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.