In light of the fact that I’m awesome enough to forget I have another place to complain about video games besides my friends who would rather cram a soda can down my throat then hear me rant about Watch Dog’s delay, we’ll try and climb back to a regular post by starting with quite frankly the most interesting title this month, Arkham Origins. When I say interesting I don’t mean it in a good way I mean it in more of a, “This game was a little better than I expected but not much. So when I say that I need to remind the few people who still plan on reading this of a simple fact, Arkham games should not be judged like a standard videogame. There’s something special no matter how repressed you might feel in this title especially. And believe me repressed is the best way to put it.
PRESENTATION: Are you getting what you’ve seen?
Considering I’m not IGN or Gamespot (thankfully on the latter) I can say without guilt that this is clearly a title meant to keep people waiting for the next real Arkham game. Arkham Origins was developed by an entirely different studio, Warner Brothers Montreal. And like anyone knows who tries to replicate a masterpiece, change too much and then it’s not a masterpiece. So my hat’s off to WB Montreal because this is the best that they could possibly do. Whatever you’ve seen beforehand in trailers or demos is what you’re going to get- which is a game that tries too hard to remind us how unrefined this Batman is.
Presentation gets a 7/10
One of the odder characters to be featured in the game: Anarky
Batman: Arkham Origins has nothing to do with the past two titles, except for the fact that it takes place several years before Arkham Asylum. The story takes place on Christmas Eve, early in Batman’s career when he’s still regarded as something of an urban myth, and then showing how in one night he’s shaped into the Dark Knight. How? Eight assassins have been hired by the Black Mask to kill Batman; whoever kills him first gets fifty million dollars. Some of the assassins range from more popular villains like Deathstroke to near C-list villains like the Electrocutioner. The story is actually the highlight of the game: it’s interesting and contains enough plot twists to really show how Batman met the Joker, how he became the legendary vigilante that he is, and how the rest of his career is defined by the one night. There’s of course a couple problems. The first one is that none of the characters are that interesting. A lot of the voice actors for the Arkham games have been replaced, most notably Batman and Joker. And most of the cast really do a very good job for the most part, but they’re just not the same. They just don’t feel like the Batman or Joker we know. The other problem is the characters. They don’t feel fleshed out and that’s because of this being an origin story. One thing that the Arkham games had that always worked well was Batman’s knowledge of these villains. Because he knows next to nothing nothing about Riddler or Joker or anyone else on this night, there’s no chemistry between the characters. It really comes down to Batman himself. The voice acting isn’t as much of a bad thing; the problem is that there’s no way to really respect this Batman, mostly because he’s unrefined. I feel like I’m dragging a dog along by it’s collar and slapping it’s nose when it disobeys. And again: it’s still a great story but it skates by it’s mistakes on thin ice.
Definitely one of the coolest villains in the game.
This is where I remind readers why repressed is the best way to describe the game. Because it’s a prequel, WB tries to make the game feel fresh and at the same time like a dated Batman, and what comes out is cookie dough tasting like toothpaste- it could be good, and it could’ve been a LOT better without the extra ingredients. The game takes place across a massive Gotham City which consists of Arkham City before it was Arkham City, and three new districts of Gotham. It’s cool, but there’s one major mistake: It feels lifeless. The excuse is that everyone’s supposed to be inside their homes due to the severe winter storm, but then why are criminals just roaming the streets? it feels lifeless. Part of Arkham City’s charm is finding all the secrets hidden in the game and exploring every nook and cranny; that’s not the case here. It feels more as if we’re handed a remote controlled car without batteries and just work with what we have. The Riddler trophies aren’t very interesting and feel much more tedious and the world feels rather bland. Basically, for every good part of the game there’s some problem weighing it down. Side missions are fun, but most of them are the same things we’ve done in previous games. Combat’s still great but the difficulty slurs from overpowering numbers of enemies to attacking three minor thugs without taking one hit. The predator gameplay remains mostly unchanged and is still fun so I actually have nothing to really complain about there. All of these problems really boil down to the fact that Batman is still fairly untrained, and while it’s admirable to try and make a player really see Batman in his early years, it feels limiting and ruins a lot of the fun. The battles with the assassins are the same way. Some are SPECTACULAR. Battling Deathstroke feels like something straight out of a Keanu Reeves movie, and puts enough balance between a cinematic feel and gameplay to truly remind us we’re Batman and not some psychopath with a bat mask. Some other duels however either consist of literally one hit or just plagiarize ideas from Arkham City. Which is too bad because there’s a lot of potential that’s just missed.
Gameplay gets a 6.5 out of 10
When all’s said and done though…it’s still Batman.
The Arkham games are never bad. They’re always spectacular! This one just feels more like a filler-in until the next title. If you’ve never played an Arkham game before then there’s a good chance you might enjoy this title more than I did. If you’re waiting for another game to come out far down the line, and you need something to keep you entertained, this is perfect. In conclusion, it’s not a bad game, but it feels like it’s holding our hand one too many times.
I will mention I enjoyed the idea of exploring Arkham City before it was a wasteland and liked the traditional Scarecrow easter egg. This is a great Christmas gift for someone who wants to start the Arkham games. And Bane is incredibly overused, seriously, he’s not that interesting! Again, photos don’t belong to me, they’re just there for the lazy people who hate too much words as much as I do! This was also written off the top of my head with little editing so feel free to comment if there’s anyone who cares! And enjoy the game if you get it because again: it’s still a Batman game.