By Logan Barnes
The “Arkham” series has always been a beautiful diamond in the gaming world. It shone with “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and the cut was perfected with “Batman: Arkham City.”
But, with “Arkham Origins,” they may have cut off just a little too much.
Despite the original “Arkham” developers, Rocksteady Studios, passing development duties to Warner Bros. Games Montreal, the new team was given access to all of Rocksteady’s resources. Somehow, though, they’ve managed to take those resources and make the gameplay feel just a bit wrong. The story, at least, remains strong.
“Batman: Arkham Origins” follows the story of Bruce Wayne in his second year of being Batman. Still considered a myth by most normal citizenry and the police, Batman is despised by the criminals of Gotham City. This leads to the notorious villain, Black Mask, putting a $50 million bounty on Batman’s head, and calling eight ruthless assassins to hunt him down. Outside of the bounty hunters, other Batman villains, such as the Joker and the Mad Hatter, make appearances as well, leading to a high-octane, all-night showdown between the Dark Knight and his foes.
While the storyline is great, the graphics are still solid and the new voice actors are superb, the game has lost its edge in combat, made Gotham City a bit hard to move in and seems to have programmed in more glitches than there should be.
As far as graphics, they remain largely unchanged from “Arkham City,” no surprise considering the game was made from the same resources. That’s not to say the game doesn’t look good, because it still manages to maintain the gritty feeling of the previous “Arkham” games perfectly.
Also, new voice actors have taken over the roles of Batman and the Joker, two principle players in the “Arkham” games. Instead of being portrayed by the 90’s animated series actors, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, Batman and the Joker are now portrayed by Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker, respectively. Both actors do the roles justice, with Smith sounding like a young Kevin Conroy and Baker being just as devious as Hamill’s Joker.
But despite these positives, the game has really lost its touch in some elements of gameplay, especially in the game’s signature free-flow combat system.
In combat now, the counter-attack indicator will sometimes not appear until a split-second before Batman is struck. Batman will also warp around the battlefield if the game thinks he’s too close to a wall, or when larger foes are making attacks.
Also during combat, the camera is your worst enemy. Instead of focusing on the target Batman is fighting, the camera will pan during attacks to circle him. This leads to many broken combos as the direction you need to push to attack changes mid-combat, or when an enemy that’s suddenly off-camera attacks you.
This breaking of gameplay also seems to have affected simply moving around. While gliding through the city, ledges that look like they would be easy to grapple onto and that you can stand on, have no grapple indicator at all. Also, larger buildings easily block your path with no way to go over them, forcing you to take the long, circling route.
Finally, the game is awash with glitches both in and outside of combat. From the aforementioned warping during a fight, to getting stuck in the ground, walls and objects, “Arkham Origins” has some problems that make themselves apparent. There’s also significant graphical stuttering during cut scenes and in certain parts of Gotham, at times rendering the game almost unplayable.
There’s also a completely unnecessary, tacked-on, online multiplayer that pits teams of player-controlled thugs in goal-oriented combat with one another, while player-controlled Batman and Robin attempt to stop their plans. It definitely feels like the “Arkham” world was not meant for multiplayer at all and this mode really adds nothing to the experience, but is completely optional, so it takes nothing away.
Overall, “Batman: Arkham Origins” isn’t necessarily a bad game, it’s just not an amazing game when compared to the previous entries in the series. A great storyline and cast will manage to drive players forward despite the intermittent glitches and combat failings.
“Batman: Arkham Origins” earns the latest entry in the Dark Knight’s world an 8/10.