Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition PS3 review

Review Score

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition

PSU Review Score
6.0
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Summary

Though it was dubbed the Deluxe Edition, its inclusions of extra costumes, a small graphical upgrade from the Vita version, and an increase in enemy encounters, can't help distinguish Blackgate from its handheld roots. Blackgate is an entertaining title that links well with where the overarching Arkham Origins story was going -- it's just a shame that the titles handheld origins weren't improved upon.

We like

  • Great voice acting.
  • Motion comic cutscenes.
  • Combat still fun.

We dislike

  • Various bugs and glitches.
  • Frustrating boss fights.
  • Story drags.

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Originally released in October 2013 for the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate accompanied Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel to Rocksteady's stellar Arkham Asylum and Arkham City titles. 

Seven months later Armature Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive have released an updated version of the handheld title in the form of a Deluxe Edition. Unfortunately, this downloadable game doesn't change much about the title, and doesn't seem to improve on some of its bugs and glitches.

The game's story picks up three months after the events of Arkham Origins. While patrolling Gotham City, Batman encounters Catwoman stealing computer data from an unknown company, and after pursuing and capturing her she is sent to Blackgate prison. Two weeks after her capture, Blackgate is once again hit with riots and the inmates take control of the prison. On his arrival to Blackgate, Batman encounters Catwoman who informs him that The Penguin, The Joker, and Blackmask have each taken control of the three main sections Blackgate: the Cell Block, the Industrial Area, and the Administration Offices. As a result, the Caped Crusader sets of to retake each block and quickly learns that there is more to the prison uprising then he originally thought.

Blackgate's narrative sequences are presented in motion comics, and features superb voice-over work. Returning to replay their roles from Arkham Origins, Roger Craig Smith provides a good voice for a young Batman while Troy Baker and Nolan North show off why they are the best in the business portraying The Joker and the Penguin, respectively. Though the voice work and motion comics move the story forward, it's unfortunate that the narrative itself drags thoughout the game, with nothing major happening up until the final conclusion.

Arkham Origins Blackgate is a 2.5D game, meaning it plays like a 2D sidescroller in a 3D environment. Armature did a great job implementing the core aspects of its console counterpart, bringing over the series' signature combat system and predator mode. With such a complex system in place, Armature did the best job it could implementing them on a 2.5D plane. As Batman explores Blackgate he naturally encounters escaped prisoners, and will once again utilize the free flow combat system to subdue his enemies. The Dark Knight once again jumps from enemy to enemy take them out, and while the combat has been downgraded to fit the 2.5D, our hero can utilize his cape to stun enemies, use his beatdown to put the hurt on foes and dodge stun batons. Sadly, Batman can no longer use his gadgets during combat and removing all but the most basic of moves makes the combat seem more like a button masher than anything else. 

The Arkham franchise's predator mode has also been downgraded to fit the smaller size of the game. Batman is reduced to perching on top of gargoyles and stalking his enemies to either knock them out from behind or hang them up from the gargoyles. He may also use his batarangs to distract enemies by throwing them at fire extinguishers and fire alarms. Unlike previous games, Blackgate doesn't utilize experience points from combat but rather through items found hidden in the environment. As you explore Blackgate players will upgrade Batman's armor and how much damage he does by finding hidden Wayne Tech storage cases. 

One of the most frustrating aspects of the game comes in the form of its boss battles. I was hoping that Armature Studios would have addressed the issues many encountered in the handheld version of the title, but sadly they didn't. The most frustrating issue is the lack of explanation of how to go about them, leaving many players to die countless times just to figure what strategy to employ. One boss battle in particular took me over an hour just to figure out that I was supposed to use my batgrapple from behind enemies to disarm them. This made it even worse when I tried this tactic before but the batgrapple icon never appeared to indicate I can use the tool, leaving me to explore other options, which led to many countless deaths.

Blackgate itself is an interesting environment to explore, when first entering the cell block you see what looks like the aftermath of a riot. However, when exploring the administrative and Industrial sections I started to wonder whether the prison went through a riot or if it was abandoned for fifty years. Old books and secret crawl spaces litter the environment, walls look like they have not been cleaned in years and candles seem to be the only light sources in some areas. Blackgate just seems like it is one of the worst funded prisons in the world to house some of the world's most dangerous criminals. It is also a drag to explore and the game requires tremendous amount of backtracking. Blackgate utilizes detective mode by highlighting certain objects and identifying them as something you can pull, throw a batarang at, or destroy with explosive gel. Batman also uses detective mode to find hidden clues in the environment to solve cases and find out how certain situations occurred in the prison; though these are not required to finish the game, Trophy hunters and completionists will find solving each case a must. 

Just like the PS Vita version of the title I ran into a lot of sound bugs. Most of these occurred right after a motion comic cutscene, where the sound would fade in and out and after a while it would sound like white noise from you're television. The only way to solve the problem was to quit to the XMB and restart the game. Other issues that occurred were lock-on objects didn't register forcing me to return to a different room and re-enter to reset it. Both of these issues happened quite often and became a bother throughout most of the game. 

Though it was dubbed the Deluxe Edition, its inclusions of extra costumes, a small graphical upgrade from the Vita version, and an increase in enemy encounters, can't help distinguish Blackgate from its handheld roots. Blackgate is an entertaining title that links well with where the overarching Arkham Origins story was going -- it's just a shame that the titles handheld origins weren't improved upon. 

If you are interested in letting into the Arkham Origins cannon check out our review of Batman: Arkham Origins here, and stay tuned for our review of "Cold Cold Heart" DLC at the end of the month.

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