Batman Arkham Origins Review
Can The Best Get Better?
Anyone who has read my previous review of Batman Arkham City will know that it is my favourite game of all time.
It has the best combination of story, combat, sneakiness and all round super hero gameplay of any game I have ever known.
Is it possible for 'Arkham Origins' to break the curse of the prequel and go one better than that?
Read on to find out more.
Goin' Back To My Boots
As I understand it, Rocksteady, the (IMO amazing) developer of the Batman Arkham series, is currently hard at work on Batman Arkham Knight, the fully next generation Batman game.
So it was with some trepidation that fans heard Warner Brothers' Montreal studio would take over for this iteration.
It's set back in the second year of Batman's tenure as a superhero and purports to introduce many of his arch-enemies, before he really knew them.
I, like many others, watched its progress with bated breath, wondering what the outcome would be.
It launched worldwide on 25th October ...and got very mixed reactions.
Some of the web's main games sites put it down for "not pushing the series forward", while many players who had pre-ordered it, complained of multiple game-breaking bugs... not a good start!
I watched the news and finally broke down and bought my own copy, after reading that the bugs were already being addressed with patches for all platforms (following an official public apology from Warner Brothers, no less).
I put the disk in the drive and sure enough, the Xbox told me there was an update available, which I downloaded immediately.
The game started up... And we were off!
Some great animated menus set the scene and I must say, an excellent and atmospheric introductory video, as I started a new game.
So Far, So Batman
So far, I have played roughly 3-4 hours and have encountered no glitches at all (I will update this review once I have experienced more of it).
My conclusions so far? - I think that it is definitely worth it.
My observations are that the graphics are improved still further from the previous games - not by much, but enough to notice.
The video 'cut scenes' are highly cinematic and blend in perfectly with the action.
The in game menus are quite different this time round, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your viewpoint.
In keeping with the prequel concept, they have a more retro theme, while still managing to look modern and techie, like Batman should.
They're taking a little while for me to get used to, but at the moment, I think they are clearer than before and make more sense of what is happening within the game.
The only downside to this is that Batman's upgrades are now in 'tech trees', similar to what you might find in a strategy game.
This means that certain upgrades can only be gained once you have upgraded the ones before them and some players may find this a little bit too restrictive.
However, there are several of these trees with multiple branches, so it looks like there is still some room for choice and strategy.
Time will tell!
If you are already a fan like me, the gameplay is more of what you know and love.
With the gorgeous free flow combat, I was back into cracking heads together in no time at all.
I am playing on Normal difficulty and I have noticed already that even early story missions have more thugs on screen than ever before.
Into the mix, I have also encountered new enemy types, which gave some real variation on those I have met before.
Basic thugs too seem to be a little bit quicker on their feet, so be ready on that Counter button.
The original and some would say, the best.
It certainly has a great story, which will reel you in right from the start.
The World's Loneliest Detective
One thing I would say is that after the introductory section, which walks you through the basic controls, the city opens up, but it feels like you are much more "on your own".
The game is good at explaining things that are completely new (such as the updates to detective mode), but often assumes you know others.
There have been a couple of situations where I only did something because I already knew what to do from the previous games - and wondered how a player new to the series would manage.
For new folk, I would recommend checking out and trying all of Batman's moves as soon as you can, to get the best out of it.
At least all the actions are clearly described in the in-game menus, so you can have a read, if you get truly stuck.
If you are finding Batman is regularly getting his cape handed to him on a plate from early on, then you may want to restart the game on Easy!
The map is the same city as before - parts of it look nearly identical, but it is expanded somewhat compared to Arkham City, so there are still plenty of new things to see too.
To counteract the increased size, there are fast travel points you can unlock (I won't say how) so you can move about quickly in the Batwing.
Best game ever? You decide!
So does Arkham Origins beat Arkham City and take the crown?
Well ...I'll withhold my judgement on it for the moment.
There are enough new things to keep me interested and I am enjoying the core gameplay as much as I always have.
In particular, I want to see how the story goes, although the early signs are looking good.
For the game sites that have complained about there not being enough changes: why is it that I rarely see those kind of comments for first person shooters, like Call of Duty, for example??
Overall, I am so far very pleased with my purchase and would surely recommend it to you.
*Update On Gameplay*
Well, I'm a few more hours into the game now - perhaps a few more hours in than I really should be *cough* (what was that about bedtime?) and ...you've guessed it, I'm loving it.
Whether or not the story eventually lives up to its predecessors, I'm enjoying it immensely and I'm just as addicted to the gameplay as before.
I have had no crashes or freezing issues and the only bug I have come across is one where it won't update a predator challenge to acknowledge that I completed it without being seen. Irritating yes, but hardly game breaking.
Really enjoying the improved detective mode, which reconstructs the scene of the crime and allows you to play through it and "rewind" to find various clues.
I'm also finding an interesting interplay between a younger, much angrier Batman and the other characters, both friend and foe.
I would say that if this is the first Batman game for you to think about, then go back and play the others first.
Otherwise - go get it already!
Well, what can I say? I've been playing the game non-stop as it is so addictive (just like the others) and got to the end of the story.
I can safely say that the story is excellent and is well worth it, with 2 or 3 "that was awesome" moments thrown in, for good measure.
If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is!
Arkham Knight Coming To Consoles
The next (and probably final) in the series, Batman Arkham Knight is coming to next gen consoles and PC in April 2015.
Originally slated for October this year, it was delayed in order to get it "just right".
It is being developed by Rocksteady again (hooray!) and this time will feature the Batmobile (hooray again!)
© 2013 Tim Bader