So much has already been said about Batman: Arkham Origins to the point where one could argue that too much has been said about it. So I ask that you indulge in a few more words — a few more words offered by a man who usually takes a good month to write a review.
The latest chapter in the Arkham series is almost undoubtable a failure to live up to the standards of its predecessors. It does many new things, but not very well. The cutscenes and the transitions to them are choppy at their best. The multiplayer feels like an afterthought. Now insert all the other negatives you’ve heard before. Now that we’re through that, let’s discuss the silver lining to this game, why this game would be a profound disappointment for those who buy at the $60 price tag, yet will be a welcome distraction for Batman fans once it hits the bargain bin.
This game is a rare prequel. At this point, we’re used to prequels that are arguably bette than their predecessors (Bioshock Infinite) or a love letter to the series by the developer (Halo Reach). Arkham Origins is rare in the sense that it feels like it really is the first entry in the series, which needless to say, isn’t really a good thing.
The developers really did bite off more than they could chew with letting you loose in all of Gotham mostly because it is underpopulated and The Riddler trophies are sparse and not well-thought-out. What (kind of) redeems this is how The Riddler is yet to be who he is in the next games. The fact that he only goes by Enigma and the data packs are kind of clever. It makes sense that all the easter eggs are not present for this one. The fact that gliding through the city is not as smooth since there isn’t quite enough to grapple to also makes it feel very much like the first entry of the series. While these things irk me, it’s rather interesting to see.
A couple things that they added to the game I actually enjoyed very much — one of them being the graded combat. As a huge fan on the old Devil May Cry games, I thought this added an interesting layer to the combat. The “Dark Knight Challenges” also added another layer of depth that I appreciated only that with some of the challenges, most notably the one where you must a sonic batarang to lure someone into a takedown, take several completions before they actually register. While the multiplayer is not so great, when you actually get to play as Batman or Robin, it’s a blast. The added gadgets that are basically “win buttons” like the remote claw and shock gloves compensate for the added number of enemies. The shock gloves are great, actually, because they return the combat back to its previous speed, which leads me to the game’s main problem.
The Arkham games are so very much rhythm games. Timing is everything with the combat and by Arkham City, it was perfected to beat ‘em up bliss. This game changed the timing. Batman is slower, the enemies are faster and the combat as a whole is a lot less smooth. They took the best part of the game – the inherited perfect formula – and the developers tinkered with it to the point where even fighting a small group of enemies can be a chore. I went back and played Arkham City to see the difference and all I can say about it is that it’s a damn shame.
What I liked most about the game was the story. I’m very accustomed to constant re-imaginings of stories like Batman’s origins so this game’s story was interesting and fun with some pretty decent voice acting to boot. You’re either going to buy into it or you’re not. It kept me playing through the game.
Arkham Origins is not as bad as people say it is. It’s still a solid game that truly feels like the first entry in the series. If anything, this game will just make you appreciate the previous titles more. Once it gets to be a little cheaper, pick it up, as it’s still a solid Batman experience.