Batman: Arkham Origins


By: Hadyn Green    On: Xbox 360
Published: Friday 25 Oct 2013 8:00 PM
 
 
Arkham Origins has a lot to live up to. Hadyn Green
 
 
 
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Before getting Arkham Origins I was most of the way through my fifth play-through of Arkham City. I love that game. Every time I was still discovering new things as the game was packed with Easter eggs and moments of "oh, that's how I get that Riddler trophy!"

Arkham Origins feels very different right from the start.

Sure, the similarities are there. Combat flows in much the same way but with some new combos and counters, although with much duller finishing moves. Gliding works the same way as since Arkham Asylum but you have the grapnel boost from the start (Although I’m not sure how they’ll retcon it, as it was still 'experimental' years later in Arkham City. Moving on...).

Even Gotham itself is the same. That's right! The map you’ll be flying over is the same one from Arkham City but with a whole extra island to the south. Of course none of the buildings are run down and the streets aren’t flooded but this element is very cool. Previous players can come into the game knowing roughly their way around the map, or you can use the Batwing to fast travel your way around the double-sized map.

But that nasty Riddler is still causing havoc. Of course he’s not technically The Riddler yet, just E. Nigma and he’s been scrambling radio towers all over Gotham, disrupting Batman’s detective mode and stopping the Batwing from being able to land. Disabling these towers is a bit like vantage points in Assassin’s Creed. Once they are disabled suddenly you’ll see a bunch of nodes that you’ll need to disable (hit with batarangs), and once you’ve destroyed them all you can go and get Nigma.

But you’ll have more to worry about than that. Black Mask, a sadistic mobster with a mask stuck to his face, has put out a bounty on Batman. Eight of the world’s best assassins have one night to kill Batman and net themselves a lot of money. These eight are the bosses you will encounter and their fights are much better than the ones from the previous game. You fight them as equal opponents who have skills similar to your own and require a lot of beating down.

Beyond the eight assassins, there are a number of supervillains up to no good in Gotham (At one point Batman growls “why tonight?” when he learns of yet another new crime). These crooks make up the “most wanted” campaigns. Nigma also has data packs hidden around the city. These are like the Riddler Trophies from Arkham City; some require standing on a pressure pad, others are just slightly hidden.

The Rogue’s gallery is much wider this time around even with repeats like (a much younger looking) Killer Croc and Penguin. You can also play as Deathstroke, if only in the challenge maps (there is a redeem code that comes with the game).

Of course, there are differences too.

Batman is angrier.

Of course this is a younger Batman, more hotheaded and determined to make a mark in his early days. He wants to run out and meet the assassins head on, as usual ignoring the pleas of Alfred. This is a Batman who has has never encountered Deathstroke or any other supervillain and never even heard of the Joker. He has heard of Bane though and sounds worried when he learns that that South American killer is in Gotham.

Batman is also fatter. Fatman, if you will.

Okay, maybe ‘bigger’ is a better word. I don’t mean the Batman is obese but that the design of all of the characters is chunkier; Batman’s boots look massive and his arms are thick. So are the thugs and the police and some of the villains. It’s a visual style that I found quite odd at first. Part of it is because of the armour that the designers have added and I suppose you could say that it’s cold outside so Batman rugged up.

It’s Christmas and Gotham is being hit by a huge snowstorm which rather helpfully keeps civilians and cars off the streets. The only people crazy enough to be out in the weather are thugs who have nothing better to do than stand knee-deep in snow all night.

The real difference with this game is that the creepiness is gone. Both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were creepy dark places with weird inhabitants. Scarecrow and Mad Hatter played as weird, terrifying supporting villains to an inhuman Joker. In Arkham Origins nothing seems closed in and none of the villains have that scary quality to them. There’s no sense of decay.

What replaces it is a hi-tech feel. The menus all look slicker and there is much more writing on the screen, showing you items in Detective mode or just relaying scores after a battle. This is a bad thing. In the menus a floating text box covers up icons and the score/XP info just clutters the screen (not to mention I keep thinking the sound it makes is a ringing phone from Mr Zsasz). The maps are more high tech too, with the ability to switch between levels on multi-level maps.

Annoyingly the maps are also pretty glitchy. You can allegedly tag items on the map to retrieve later, only I never had a single one actually show on the map after I tagged it. Alfred often talks in your ear about marking a location on a map, but when I went to look I couldn’t see it. Then I got lost in the Penguin’s lair trying to get to a map marker that was impossible to get to (I had to walk the long way around but nothing had told me that).

