Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Like many nerds with money to burn, I pre-ordered Batman: Arkham Origins ages ago and as such my forward planning was rewarded when the slightly angry looking postman dropped it off this morning; the day of release.

If you’re not familiar with the franchise, Batman: Arkham Something is now three games (this new one being the third) and has been showered with so many awards you’d think the CEO of Warner Bros Games was Adele. You play The Goddamn Batman as you zip around an island asylum and then an Escape of LA style city-based prison, punching criminals in their turkey faces and growling.

2009’s Arkham Asylum was Game of the Year, and in 2011 Arkham City came out and was also Game of the Year. The decision, then, to move development of Arkham Origins away from series creator studio Rocksteady is a puzzling one. Maybe Warner Bros fear success and having two games buried in gold is akin to their worst nightmare. Who’s to say?

Arkham Origins is set 5 years prior to the events of Arkham Asylum, where a newly minted Batman patrols the streets of Gotham in a slightly less polished manner and in a somewhat shoddier suit. He’s not been caping up for long, so it’s something of Year One stype story. Having knackered up the plans of criminal skull-head The Black Mask, Batman finds himself with a bounty on his head so big the shares in coconut must have tripled. 

There are 8 assassins hoping to add the cowl to their gory mantlepieces, and Batman need to find out what the bloody hell is going before somone shoots that notion out of the back of his head and against the wall behind him. Thrilling stuff indeed.

Now, I’ve been playing this bad boy for about 5 hours now and it’s pretty great. There’s no discernable missteps from the new studio (WB Games Montreal). The transition is pretty seamless, and if I hadn’t told you I doubt you’d notice that anything had changed at all. Except the voice acting. 

There’s no Kevin Conroy as Batman and no Mark Hamill as The Joker. In fact there’s no Joker at all, since Batman hasn’t met him yet. The controls are the same as previous games, with the emphasis on building combos and countering attacks from vast hordes of interchangeable thug clones. There’s the usual smoke bomb + Grapling Hook = Perched on Gargoyles stealthing about, as well as plenty of Riddler Trop… sorry “Enigma Data Packets” to be collected.

My only real problem at this stage is really down to the lack of change. If WB Montreal had started futzing with the formula and removed a load of gamplay mechanics I’d be annoyed, but they’ve taken nothing… and added nothing. I might wind up being proved wrong by some awesome new system to be introduced later in the game where Batman pilots a colossal Megazord with a cape made of fire and canons for eyes, but thus far it’s very much business as usual.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I loved the shit out of the other two games. But I’ve got those games already. If I wanted to play something the same as Arkham City, I’d have saved myself £34.99 and played Arkham City. 

Like I say, it’s possible I’m jumping the gun here, but several hours in with nothing fresh on the table I think my point my stand.

Words by Gazz Wood