Batman: Arkham Origins – Time For A Reboot

By Tristan . November 16, 2013 . 12:30pm

Batman: Arkham Origins is a prequel to the two previous games in the same series—Batman: Arkham City and Batman Arkham: Asylum. In Origins, a group of assassins have been hired for fifty million dollars to eliminate Batman’s presence out of Gotham City by the game’s villain, Black Mask. Immediately after Batman gains knowledge of this, he sets out to find each assassin and take them down, one by one.

 

Batman: Arkham Origins is primarily an action-adventure game with a few stealth elements and puzzles thrown into the mix. The game’s combat system is rather basic—you’re given a light attack that strings into combos just by mashing the attack button; a counter move to counter weak attacks; the ability to dodge-roll out of harm’s way, which is most useful for stronger attacks that can’t be countered; and the cape stun, which stuns an enemies upon Batman swinging his cape in their direction.

 

The level of difficulty almost feels like a joke due to the fact that you can easily plow through a barrage of enemies just by mashing buttons and reacting to counter attacks as needed. However, the stealth mechanics and gadget system make up for the poor combat system. For example, there will be times when you’re put up against a large number of opponents, some with projectile weaponry, and it’s best not to alarm them and instead, take them out one by one without being spotted. In most cases, you can reach higher ground and leap down on them, instantly taking them out, or sneak up behind them and execute a silent takedown.

 

A nice touch to Batman: Arkham Origins is the expansion of Gotham City, which is rather large in size. With hidden collectibles to find, and the occasional side mission to complete, Gotham City is an interesting place to explore as you glide from rooftop to rooftop, acquiring missions and discovering different areas. That said, while Gotham is quite big, it also feels rather empty. There really isn’t much life to it. It’s dark and gloomy, with the excuse being that the assassins have scared everyone into staying indoors. It’s a convenient excuse to place Batman in yet another abandoned setting, filled with nothing but his worst enemies.

 

Also featured in Batman: Arkham Origins is the level up system from previous games, where Batman will gain experience by defeating enemies and then advance the level of his skills. The progression of how your abilities level up are completely up to you to decide—like Arkham Asylum and City, once you level up, you will be prompted to select an ability to upgrade. The unfortunate part is, three games later, there’s still no need to worry about strategically choosing which ones to upgrade, because once you reach the end of game they will all be either maxed out or near maxed out anyway.

 

Gadgets are back, too, and are, for the most part, the same as before, with a couple of new additions here and there. Explosive Gel easily destroys weak walls and knocks down any enemies in the vicinity just as before. Meanwhile, the Remote Claw is new in that it can be be used to pull objects together or opposing enemies. The Remote Control Batarang, which functions as a remote control boomerang like previous games, is mostly used to solve puzzles. Then, there’s my personal favorite—the new Shock Gloves, which allow you to block electric attacks and stun certain enemies. They however can’t be used too often as they do need to be recharged.

 

Boss battles in Batman: Arkham Origins can be a lot of fun when they start to get hectic. Take  the fight with Firefly for example. The fight begins on the surface of a bridge with Firefly flying around shooting flames of fire at you, while you’re tasked with doing your best to bring him down using any available projectiles you feel comfortable using. Once  his health is low enough and you attempt to bring him down using the Batclaw but fail to do so, Firefly will begin to chase you around the bridge continuously throwing grenades and shooting flames at you, as you attempt to reach the next area to repeat the process of throwing more projectiles at him.

 

That said, boss battles do at times feel long and drawn out, and sometimes overly cinematic. Some bosses are extremely heavy on quick-time events, which made me feel less in control of how I normally go about defeating a boss. On the upside, the game does pose a bit more of a challenge during boss battles.

 

Batman: Arkham Origins isn’t a game for everyone, unlike Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, both of which were not only extremely well polished games but were also fresh and interesting enough to keep just about anyone engaged. Origins, on the other hand, seems satisfied with entertaining its target audience of Batman fans. While it does a decent job of that, the lack of difficulty and depth is probably the game’s biggest downfall, and it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.


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  • subsamuel01

    the lack of difficulty? Have you tried this game on I am the Knight mode or new game plus. This game was way harder than the past two in my opinion, especially the boss battles.

  • MVRK HNTR

    It’s the Ninja Gaiden 3 of Bat games!

    • ndjn3979

      I c what u did thar

    • leingod

      That only applies to the newer games, though. The NES Ninja Gaiden 3 was the best of that particular trilogy.

      • MoriyaMug

        In every aspect except visual complexity (in stages, anyhow), NG3 NES was inferior to 2. Stupid plot, floaty controls and unbalanced difficulty.

    • evilmajikman

      Nope. That honor still belongs to Batman & Robin and Return of the Joker.

    • TheFoolArcana

      Batman has always been easy though.