In terms of more major glitches, I had the game freeze sometimes. A couple of times Batman briefly got stuck in places, and the visual controls decided that they wanted to invert, ignoring the settings I’d saved. The worst though was after a battle with Deathstroke, when the game died just before the final cutscene.

Leveling up has changed. Instead of picking and choosing from unlocked upgrades, there is a clear tree to follow. Upgrade your combat armour in order to unlock the knife takedown, but if you want that batarang combo then you’ll need to upgrade ballistic armour too. I don’t mind this too much as it make Batman’s progression seem more intelligent. And this is a young Batman still learning the ropes.

This is clear as there are four different Batman roles that you fill by doing tasks. For example solving crimes and finding clues unlock new levels under “World’s Greatest Detective” while fighting achievements unlock levels in “Worst Nightmare”. At certain levels you unlock extra combos or abilities in the upgrade trees. It’s a nice way of showing Batman’s progress from mysterious stranger to legend.

There’s a bunch of cool new gadgets that will take veteran players a while to master, but you’ll soon be attaching bad guys to explosives and being the lethal unseen predator we all know and love.

The new crime scene tool is like that. It can recreate crime scenes showing you what took place and where the next clue might be found. It’s a step up from Arkham City’s scanner and tracking, but in general it feels like busy work with very little puzzle element to it. Crime scenes feature both as part of the main story and also as random scenes scattered around Gotham.

Like the previous games there are Easter eggs everywhere! I scoured the Batcave looking for them, which is how I found the Batmobile under repair. (There’ll eventually be a game where we drive it!) But exploration is still the heart of the game. Gotham is big and it’s lots of fun to dive off the roofs and soar over a snow clad city full of bad guys. Only this time they think you’re a myth right up until you punch them in the face.

Arkham Origins has a lot to live up to. I think it gets close but sadly not close enough. You still feel like Batman, but it’s missing... something. Perhaps Batman isn’t just a man with a bunch of extraordinary gadgets, maybe he needs that creepy weirdness as well.


The Score

Batman: Arkham Origins
"On a scale from Jason Todd to Bruce Wayne, this is Dick Grayson"
8.8
Great
Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min

 

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Comments (23)

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comics360
On Friday 25 Oct 2013 8:14 PM Posted by comics360
I need to get it. NOW!!!
 
 
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rocketman12
On Friday 25 Oct 2013 9:18 PM Posted by rocketman12 NZGamer.com VIP
8.8 is still a great score and I am a die hard Batman fan so I will be definitely purchasing it.
 
 
1
 
Mattress
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 1:14 AM Posted by Mattress NZGamer.com VIP
Thanks for the great review
 
 
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sick_wierdo
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 9:51 AM Posted by sick_wierdo
Great review Hadyn. Just wondering, are you guys going to review Blackgate?
 
 
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Coddfish
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 10:47 AM Posted by Coddfish NZGamer.com VIP
26 October 2013, 09:51 AM Reply to sick_wierdo
Great review Hadyn. Just wondering, are you guys going to review Blackgate?
Yeah we are. The review will be up next week. :)
 
 
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jtbthatsme
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 3:15 PM Posted by jtbthatsme NZGamer.com VIP
Fatman lol...good review and hoping that when I play this soon it'll be as good as the others. Great series overall.
 
 
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sick_wierdo
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 7:48 PM Posted by sick_wierdo
26 October 2013, 10:47 AM Reply to Coddfish
Yeah we are. The review will be up next week. :)
Great stuff. Cheers
 
 
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BlakeyNZ
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 10:28 PM Posted by BlakeyNZ NZGamer.com VIP
Stupid public holiday stopping me from getting my game! I can't wait to play this, will you guys update for multiplayer review?
 
 
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procion
On Saturday 26 Oct 2013 11:24 PM Posted by procion
lol even when a Batman game isn't very good, it's still pretty good. I'm playing on hard first play thru and I'm getting my arse kikked. Maybe I will have to forgo my usual canonical rule about playing games on at least hard and play the thing on normal. There's no shame is that, right?... Right???
 
