Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City redefined what it meant to fight crime as the World’s Greatest Detective. The games’ Freeflow combat system allowed Dark Knight to fight criminals with a rhythmic style and speed that made players feel empowered. In predator mode, Batman subdues armed goons with a variety of firepower without being detected. If patient and analytical enough, players could utilize the Bat’s gadgets like the Batarang, the Grapple Hook, and smoke pellets to instill fear into your adversaries. Past the action-packed battles and stealthy maneuvers, moments of quiet reflection and discovery engross players in the comic book lore. Batman has always struck from the shadows, but it seems that he can’t escape the shadow of his previous successful games.
The story of Arkham Origins follows early-career Batman’s encounters with big-name villains like The Joker, Bane, and Deathstroke during Christmas Eve. It starts out as the Dark Knight fighting against eight dangerous assassins with a bounty on his head, turns into (SPOILER) another Batman and Joker capper.
What could have been an interesting plot, oversaturated with characters that flesh out the Batman mythos, and doesn’t pay off. Nothing that made us see this dark and complex hero differently. The relationships between Batman and his rouge gallery felt shallow as the villains felt more like conventional video game mechanics–simply, boss battles. Arkham Origins is not a horrible tale, but it fails to live up to the fantastic stories of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
Related: NYCC 2013: Arkham Origins Panel
Gameplay-wise, Origins brings back the same FreeFlow combat system players have experienced in previous games. Batman punches, kicks, and counters enemy strikes with such finesse that it almost seems choreographed. In Arkham City, Rocksteady improved on the formula allowing the Caped Crusader to use his gadgets in the middle of combat with the “quickfire” button. It made fights feel unique and challenging as certain enemies would need to be taken down by various devices.
This third installment includes some good and not-so-good ideas to the mechanic like the Remote Grapple and the Shock Gloves. Using the Remote Grapple as Batman can pull–more like “crash” two objects–enemies together with a zipline cable. It brings a whole new dynamic to the stealth gameplay. The Shock Gloves, however, detract from the experience. Batman’s newest weapon is basically a cheap cop-out. With its electrical charge, the vigilante can break through enemy armor, and significantly damage them. Bosses, armored crooks, don’t stand a chance, defeating the purpose of being smart with your fists and tools in combat!
Unfortunately, some bugs and glitches that halted my progression in the story a few times. WB Montreal is preparing to deal with these bugs in the upcoming week. It seemed like the new developers were so intimidated by tackling such a popular game franchise that they didn’t want to mess it up and just rehashed old ideas and painted a new coat on top of it, to say they did it.
Arkham Origins keeps the same old gameplay formula together that every Bat-fan loves from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but it doesn’t bring new dynamics to the game series: both story and gameplay wise. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s disappointing to see a game series that brought a breath of fresh air to the Batman mythos become so bland and inert. Hopefully previous game developers Rocksteady will return to make another great Batman game we know they’re capable of making.