Batman: Arkham Origins Review: A younger Batman has growing pains
- Posted November 3rd, 2013 at 21:35 EDT by Garri Bagdasarov
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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
Meanwhile, Arkham Origins uses a modified experience points system that places upgrades behind completion of certain tasks or better mission performance. Upon leveling up, players can distribute skill points among two categories: Close Combat and Invisible Predator. Close Combat allows Batman to increase his resistance to melee damage and firearm damage, while Invisible Predator upgrades Batman's gadgets, from proximity-triggered explosive gel to unlocking more batarangs for throwing. New single player challenges can be completed for large experience bonuses and extra gadget abilities; while optional to the game at large, these challenges pose a good degree of difficulty and are required for 100-percent completion.
Origins is the first game in the Arkham franchise to feature multiplayer, pitting teams of four against each other in Team Deathmatch. The unique addition is the inclusion of Batman and Robin, controlled by two additional players. Teams score points by holding capture points or killing opposing players. Batman and Robin, on the other hand, have to subdue members from both teams trying to fill up a hero meter that, once full, heralds victory. Batman and Robin have access to all of the single-player campaign's predator abilities, giving them a distinct advantage. A standard upgrade system allows players to unlock new guns, skills, and equipment, such as detective vision and remote-controlled drones. Unfortunately, the multiplayer suffers from bad lag, poor shooting mechanics, bad hit detection, and tank controls. After player's respawn tokens fall below the halfway point, Bane and Joker become available for use by their respective teams. Though a nice addition to the game, both characters are severely overpowered. Joker comes equipped with a hand cannon that kills enemies in a single shot and a revolver that shoots explosive rounds. Bane, on the other hand, is a melee fighter able to run up and smash the ground, knocking out everyone in the vicinity, or grab players and throw them into walls, also resulting in an instant kill.
Other issues I ran into with the game were the sheer amount of framerate drops that took place after every cutscene, sometimes freezing and crashing my system. I also ran into a game-breaking bug toward the end of the game where, upon activating an elevator, the elevator doors never opened, leaving me unable to continue with the story. Luckily, I was able to grab my save from PlayStation Plus online storage and return to an earlier point, but other players might not be so lucky.
Though Arkham Origins doesn't change much in the Arkham formula established by Rocksteady, WB Montreal's effort hints at a refined franchise future, even if character misuse, a tacked-on multiplayer mode, and boring side quests leave me wondering if it's heading in the right direction. All told, better investigations, memorable boss fights, fantastic voice acting, and a stellar (if inconsistent) story give Batman: Arkham Origins refinements the franchise deserves, even if core elements aren't given the innovative love they need right now.