 
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kiwibadboy
On Sunday 27 Oct 2013 2:03 AM Posted by kiwibadboy NZGamer.com VIP
Great review, love the Batman games :D
 
 
1
 
Bappernz
On Monday 28 Oct 2013 12:13 AM Posted by Bappernz NZGamer.com VIP
great review, nice to know that they haven't broken the series by trying to change to much
 
 
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hadyngreen
On Tuesday 29 Oct 2013 8:54 AM Posted by hadyngreen
The more I play the more glitches and annoyances I find.

The most annoying thing is when two thugs attack you and you counter, Batman will often only counter one and the other will hit you.

Dude! I need my combos!
 
 
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sick_wierdo
On Tuesday 29 Oct 2013 9:34 AM Posted by sick_wierdo
29 October 2013, 08:54 AM Reply to hadyngreen
The more I play the more glitches and annoyances I find.

The most annoying thing is when two thugs attack you and you counter, Batman will often only counter one and the other will hit you.

Dude! I need my combos!
Enough for you to change the review?
 
 
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nimrod76
On Tuesday 29 Oct 2013 12:28 PM Posted by nimrod76 NZGamer.com VIP
29 October 2013, 08:54 AM Reply to hadyngreen
The more I play the more glitches and annoyances I find.

The most annoying thing is when two thugs attack you and you counter, Batman will often only counter one and the other will hit you.

Dude! I need my combos!
You know when you need to counter two guys you need to hit the counter button twice?

Nice review though, I'm really enjoying the game but it definitely lacks that certain something that the first two had, I checked my story progress last night and was surprised to see I'm at 90% it really doesn't feel like I should be at 90% more like 50%.
 
 
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hadyngreen
On Wednesday 30 Oct 2013 11:02 AM Posted by hadyngreen
29 October 2013, 12:28 PM Reply to nimrod76
You know when you need to counter two guys you need to hit the counter button twice?

Nice review though, I'm really enjoying the game but it definitely lacks that certain something that the first two had, I checked my story progress last night and was surprised to see I'm at 90% it really doesn't feel like I should be at 90% more like 50%.
Really, twice? I don't think that's right because it only does it sometimes. I know I have to hit it twice to beat the martial artists.
 
 
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hadyngreen
On Wednesday 30 Oct 2013 11:02 AM Posted by hadyngreen
29 October 2013, 09:34 AM Reply to sick_wierdo
Enough for you to change the review?
Nope still an 8.8, not good enough for a 9.0
 
 
-1
 
nimrod76
On Wednesday 30 Oct 2013 1:02 PM Posted by nimrod76 NZGamer.com VIP
30 October 2013, 11:02 AM Reply to hadyngreen
Really, twice? I don't think that's right because it only does it sometimes. I know I have to hit it twice to beat the martial artists.
Yep, I was having the same problem. You can check it out in the basic moves menu I think (in the upgrade menu thing, the first box that has no upgrades in it).
 
 
2
 
hadyngreen
On Thursday 31 Oct 2013 2:34 PM Posted by hadyngreen
30 October 2013, 01:02 PM Reply to nimrod76
Yep, I was having the same problem. You can check it out in the basic moves menu I think (in the upgrade menu thing, the first box that has no upgrades in it).
Doh! the one place I never thought to look :D
 
 
-1
 
L40cal
On Monday 4 Nov 2013 3:27 PM Posted by L40cal
I want it but don't have the money rather get cod ghosts
 
 
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Professor_Oak
On Monday 4 Nov 2013 8:08 PM Posted by Professor_Oak
Besides from the glitches and lag, I do enjoy this game. Though, the Synopsis is short, it seems to be my favourite out of the three Arkham games at the moment.
 
 
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Kal El Bro
On Wednesday 6 Nov 2013 5:46 PM Posted by Kal El Bro
I am a huge Batman fan, enough so that I had to buy both collectors editions of this game so I had both statues, only to find that the game is buggy to hell.

Corrupt saves, freezing/crashing the system, missions not triggering or still showing on map even after completion. This was a huge let down.

If the bugs weren't there it would easily be a 9.0 based on the single player alone.

Multiplayer wise I haven't even been able to join a bloody game to try it out.
 
 
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hadyngreen
On Monday 18 Nov 2013 10:04 PM Posted by hadyngreen
After playing it more and discovering more and more glitches I'd totally change my score down closer to 8.0

Way too many bugs for a AAA game.
 
 
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reavers
On Saturday 30 Nov 2013 1:39 AM Posted by reavers NZGamer.com VIP
This looks like a fun game. Just need to get through the previous 2 titles :D
 
 
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