So having immensely enjoyed "Arkham Asylum" and "Arkham City", it was a no brainer when "Arkham Origins" came out. Now, I may not have gotten it on release day like I had planned to, due to the job I had at the time thinking it was ok to employ people to work a 60 hour week for subsistence wages, with no breaks, meal time, holiday time etc etc, so the Bat didn't a come calling to my Xbox until my birthday in December, but, was it worth the wait?...well, yes and no.
First impressions upon starting the game were generally favourable, the control system was pretty much the same as the previous two entries, the game mechanics and sandbox environment made for good non linear playability, with no nasty "forced" action turning up when you're not ready for it, and the storyline was interesting enough to make it worth not skipping cut scenes. In addition, the side missions added the extra level of play time that I had gotten used to from the previous entries.
There were however some problems, but I will address those later..
The plot itself isn't too bad, albeit not as immersive as the previous games, in a nutshell, five years before the events of "Arkham asylum", on Christmas eve, the villain Black Mask places a bounty of $50 million on Batmans head. Batman, who at this point in time is still fairly new to the superhero game, finds himself being assailed by numerous deadly assassins in the form of Deathstroke, Deadshot, Copperhead, Electrocutioner, Shiva and Bane, as well as having to deal with the up and coming crime boss Oswald Cobblepot (who has taken to giving away free automatic weapons to Gothams street punks), and a mass breakout of prisoners form the nearby Blackgate prison, then to add final insult to injury, Batman finds himself having to deal with the shadowy high tech blackmailer known as "Enigma", the rebellious terrorist "Anarky", and a new villain who goes by the name "Joker".
Aided in his very busy night by Alfred and Barbara Gordon, Batman has to put a stop to all the criminal shenannigans and convince the mostly corrupt Gotham City Police that hes only trying to help.
Right, so, as I have said, the game plays pretty much identical to the previous games, and as such, the problems I had with them have been carried over to this game..
- Over/Under responsive and unforgiving controls - The combat system is fairly straight forward, hitting the X, Y and B buttons makes Batman launch a flurry of punches, kicks, throws and so on, then comboing them with the A, Lt and Rt buttons allows use of gadgets, combos, beatdown and takedown moves. This is all fine, however the games extensive "freeflow" combat system places a massive emphasis on keeping the flow of combat moving continuously in order to rack up the XP bonuses and to increase damage from attacks, which would be fine if it were not for the fact that it is ridiculously easy to lose control of the combat due to it being so quick and intensive, especially so when you have a couple of shield or knife wielding thugs backed up by armoured brutes or Venom supercharged gorilla thugs thrown in there for good measure. Quite often I find ill be in the middle of a 50 odd hit combo, only to find that Batman will fail to jump in the direction I'm pointing him in to attack someone, and will instead just stand still and throw a punch at thin air, or, more worse, will fail to counter an attack aimed at him while I'm mashing the counter button in the correct direction at the right time. Missing the timing quite often leads to the Dark Night getting his head caved in.
- Playtime - From start to finish, the main storyline took me about 10-12 hours of play, and, at the time of writing, I'm about 90% of the way through picking up the side mission stuff and finishing all the "Dark Knight" side objectives. Thus far ive spent about 20 or so hours total on the game and have pretty much completed all the "standard" stuff, seems a bit short to me.
- Replay - Ok, so completing the story mode unlocks the "New Game Plus" mode, which is basically a second play through of the main story, just harder due to no on screen prompts and more bad guys. The side missions this time round though are pretty easy, the Enigma data gathering is MUCH easier than the Riddler challenges of the previous two games, and the other most wanted side missions generally consist of beating somebody or a group of somebodies up. That said though, the crime scene reconstruction missions are pretty interesting, although they too end in you having to find someone and beat them up.
I dunno, although I do like this game, it is the weakest of the trilogy, basically being little more than the "Arkham" series' answer to "Batman Begins". Its storyline, although good, is nothing compared to the others, insofar as it seems fairly bland by comparison.
Also, large sections of the game world are almost identical copies of locations found in "Arkham City", which ok, fair enough, it is supposed to be the same location, but to me this seems lazy, as literally some of the areas are carbon copies from the previous game.
Finally, a lot of the games achievments are gotten from online play, and a hell of a lot of time is spent on promoting DLC and multiplayer content *sigh*
So all in all, "Batman: Arkham Origins" isnt bad, its not great either, and could have been tons better.
7 out of 10 broken noses.