Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

The Batman: Arkham series has received praise of the highest order for it's portrayal of the dark knight and the enemies and plots he has to deal with. Currently, the line-up includes Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and the recently released Arkham Origins.

The interesting thing to note is that while the first two games are fairly linear, with City following not long after Asylum, Origins is a prequel. Set two years after Bruce Wayne first takes up the mantle of the bat. (I doubt it, but if the fact that Bruce Wayne is Batman is a spoiler for you, you may want to go ahead and close the window now.) Origins details Batman's first encounters with such enemies as The Joker, Killer Croc, and the Mad Hatter.

The story is fairly straight-forward to start with. The mob boss Black Mask has hired eight of the top assassins in the world to come to Gotham City and whoever kills the Batman wins 50 million dollars. Not only is this the perfect introduction to the characters of Killer Croc, and Bane, staples of the Batman universe, but it also introduces several other DC villians, including Copperhead, Shiva, and the popular Deathstroke. 

The story is original, and fairly impressive in its scope, spanning a much larger area than either of the two games before it. As you explore the city to follow the storyline, there are also several side quests which you can pursue, from stopping common muggings and solving random crimes, to tracking down the ever elusive Riddler. 

The Good

Throughout the whole series, you ARE Batman, and Origins is no exception. From the gadgets to the detective work, puzzle-solving, to combat, everything feels just right. Given that this is a prequel, and it's set early in Batman's career, the character himself is a little rough around the edges to start, but you get to see him grow throughout the story. Applaud to that, as properly showing growth in such an iconic character is very hard to do properly and very easy to screw up. 

The setting is beautiful. A large section of Gotham city on Christmas Eve, covered in snow. A big winter storm is expected to hit, which, as far as reasoning go, is a very good one for keeping civilians off the street. You have buildings, sewers, streets, and rooftops to run around and explore, providing plenty of opportunities to play the predator of evil, or just run up and beat the crap out of thugs. You even have the real batcave to go play around in, if you choose. 

This is without a doubt, a perfect prequel to the other two games.

The Bad

At some point, the game was taken from Rocksteady, the company which made Asylum and City and handed over to WB Montreal. That caused a few concerns when the information first came out, and it seems to have been for good reason. 

My biggest issue with Arkham Origins are the controls. They are mostly lifted from the previous games. I say mostly because it's nowhere near the same quality. Hit detection isn't as precise and moves are executed slower, creating more openings for your enemies in combat. In a game where combat is based on chaining beatdowns without getting hit yourself, that creates a very real problem, and one which was not present in the first two games to anywhere near this degree. As well, it would seem the previous games had some version of auto-targeting which the developers of Origins decided to leave out. In combat, you have the ability to use your gadgets and a fair bit of the time, they work alright. If your camera happens to be just a little at an angle though, you can easily find yourself hurling batarangs into the wall instead of into the thug who is currently unloading his clip into you.

The only other thing that bothers me, is that there's no mention of other characters or villains that I can find. The previous games had different things you could scan around the environment to create a more or less full list of Batman's rogues gallery. Outside of the characters you meet through the course of the game, there doesn't seem to be any such easter eggs in Origins. 

Those are fairly minor issues though, all things considered. They don't really impede enjoyment of the game, even if the controls do make things a bit more difficult than intended. If you enjoyed Asylum and City, or if you're any kind of Batman fan at all, you'll enjoy Origins, if nothing else, for the chance to see some of your favorite characters again.

No comments:

Post a Comment