The latest entry of the highly successful Arkham series; “Batman: Arkham Origins” is a prequel, set in year two of the caped crusaders fight against crime. The game pit this young Batman against eight of the world’s deadliest assassins, who are in Gotham to collect a fifty million dollar bounty put on the worldâ€™s greatest detectiveâ€™s head. While the game does not hit the highs of the first two games in the series, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City,” who can say no to beating down Gotham Cityâ€™s most wanted? Maintaining the series’ trademark tone and signature gameplay, “Batman Arkham Origins” still manages to satisfy.
Rocksteady, the development team behind the first two Arkham games, passed the cape and cowl on to WB Montreal and in spite of some new bells and whistles, manages to keep the same gritty aesthetics and controls. New gadgets such as the shock gloves and the remote claw are welcome additions as they add a new dynamic to the series’ amazing free flow combat. The boss battles are an improvement from previous games. Each assassin test a player’s strength and mind. A showdown with DC’s most wanted Deathstroke will have fanboys crying tears of joy. Also, crime scene investigations are more interesting than ever. Batman can now reconstruct the events of a crime to allow players to relive it.
The story is a compelling one. Exploring the Batman early in his career, an angry young man on a mission to keep a promise he made to his fallen parents that night in crime alley, is simply enthralling. This Dark Knight is not the disciplined and hardened crime fighter we met in the last two games, this Dark Knight makes mistakes and pays dearly for them. Instead of retelling the same old origin burned into the minds of everyone, WB Montreal tells a story of a Batman who digs deep to overcome his first real obstacle in his fight against crime.
Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker play Batman and The Joker, replacing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. Both are perfect for their roles. Smith strikes fear into criminals and players with his voice and Baker’s performance as The Joker will send chills down your spine. Similar to James Mcavoy and Michael Fassbender’s performances as younger versions of Patrick Stewartâ€™s Charles Xavier and Ian Mckellinâ€™s Erik Lensharr in the film “X-Men: First class” Smith and Baker don’t do their best impressions of the actors that came before them but make the role their own. It easily could have been the voice actors doing their best impressions of Conroy and Hamill, but there unique performances stand on their own.
The main qualms with the game come with the visuals and sound. Frame rate hiccups and a lifeless Gotham city are frustrating. There are interesting side missions and crimes in progress to tackle, but for a map that is significantly bigger than that of Arkham City, it’s a sandbox without sand. The first two games took place in closed off areas that explained the environments lack of pedestrians. Even in a world with a homicidal giant crocodile, it is hard to believe that on the years busiest holiday that there is not a civilian to be found in all of Gotham. The game could have used a delay to add some polish and to work the multiplayer which seems like a weak first attempt at something that could have been special. The lackluster third person shooter multiplayer has potential, but does not have that kicker just yet either.
All in all, “Batman: Arkham Origins” is a great excuse to dive into the world of free flowing combat. Its story and boss fights keep you engaged but frame rate issues, a huge map of nothing and a weak multiplayer keep WB Montreal from having the last laugh. Arkham Origins is far from a terrible game, it is great at times. It also is not a game that will revolutionize the super hero game genre like the previous entries in the series.