Batman: Arkham Origins
Fluid gameplay and captivating storyline
At times I felt myself losing interest in the streets of Gotham between missions
Batman: Arkham Origins is the third title in the Batman: Arkham series and any fans of the series so far would know that this prequel has a lot to live up to.
Unfortunately placed on the night of Christmas Eve, we find Gotham City’s genius billionaire playboy philanthropist out alone to fight some crime. Being a prequel of the other Arkham titles, I found myself wondering if it would be any good as there have been other series that attempt the whole “prequel” thing but tend to do a little crashing and burning. Thankfully, they were able to hit the nail on the head with this one! Everything shows the early stages of Batman very well, from his unrefined Batsuit, older CRT monitors stacked on top of each other to make the Bat Computer and his lack of artistic ability to draw a bat with his explosive gel. Running through the streets of Gotham, you will constantly be hearing guards, police and thugs claiming that Batman was only a rumour and you can’t possibly be real… then you get to punch them in the face.
The main part of Batman: Arkham Origins is to not die. This is because you are being hunted by eight of the deadliest assassins from the DC Comics Universe, such as Copperhead, Killer Croc and the amazing Deathstroke. Side note: you will find yourself having a laugh when you first run into and fight Electrocutioner. You need to work out the weaknesses of each of the assassins as they approach you in combat, which can be a true pain in the rear. Apart from locking horns with these skilled assassins, you will also find yourself fighting hordes of less skilled thugs. This is where the fighting really gets fun. Fans of the series would know of the joys of linking together perfect combos and counters. The developers know how gigiddy you got over this combat system and have made it even better and more refined in Arkham Origins. Coming up against guys with bats, guns, knives, body armour and giant dudes who just have a bad temper, you need to time counters, dodges, punches and use your gadgets to survive – looking freaking awesome in the process. This fighting was fluid and always had me running through the streets of Gotham just to look for people to beat up.
The main storyline keeps you hooked and moving through, plus there are constant side storylines that pop up which extend the depth (however these are not needed to continue through the main missions). To slow it down from the fighting, you can take on the role of a crime scene investigator, which is even more fun on the WiiU. As you move the WiiU Gamepad, the motion is duplicated in-game, putting together pieces of evidence which show how the crime has gone down. By walking around the room you fast forward/rewind a reenactment of the crime to look for and analyse clues; such as a fallen bullet shell, a torn piece of cloth or DNA of where a person hit the floor. I wish there were more of these scenes, but the ones that were there were a lot of fun and a good addition to the game.
I did feel that, however beautiful it is, the city of Gotham was more of a ‘hub’ connecting different mission instances together. They have tried to counter this with unlocking fast-travel locations and random crime notifications from the police scanners for you to go stop (if you so wish).
It is good to get to know the earlier stages of Batman in this prequel, as well as finding some earlier stories of other characters including the Riddler, The Joker and Black Mask. There are some great plot twists that had me thinking and second guessing who is what and who killed that and why Alfred keeps putting up with my crap (in such a timely fashion as well!), but it definitely backs up what I said earlier that the story does keep you hooked. But what about after the story? Never fear! There is a multiplayer aspect worked into this game, which while not too popular is still a really good addition. There are also mini challenges, such as the Deathstroke DLC which lets you kick butt as Deathstroke! Once completing the main story on a certain difficulty level, you unlock different modes to launch, so you will find yourself coming back to this game (either that or just never putting it down).
I definitely recommend this game for any fans of the series, Batman or the DC Comics universe. If you haven’t played this series yet, Warner Bros. have released a trilogy box set of all three Batman Arkham games in one, so I suggest taking a look at that!