Batman’s long history is something which serves him well. The Caped Crusader has given us many moments of entertainment in the form of comic books, films, novels and video games. Most notably and probably some of the most acclaimed in his history are the Arkham series of games. Heavily inspired and thoroughly enjoyable, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City we’re two of the best action-adventure game’s I’ve played over the years. Delving into the gritty world of Gotham, particularly the Arkham realm, it provided an aspect of Batman we hadn’t seen before and gave us some stellar mechanics such as the free-flow combat system. But with the third iteration in the series with us, Arkham Origins, it doesn’t feel as inspired as it’s predecessors.
One thing that Arkham City prided itself upon was making use of a huge open world, for the first time in a Batman game. Something which was very well received by fans. Origins gives us an even larger open world, but it doesn’t feel right. It just feels larger for the sake of being larger than it’s predecessors. Rappelling to rooftops and gliding from them still feel as good as ever, but it’s not a bigger leap just because the world is a lot bigger. Side missions will also have you running around the city for extra play time, but rather than making use of a new IP they have here, these side missions just feel all too similar to Arkham City’s.
The free-flow combat is unchanged from the previous titles but still feels as dynamic and brutal as ever. The combat mechanics is probably the most notable thing in the Arkham series, chaining together combos and counters to take down an array of enemies feels great but again is unchanged. Enemies are all too easy to take down, but chaining together moves looks brilliant and there’s nothing better than slamming a goon straight in the face.
Arkham City made a huge leap from Asylum. Building on that form and lifting it’s mechanics and putting them into a brand new and heavily inspired landscape. Origins however takes these mechanics and lifts them into the exact same setting only with a different story. You still do everything you would in Arkham City, swinging from rooftops, use the batclaw to pull yourself about and break fuse boxes with your guided batarangs, it all feels very predictable. Occasionally you do come across something fresh, but these encounters are swiftly forgotten over the straight forward and all round unsurprising gameplay of Origins. Nearly everything you do here is a replication of Arkham City.
The story however in Origins does bring something fresh to the table. Telling the ‘Origin’ story of Batman and how his adversaries we see in the previous games became his enemies. Interestingly also we see the relationship between Commissioner Gordon and Batman formed here, also exploring the infamous relationship between the Joker and Batman, although the new voice acting for Joker doesn’t feel right. We also see throughout the story how many question the existence of the Batman and how this broils down into a world filled with organized crime and assassins.
Batman’s Christmas begins with an elusive character known as The Black Mask. The organised crime lord who is tired of Batman’s efforts to thwart his operations puts a bounty on the Caped Crusader’s head. Calling eight of the world’s most deadliest assassins to attempt to bring Batman to The Black Mask. Here we meet characters such as Bane and Deathstroke. Although these characters may seem like tough fights, in actual fact they’re not. They have an elevated sense of drama to them in which both characters exchange words between them, but the fights in themselves are just escalated versions of normal goon fights. Some requiring you to stun them and others requiring you to counter them a few times.
Arkham Origins also features a multiplayer mode. Split into three teams of Bane’s thugs, Joker’s henchmen and Batman and Robin. Seems cool right? Well in actual fact, when it comes down to it the gameplay itself seems very sloppy. In reality this should be a great extension from the single-player, where criminals need to be steadfast and vigilant against the heroes who are hunting them. Being able to sprint for only a short amount of time makes the criminals feel very weak and disposable, in addition to this weapon accuracy is all over the place and bugs plague the maps.
Batman: Arkham Origins had potential to extend upon the fresh mechanics in which Arkham City gave us. But what it does in actual fact is just lift them from it’s predecessors and place it into a new name with a new story. Everything feels very uninspired here whether it be from the side missions, the free-flow combat, even to the world itself. You’re not getting anything new here, you’re getting more of the same.