Back in 2010, Rocksteady Studios changed the superhero videogames genre forever when they released Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game had an original story, voice acting by the same voice actors from Batman: The Animated Series with Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker, and a new type of combat called Free Flow, where the game truly made you feel like Batman. This was also one of the first in the superhero genre not to be a movie tie-in.
In 2011, Rocksteady released a sequel to Arkham Asylum in the form of Batman: Arkham City. This installment was more of an open world game, as it improved on the mechanics that were so successful in Asylum. City had a great story as well, making the Arkham series arguably the best superhero game series of all time.
On October 25, the third installment to the Arkham series was released, titled Batman: Arkham Origins. Origins was not released by Rocksteady, but instead was released with WB Montreal, which some thought to be a detriment to the series. Many fans were skeptical because of the new studio, but they had no reason to be as Batman: Arkham Origins lives up to the Arkham name and then some. Origins serves as a prequel to the two previous games, taking place in Batman’s second year fighting crime in Gotham City. This means he does not have the trust of Jim Gordon or the rest of the Gotham City Police Department. Also, the Dark Knight has not met some of his greatest foes, but not to worry, he will get acquainted with a few of them as the game progresses.
The story of the game is based on Black Mask, a notorious crime lord, putting a bounty on Batman’s head on Christmas Eve. This large bounty attracts eight of the world’s best assassins, including: Bane, Deathstroke and Deadshot. The eight assassins have one night to kill Batman, with some of them tied in to the main story of the game, while others can be taken care of through side missions.
Other notorious villains that make appearances in the game are: Killer Croc, the Penguin, and of course, the Joker. Croc and the Penguin have relatively minor roles in the game, but it is cool to see them as young villains. The Joker, per usual, steals the show. Voice actor Troy Baker takes the place of Mark Hamill as the voice of the Clown Prince of Crime, with Baker’s voice almost identical to Hamill’s, just darker.
The game plays pretty much the same as the two games that came before it, but there are some different tweaks WB Montreal put in here and there. The most noticeable change comes in the form of the new and improved detective mode.
Instead of just scanning the scene of the crime and looking for evidence that way, Batman can now play back the crime using analytics. By scanning certain items, Batman can see how something occurred. In the biggest investigation in the game, Batman runs through how the entire crime takes place and even uses the fast forward and rewind functions to reveal where more clues are. This feature is an awesome one as it makes you feel like you are fully taking advantage of Batman’s “world’s greatest” detective abilities.
The other tweaks are relatively minor, as the WB team did not want to change a formula that was already successful. The team added a still tree in the upgrade system, as well as adding a few new gadgets, like the Glue Grenade (similar to the Freeze Grenade in AC) and the Concussion Grenade. There are also a pair of shock gloves you get after defeating the Electrocutioner, which can be helpful when the enemies become harder as the game progresses.
The side missions in this game are less vast than the ones in Arkham City, but there is still a lot to do once you beat the main story. There are still some assassins to take care of and some Black Mask related things to do, but the most intriguing ones were the side missions involving Anarky, Enigma or the Riddler.
Dealing with these villains for the first time is fun, as they are introduced in unique ways. Enigma is introduced as a hacker who closes down fast travel points that you have to open back up. He is as arrogant as ever and it was clever that the development team chose not to use his well-known name, but rather a codename Batman gives him on the fly. Anarky is a great side villain who has an interesting story to go along with his want to blow up government buildings.
Batman: Arkham Origins does contain a multiplayer portion that is separated into two parts: the challenge maps, like the ones in Arkham City, and an Invisible Predator online mode that is housed on its own disk.
The Invisible Predator multiplayer mode is comprised of three teams all trying to take each other out. The teams are: Bane’s gang, Joker’s gang and Batman and Robin as they are armed with guns while trying to kill each other. The two players playing as Batman and Robin are basically playing like they would in the single player game by trying to take out armed thugs without being spotted. This multiplayer mode is creative, to say the least, but pales in comparison to the story mode.
Verdict: Batman: Arkham Origins is a great game that carries the weight of its title well. It may not be as good as Arkham City, but it definitely is better than Asylum. The game has an awesome story with voice acting that is just as good as Conroy and Hamill. The multiplayer portion is forgettable, but can be a fun change of pace. Overall, this is a solid game and one that definitely lives up to expectations.