23 Dec

Batman: Arkham Origins

Filed under: PC Games No Responses


Breaking bones and beating thugs bloody is totally okay so long as you don’t actually kill them.

Between the bug reports and the derivative gameplay, I’d decided early on not to buy Batman: Arkham Origins. But then it went on sale for a few measly dollars and I just couldn’t resist. And you know what, even though I kept telling myself that I should be playing anything other a rehash of the same familiar game mechanics, I enjoyed myself anyway.

  • Obviously I know nothing of what the immediate post-launch experience was like. Presumably the worst bugs have long since been fixed. I did get have some glitches and clipping issues, but they were minor and didn’t impede gameplay. The worst bug I had was that I occasionally couldn’t interrogate informants after beating up them up. To fix that, I had to restart the game and beat the thugs up all over again. It’s hard to deny that the overall experience is less polished than its predecessors but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

  • To my eternal embarrassment, I thought something was wrong with the responsiveness of the controls in the very first fight of the game when the lowly thugs wiped the floor with me. But it turned out that I was just rusty and after a bit of practice and WayneTech upgrades, I was back to racking up higher streaks than ever before. I don’t think this game makes any changes in this department at all, except for giving you the totally overpowered shock gloves, but that one comes pretty late in the main story. The real questions are: why does the Electrocutioner suck so much and why didn’t Batman keep those totally awesome gloves?


Batman vs Deathstroke. Where’s Oliver Queen when you need him?
  • The big draw about this entry are the eight so-called assassins. To be honest, I found them to be disappointing though I can also understand how hard it is to design appropriate boss fights without adding radically new mechanics for each one. For example, the fight against Deathstroke feels cinematic but amounts to little more than a series of QTEs. Lady Shiva is basically just a souped-up martial artist. The Deadshot fight is basically a predator room with Deadshot himself being invulnerable to takedowns and so forth. Even the final Bane fight is a poor cousin of the Mr. Freeze fight in Arkham City. I really did not appreciate how many times you need to fight Bane in this game.
  • Another big bullet-point are the crime scene investigations. In reality, they amount to little more than an old-style pixel hunting exercise but I enjoyed them as a fun little diversion anyway and liked being able to playback the reenactment of the crime scene at will. I was even disappointed that the main story uses it so little. I think the investigation in the Black Mask’s apartment is the only place where a full CSI is played out. The rest are just hunting for little clues.
  • Riddler trophies have been replaced by Enigma datapacks. There’s now a nice reward in collecting them since completing each extortion file gives you access to a sound clip that reveals interesting little bits of the story. However collecting them is a real pain since many locations are only accessible if you have access to the full range of your utility belt tools and revisiting interior locations a second time just to hunt down the collectibles is a real pain due to all the backtracking.


Between Detective Vision and the Batcomputer, Batman puts even the most far-fetched of CSI leaps of logic to shame.
  • Even the story is a disappointment. This early Batman doesn’t seem less experienced or skilled, just more lonely and more of an asshole. I didn’t like how this is yet another game that is ultimately about the Joker. And the fact that this is supposedly set in Gotham city proper really breaks the fiction. An empty city populated only by thugs kind of makes sense in a prison city but not for what is supposedly a real city, even if it is Christmas Eve. There are some nice touches, like Alfred’s relationship with Batman and the Joker’s growing to realize how important Batman is to him, but it’s not enough to make up for how mediocre the rest of the story is.

Put together, this looks like just a long litany of complaints but the fact is that even though this is very much the work of the B-team, the core formula as designed and refined by Rocksteady is so good that I still enjoyed myself a great deal. Batman’s mobility and the excellence of the hand-to-hand combat is a combination that other games just can’t match. I inevitably will play Arkham Knight when it comes out, but I find myself even more fervently wishing that the formula be expanded to other characters. There is something as too much Batman after all. Green Arrow, given the success of the Arrow series seems like an obvious choice, and maybe they could tune the combat to be more focused on ranged fights. Other characters might be possible too but it must be important they have city-level rather than world-level powers. Blue Beetle maybe, though he’s too unpopular. The real prize would be opening up to Marvel characters who have a much larger library of city-level heroes. I would love to see a Spiderman game by Rocksteady. Also interesting would be Captain America, Daredevil, Black Widow and many, many others. Make it happen, Rocksteady.


Definitely not the last we’ll see of Gotham.
Written on December 23 2014 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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