GC Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

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It’s always hard to top games that have raised the bar exponentially, especially in the same generation where the console hardware remains the same and there isn’t much scope for technical wizardry. The problem that arises out of this is that even if the game manages to be really fun and well designed, there’s always a lingering thought that it isn’t doing much.

Batman: Arkham Origins, while being a prequel to the two exceptional Batman games released this gen, falls to the same trap that games before it have faced. If you look at Uncharted 3, Mass Effect 3 and the likes, they were all great games in their own right, but arguably their predecessors did it better and made a big impression into the minds of people.

It’s not easy to impress people with either technical proficiency or gameplay innnovation so late in a console generation, but what is possible is making a damn good game. While the formula may be repetitive, if a game can get the basics right, it can provide hours of entertainment.

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Batman: Arkham Origins falls in this list. Being a huge Batman fan, looking forward to this game was a no brainer, and considering Rocksteady Studios weren’t behind the game, there was a little skepticism in the product. However, Warner Bros. Montreal have done a fantastic job in keeping the formula intact and crafting an intelligent game.

This is a prequel to the Batman games released so far so you will see a younger Batman, cooler Alfred, Batcave and tons of menacing enemies. In fact the entire premise of the game revolves around Christmas and how there’s a bounty to get rid of the Batman.

Famous supervillians have noticed the bounty set by Blackmask, and Batman has to survive and protect Gotham. Of course, the plot isn’t that simplistic and there will be a lot of twists and turns; some predictable and some you probably wouldn’t have seen coming. This is all made even better by the fantastic writing in the game. There are no cringeworthy sentences here.

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The game looks gorgeous on the PS3. It was the first thing that stood out when I started playing and I have to say the pacing and the entire design makes the world better than the one in Arkham Asylum and City.

Since there are supervillians after Batman, there are some interesting boss fights as well. Some will be extremely frustrating and here’s where many players will choose whether to continue forward in the game or not. I love nicely designed boss fights, however, when you keep missing QTEs and keep dying then that’s just bad design.

The combat is similar to the previous games in the series and this has to be a huge negative, but why change something that works really well? The city has also been recycled but has a Christmas decor. There are familiar Riddler collectibles and other activities you can perform to develop Batman’s skills while not doing a mission.

This time you can participate in a multiplayer mode and needless to say it’s not something you’ll be playing for a long time due to netcode issues, and the fact that there are so many better multiplayer games out there.

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As you keep playing there’s a feeling of repetitiveness; been there done that feeling that’s hard to shake off. Batman: Arkham City was released a few years ago and was a huge critical success, and most gamers still remember that game fondly. I guess that kind of hurts this game because it is so similar in nature.

The plot can only carry a game for so long and in a game where open-world and linearity have been mixed together, unless the pacing is perfect and keeps you engaged in the story, it is very difficult to not get bored after playing for a while. If you choose to play through the plot, Batman still needs to grow stronger and that will force you to do the extra missions, which again, creates annoyance.

Fans of Batman games will feel at home here because it’s just more of what they love and has been improved quite a bit too. People who loved the Batman games but want something new might get discouraged after playing for a while, but at its core Warner Bros. Montreal have crafted a splendid game that is worth playing for the story itself.

Score

8.0/10