[PS3 Review] Batman Arkham Origins
Developed by WB Games Montréal, Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline set several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, the first two critically acclaimed games of the franchise. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous criminals, the game showcases a young and unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, players will meet many important characters for the first time and forge key relationships.
Inspired by the events of the DC Comics Batman: Knightfall saga, the exclusive PlayStation Knightfall Pack features:
Knightfall Batman Skin
Classic TV Series Batman Skin
You’ll fight Bane, Venom users, and Blackgate prisoners in a crime-ridden Gotham City, where Bane’s forces have seized control of several key locations where only Batman can stop them. Fight your way through three combat maps, stealth across two predator maps, and push yourself to the breaking point in a new challenge campaign.
Batman: Arkham Origins is the latest entry in the Arkham series, and it lays the foundation for a prequel take on the story of this universe’s Batman. It is also the first half of an Origins double combo with Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, the companion Vita/3DS portable release that borrows some elements from Nintendo’s Metroid series to the series in a 2.5 sidescroller.
The whole game is supposed to take place during Christmas eve when Black Mask decide it would be a great idea to put out a $50 million bounty on Batman which sends every low level thug into a suicide mission gunning for the Bat while, at the same time, highly skilled assassins (that is, villains from Batman’s rogues gallery) decide to have some fun before the holiday is over. The story sets the stage for eight assassins, but as you progress you’ll realize that several other Batman villains will join in on the fun by trying to bring down not only Batman, but all of Gotham city.
Since this is almost a “Year One” sort of scenario, Batman is still a young vigilante who is meeting some of his iconic nemesis for the first time. On that note, Barbara Gordon is a young girl who looks up to Batman’s actions, Gordon is still a Detective who believes in the system and doesn’t see all the corruption and abuse of power that goes on behind the scenes… and Batman has yet to meet the Joker for the first time. As you can imagine this sets up the stage for a very interesting story that threads known territory while, at the same time, it tries to introduce some new twists and turns to make Batman into the crime-fighting machine we get to see in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
Speaking of those two games, let’s get something out of the way: Batman: Arkham Origins is not the best 3D Batman game ever (that title still belongs to Arkham Asylum). Arkham Origins does feel a bit tighter than Arkham City since all sidequest and story elements are better integrated into the flow of the game, but combat feels odd for the first hour or so because the timing is different from the last two games (when you try to counter it sometimes does not register, and when achieving a free flow combo the game sometimes does not move Batman towards the nearest enemy), and the frame rate dips a bit here and there during combat heavy fights. Both elements can probably be attributed to a new developer working on Origins instead of Rocksteady (who are either working on something new or are developing a rumored new Batman title.
As for the new in this game? Batman: Arkham Origins features Crime Scene investigations which are a nice change of pace from all the action. In these, Batman enters a first person view where he scans around for clues as to what has happened, thus carefully reconstructing an incident down to the smallest detail in order to unravel the mystery at hand.
Another new element is the Batcave which allows you to immerse yourself in the “I am Batman” mentality while interacting with your trusty butler, Alfred, and training in the combat area so that you can be the best you can be. Don’t forget to return to the Batcave every now and then after a development in the story because talking to Alfred will actually reward you with experience points to level up so that you can upgrade your skills and equipment… oh, and there’s a trophy you can get when you’ve heard everything Alfred has to say.
Since Gotham is a BIG city, you can now use the Batwing to quick travel between each sector of the city to speed up your progress… that is if you manage to disable the Towers that are jamming your tech tools. These towers have been set by Edward Nigma (ring a bell?), and once you deactivate each one you can also destroy 10 relay transmitters which (and get a trophy for doing it!) bounce Nigma’s signal around the area.
The main story for the game should keep you busy for about 8-10 hours, but working on everything else the game has to offer (capturing other villains or foiling their plans, helping those under attack by corrupt police officers or thugs, finding collectibles) will add about 12 hours on top of that. As for getting a platinum trophy for the game, you should be warned that Batman: Arkham Origins features an online mode that will keep you busy for about another 10 hours depending on your skill (and luck) in order to unlock the final set of trophies required for that shiny Plat. It’s basically similar to the Spies vs Mercs Multiplayer mode on Splinter Cell Blacklist but with the obvious Batman motif and gameplay mechanics that give it a nice spin.
Going back to the Platinum trophy for a bit, you actually need to finish the game AT LEAST 3 times in order to unlock this trophy because you have to finish it once during a regular run, and THEN you have to do a New Game Plus run for the whole game to unlock the “I Am The Night” mode.
When playing in the “I Am The Night” mode, you only have a single life to finish the entire game, and if you DO die, you have to start again. Mind you, this is not the same as having to finish the entire game in one sitting because the game autosaves at certain points, and this allows you to pause the game and select to restart from the last checkpoint if you’re about to die (but you have to be fast before the game saves) or you can back-up your save to the cloud with PS+ and restore it if you do end up dying.
Batman: Arkham Origins is not a perfect game, but it’s still above and beyond what other companies have released in 2013. The combat is fun (but features a different timing window) and the new crime scenes are a nice step in the right direction and the story for the game enhances the Batman mythos leading into Arkham Asylum. With a single player mode that closes in on the 10 hour mark. Add the multiplayer mode to keep you busy right after that, and the game offers a lot of content for your investment.
[review pros=”Good story
A lot of content” cons= “Some long loading times when first loading your save
Different flow for combos than in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City” score=80]