      • MVRK HNTR

        My comment has nothing to do with the difficulty of the games. It’s just that the Ninja Gaiden games (not the NES trilogy) had a similar progression (more like regression, I suppose).

        Ninja Gaiden / Ninja Gaiden Black / Ninja Gaiden Sigma were all critically acclaimed.

        Ninja Gaiden II / Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 didn’t see quite as many rave reviews, but the combat was refined.

        Ninja Gaiden 3 was just terribad.

        As the article mentions, the first two Arkham games were really good and the third just couldn’t live up to the hype.

    • fairysun

      Then maybe they will work on the Razor’s Edge version of Arkham Origin :D.
      One can hope.

  • https://twitter.com/Panda_castro Panda

    This is definitely my least favorite of the batman games. Personally I got hook when the joker came out. His sections were the best out of the whole game. I hope the next one is a batman beyond game by Rocksteady. I also wouldn’t mind a beat em up like the Snes games.

  • hazelnut1112

    I was going to get this game because I casually enjoyed the other Batman games. Then when I saw the stuff the season pass offered I decided to pass on this until the complete edition comes out. Even looking at the season pass made me feel ripped off.

  • Cellsai

    “However, the stealth
    mechanics and gadget system make up for the poor combat system”

    WHAT.

    Poor combat system? This is honestly the first time I have ever heard anyone give anything but praise for the Arkham series combat. (aside from the Shock Gauntlets which do turn the game into a braindead mash fest as you mention). These Batman games are one of the few times I’ve ever stopped while traversing the map just to fight random guys because the freeflowing punch/counter is so much fun.

    • Spicydicey

      He, I was just about to make a similar comment- that I’ve never heard of anyone call the Arkham combat poor before!

  • Wake

    I feel that you’re missing out on how fun the combat system really is. It’s almost like a rhythm game. You don’t button mash, you time your hits properly so you can get critical hits. You do all that while trying to read the enemies movements. You’re thrown into situations with a variety of enemies and forces you to think quick on your feet.

  • SageShinigami

    > level of difficulty is a joke
    >> loves the shock gloves

    That’s not how this works. If you wanna dock points, do it for lack of originality. The fighting system is EXACTLY the same as Arkham City’s was. Except in this one the fighting’s actually more difficult because the enemies are faster in hitting you.

  • Ty Austin

    Haven’t really played any of the Arkham games. What I don’t get is the whole “Origins” theme around it. I’ve heard this takes place 2 years after Batman starts, not exactly an origin story if he’s been doing it for so long. I would have been more interested if you start as Bruce Wayne just before he becomes Batman.

    Sure, this is the first time he’s fought these guys. But what’s the difference? They just mention this is the first time fighting him or something? Can anyone give me clarity on what makes this game feel like an origin story?

    • DCBlackbird

      It’s the origin of the whole conflict between Joker and Batman. I may have a bias, but the fact that SPOILERS SPOILERS Joker is the antagonist of this game just proves how much they regretted killing him off SPOILERS SPOILERS This game serves as the origin to what is believed to be the future integral feuds of Batman’s career.

      • Casey Williamson

        It’s also the first meeting between Batman and Barbara Gordon, the first time Jim Gordon and Batman work together, and the night Alfred Pennyworth starts supporting his crusade. Also, the first meeting between Joker and Harleen Quinzel, the night when Joker finds his new purpose in life, the origin of how Bane got so big, and the story of how Arkham Asylum reopened. Lot of firsts here.

        • Ty Austin

          Yeah, I understand from a story perspective. But gameplay-wise, you’re still exploring the city and fighting the usual villains. It just seems to me, without the dialogue and story, it’s not much different from Arkham City.

          I could be completely wrong, since I’ve never played any of the games (that’s why i’m asking.) But you’ve got Batman’s origin to play with, take it outside Gotham for a bit or something, do something different from the last game.

          • Toshiro Hiroyuki

            usual villains give names other then joker and bane no of the other villains in this game were in previous arkham games

  • Nice Boat Quatro

    Something funny about Batman’s scenes in this game is that he is constantly interrogating thugs while yelling. It looks like the actor is trying to imitate Christian Bale for a second but he can’t make that tone.

    “WERS’ THE TRIGGA!!”

    • MoriyaMug

      The one where the thug sings “Jingle Bells, Batman smells” was hilarious.

  • Göran Isacson

    As someone who hasn’t played Arkham City but who did play and enjoy Arkham Asylum, I too have some complaints about the battle system… but none that revolve around it being too easy. Mostly my complaints is that I don’t feel as much in control as I would like to be. The larger enemy groups become the bigger the odds that it will involve a big guy who blocks your attacks, or a shield-wearing enemy. And I cannot for the life of me prevent my character from flipping over and punching those guys when I’ve built up a long combo when I meant to attack an enemy near them or just right next to me that’s sort of in the same direction as them.

