It was almost as if the game didn’t realize that I’d won the fight. The game crashes kept coming throughout the game, I’d say around six to either times total. This is something little that should have been tested before they released the game.
The technical issues are the main thing holding back this game for me, it’s very frustrating to play a game and finally beat an area that you were struggling with, only to find the game had crashed and didn’t save your progress. What makes this a solid Arkham game is the story, which is far and away the best of the trilogy. Arkham Origins takes place sometime within the second year of Batman’s crime fighting life, and he’s mostly dealt with mob bosses and petty criminals, he’s more of a rumor than a known hero. The villain Black Mask decides to take a hit out on Batman, offering fifty million dollars to the one who can finish Batman off for good. This actually brings together a large list of bad guys for a true purpose and doesn’t seem forced like Arkham Asylum and more notably Arkham Origins. I always felt Rocksteady tried too hard to fit in every known character into the game just to do it, and not for a legit reason.
I like the younger, more arrogant Batman who thinks he’ll be done with all these assassins and back home in time for a Christmas dinner with Alfred. His cockiness is something you’d expect considering he hasn’t met any real super villains just yet. It was nice seeing Alfred play a bigger adviser role, we also see Jim Gordon when he’s just Captain Gordon, and the majority of Gotham’s police department are corrupt. We even get to see a young Barbara Gordon who realizes just how corrupt the police actually are. Obviously a prelude to her becoming Batgirl and eventually Oracle later on in the official Batman canon.
Lots of characters from Batman’s lure are in the game, with 8 assassins hunting Batman it makes a lot of sense that we get a pretty big list of high-profile Batman baddies. The Riddler is back, but is simply called Enigma, and instead of Riddler Trophies, you get Enigma Packs, which are just as fun to try to collect. A lot of your favorites do make an appearance but I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises. I think it’s fair to say we do see the Joker and he plays an important part in the game. Troy Baker makes an excellent Joker, if you aren’t listening closely you’ll swear it’s still Mark Hamill’s Joker. It’s a very strong performance and the character is well written in the game, which is just as important. The little touches in the game, like being able to explore the Batcave, seeing the Batmobile under construction and just a lot of the little Easter Eggs like that make Arkham Origins very enjoyable.
The world of Arkham Origins is really large, and you’ll be able to use the Bat-Wing to go to the different drop off zones in the game. With it being Gotham City, you’d expect to see a lot of people, which is a part of the game that fails pretty hard. The only people on the streets are criminals, there aren’t any actual people to be found. Hopefully that’s something that can be improved upon next generation. Batman gets a full complement of weapons pretty early on in the game, and if you’ve played the other Arkham games you’ll know the kinds of goodies to expect. The combat remains largely unchanged, but has been tweaked a bit, so all the combo’s flow just like you remember.
There is an online multiplayer element to Arkham Origins, but it’s really largely forgettable to be completely honest. Two teams of three battle it out for territory, and two people play as Batman and Robin respectively. Batman and Robin are the wild cards and can cause stealthy trouble for either opposing team. It might be a decent online mode for a few rounds, but you’ll quickly forget it within a week like everyone else. I don’t fault developers for adding multiplayer to their games, it’s obvious that they want people to keep their games and not trade them in, I just think there might be a better way to go about it.
At the end of the day Batman Arkham Origins does a lot right, but the technical issues really seem to hamper and take you out of the fun of the game. It was nice seeing some tougher boss fights for a change, and the strong story is a real treat to watch unravel. I just can’t help but think this would have been a better game on next generation consoles, maybe we’d see actual people in the streets of Gotham? The game will probably get fixed up with a patch soon, and it is playable right now, but this is a game that could have been great. Instead Batman Arkham Origins will have to settle for pretty good.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10