When a great game franchise is passed on to a new developer more often than not gamers usually expect the worst. Take Devil May Cry as a prime example as when it was first announced that Ninja Theory were re-booting the franchise, all hell broke loose. It even got to the point where Ninja Theory were receiving death threats from “Die Hard DMC Fans”
So as you can imagine when it was first announced that Warner Bros Montreal were making Batman: Arkham Origins alarm bells started ringing for Arkham fans. Even though WB Montreal were the developers responsible for porting Arkham City to the Wii U there wasn’t much beyond this on their CV, so you could understand why gamers were a bit nervous. After playing the Arkham Origins however there is no mistaking that this is a solid game and WB Montreal have really done the series justice.
What makes Arkham Origins noticeably different from the previous Arkham games is the fact that this is an origin story. Set two years into Bruce Wayne’s career as ‘The Batman’, on a snowy Christmas eve the super villain known as Black Mask has put a $50,000 bounty on the caped crusader’s head. Eight assassins rise up to the challenge, each thinking that this is a great way to score some easy cash. In classic DC comic book fashion the plot thickens from there, as this simple hit is never what it seems. Without diving too much into spoiler territory I can safely say that the overall story line of Arkham Origins pays great homage to the original Batman comics with both its story telling and re-imagining of lesser known Batman Villains.
After playing the game for a few hours we soon come to realise that WB Montreal have a ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ attitude when it comes to the game play. The combo system and the majority of the weapons have been left untouched, with a couple of new gadgets added to Batman’s arsenal. You now have the remote claw and the electric gauntlets at your disposal. At first these new gadgets can seem way overpowered, for example once you get your hands on the electric gauntlets your combos will become super powered meaning that taking out a room of bad guys becomes a lot less challenging. The same goes with the remote claw, as once it is levelled up fully you will be able to string up bad guys from a distance. Luckily both of these gadgets do have their limits as the gauntlets have to be powered up with combos before you can use them, and the Remote Claw can only string up two bad guys per room.
Detective mode has been given a new look as Batman now has the added bonus of reconstructing a crime scene before your very eyes. Once you come across a crime scene you can jump into detective mode and analyse each and every clue separately. This in turn will reconstruct how the crime happened. This a good take on the classic detective mode and really helps with the games story telling.
As the game is set on Christmas eve there are definitely a signs of festive cheer in Gotham, with decorations and lights strewn across the city. Getting around Gotham has been left relatively untouched with the combination of you Batclaw and gliding around the city getting the job done nicely. You also have the option to fast travel now using the Batwing should you get board of gliding around. The city itself is very much like Arkham city with the additions of the Gotham Bridge (which I must admit is pretty fun to glide across) and the South Side of Gotham. The map doesn’t feel that much bigger compared to its predecessor and the fact that a curfew has been put in place across Gotham City restricting all civilians to their homes, means the map feels very much like Arkham City as the it’s flooded by thugs, criminals and the occasional SWAT team for you to beat up.
Collectibles make a welcome come back in the form of Enigma Boxes which are Arkham Origins answer to Riddler trophies. There are also Network Relays, Anarchy tags and Cyrus Pinkney Plaques plastered across the whole of Gotham City for the Dark Knight to track down. Throughout the game you will also unlock challenge maps which can be accessed through the Batcave this time around. Like the previous games there are two types of challenge map, combat and stealth. These maps are a great way to practice you combat and stealth skills and once completed can also unlock costumes for your caped crusader.
Something that has also been playing on gamers minds is the fact that Arkham Origins introduces new voice actors for both Batman and The Joker. Even though both Troy Baker and Rodger Craig Smith do a very good job they don’t have the Iconic edge that Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy. This however is not game breaking and shouldn’t put any fan off of playing Arkham Origins as the game still maintains the same atmosphere that Arkham Asylum and Arkham City have. The graphics are still top notch with the occasional frame rate drop during cut scenes and the musical score still has the grand metropolis feel to it like it did in Arkham City.
+ Game play has been built upon not re-created
+ Plenty of collectibles for your to find
+ Great story that stays loyal to the comics and Arkham Fans
- Occasional frame rate drop during cut scenes
- Gotham City doesn’t differ a lot from Arkham City
- Bring back Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy
Arkham Origins is a worthy addition to the Arkham franchise with solid gameplay and story which just builds upon the Arkham Universe this is a good game to pick up for newcomers and fan’s alike. Sure there is the occasional frame rate drop and the voices are noticeably different but Arkham Origins is defiantly one better games released this year.