    I can’t recall if this was a problem in Asylum, but it feels as if they made the enemies too many so you lose control and overview of the fight scenes when Batman flips around and clears huge swathes of ground inbetween punches, and you end up railroaded into breaking a combo whenever the games interpretation of which enemy you meant to attack differs from the enemy you ACTUALLY want to attack. It just feels too big and bloated, by the end.

    Stealth sections are still awesome though, and the general battle system is still interesting in how it rewards patience and rhythm, but as soon as the mook hordes swell I just keep losing combos and the fights just become drawn out and dull. Maybe I’m just not using the cape stun enough, maybe that would clear some space for me… also I do wish they’d let you pick what upgrade you’d want to buy instead of forcing you down the tech-tree. I would really rather have a quick build-up of combos and extra combo-attacks before I enhance the armor thank you very much.

    Also, the bosses are… a bit meh, sometimes. Shiva and Bird plain suck because they don’t do anything interesting, Bane and Copperhead are neat since they try some things of their own but either become dull once you’ve seen through their trick (Copperhead) or become annoying when mooks interfere (Bane). Firefly just felt like it was all spectacle, no substance or thinking involved and Deathstroke… nah Deathstroke was actually pretty cool, really forced you to keep your eyes peeled. But still- bosses were a mixed bag of mostly mediocre miscreants and mercenaries. Can’t exactly say many of them got my blood pumping.

    • k.b.a.

      it seems to be an even split between the east and west these days. one side makes a boss into an easy but stupid sequence of QTE the other side, at least in games like god eater monster hunter and rpg’s just hit it for a REALLY long time. and try not to get hit. granted it’s the essence of every boss fight but in my barebones second description i think someone’ll get the point. the art of the boss fight, let’s face it, is dying. fast. at least Souls does it well

      • Göran Isacson

        Gotta say I do agree with you, but I must admit to my disgrace that I’ve never played a Souls game before. I am a heathen, I know, but I got a lot of games to go through inbetween other life things, so it just never happened.

        Another problem might also be that everyone has their own interpretation of what a boss should be. Now me, whenever I think of a game that has fun and challenging boss battles, I always think back to the Megaman Zero games. Now I have no idea if you’ve even played those games, but what I like about them is that they often offer two kinds of challenges.

        1. Their movements. Megaman game bosses often have a lot of nifty attacks and tricks up their sleeves. Some put up shields, some use the environment in various ways, but they often use some kind of attack or movement pattern you CAN get on the first try if you’re good enough, but which you have to pay attention to in order to figure out how to beat them.

        2. YOUR movements. The problem with a game that focuses everything on making the bosses big and difficult, is that the game can get “oppressive”. There is only one thing you can do to hurt a boss, and the boss battle is just a matter of repeating that one thing whenever they bare a weak point. That approach often feels a bit mechanical and stiff, you’re forced down one road and one road only. Megaman zero games usually gives you the opportunity to sneak in extra attacks if you’re good at reading the opponent and have the reflexes for it. Knowing what your weapons can do can sometimes make all the difference.

        TL;DR version: A good boss should be able to challenge you to think both defensively and offensively. We shouldn’t be able to button-mash them to death and tank through their defenses, but we shouldn’t also be running around waiting for that one and only opportunity when we can attack. I like bosses with more than one way to beat them, simply put. In Arkham Origins that’s… Deathstroke, pretty much.

  • RegReach

    If i lived inn gotham i would stay indoors too

  • Max

    Why didn’t you talked about the story?

    Personally it was good but it’s problem was with the way they sometimes presented it. It felt like it’s strong point was only in moments. The ending felt lacking.

  • k.b.a.

    i’ve personally always thought everything should be rough as hell for batman. i guess for that reason most of the games are a bit of a let down. he’s smart yeah, but in the events of asylum which is the only one i’ve played so far, he had no time to prep for getting locked in a prison! a difficult flushed out combat system would’ve been great as the series progressed, considering yes he is a highly skilled martial artist, but not the best in the world. it’s only fair he should struggle. either that… or go Nolan and jackboot everything like frank miller told you to.

  • Freud_Hater

    Well see, I had never played an Arkham ‘Whatever’ game before even if I had heard pleeeeeeenty of good stuff about the series (I only really tried this third instalment out because it was developed in Montréal and I want to support the industry over here :3) and I’m having a ton of fun with this game, save for a few pretty funny glitches. Does that mean the other two are eeeeeeven more fun? ‘-’

  • Jeffrey Thrash

    Good for you, Siliconera, for doing a review without an arbitrary number at the end. It forces the reviewer to give honest impressions and perhaps consider the other types of gamers who might like or dislike the game.

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