Batman: Arkham Origins Review: A younger Batman has growing pains
- Posted November 3rd, 2013 at 21:35 EDT by Garri Bagdasarov
- PSU Review Score
- Avg. user review score:
You must be logged in to rate a game
Batman: Arkham Origins has refinements the series deserves, but core elements are missing the imagination they need right now.
- Strong story explores villain origins
- Fantastic voice acting
- Excellent boss fights
- Tacked-on multiplayer
- Framerate drops
- Core assassins in side quests
As mentioned, the game starts off on Christmas Eve in Old Gotham, the same part of the city that Batman will later explore in Arkham City. New Gotham is available, as well, but no matter where you go, you'll find skyscrapers and Christmas decorations aplenty. It was nice to see Arkham City with its bridges and buildings still well-kept and intact, and Arkham City vets will instantly recognize about half of the game's landmarks and locations. However, in Arkham Origins, Batman has access to all of his exploration skills and equipment from the get-go. The Batgrapple accelerator, formerly awarded for completing gliding challenges in Arkham City, is just one such tool available from the outset, streamlining gameplay but undermining our sense of the less-seasoned Batman we're supposed to be playing.
The game's world is full of optional activities to take on, but most of them require completing simplistic and repetitive tasks. The Riddler, calling himself E. Nigma here, returns to challenge Batman's intellectual prowess, this time placing blackmail data packs around the city. These packs replace the Riddler Trophies of past Arkham games and largely serve the same exploratory purpose. Meanwhile, as a replacement for the hostage situations from Arkham City, Batman must disable radio broadcast stations in order to track Enigma down and open up fast travel locations to different districts in the city. Breaking into these towers unfortunately isn't difficult or time-consuming, though some infiltrations require gadgets not available until later in the game. Ultimately, most side quests in the game require Batman to travel to a set location and beat up thugs or complete familiar objectives. Though the side quests add extra villains to the game, such as Edward Nigma and the Mad Hatter, WB Montreal takes a few of the eight core assassins hunting down Batman and places them in side storylines of their own, behind missions that aren't required to finish the story. As a result, these villains are essentially eliminated from the core narrative--it's a shame that some players won't end up facing all of the eight assassins that are, supposedly, the game's main threat.
Still, improvements abound and counter the steps backward. Detective missions are one such area of benefit. Though featured in both previous games, the murder quests of Origins are a separate entity this time. Using Batman's detective mode, players examine crime scenes to find clues and evidence, often recreating the crime itself with a new virtual reality mode. Players can then rewind and fast-forward the events of the crime to find clues that may have been missed. Unfortunately, the game holds the player's hand throughout most of the investigations, with Batman constantly saying what he needs to examine and what he is looking for. There's almost no opportunity to actually solve the case for yourself, and most cases simply devolve into beating the culprit until he confesses to the crime.