Batman: Arkham Origins had it task cut out from the moment it was announced. With Rocksteady announcing that they’re not making the next Arkham game, fans got apprehensive from the get go and it wasn’t going to be easy for Warner Montreal to maintain the high standards set by the original developer.
However, Origins doesn’t really hit you as something unique or different from what was seen in the previous iterations of the series. But does it manage to impress? Let’s find out.
Warner Montreal had two choices in their hands, either they were to make use of the Origins story that they have decided to make and execute things differently or they were to stick to what the original developers had laid as a foundation and improved upon that. It seems to have taken the second option, taking the more traditional safer route out of the two, and we must say it was a wise choice.
Origins is the story of, well, the early years of the Dark Knight and follows his exploits just two years after he donned the cape. It’s Christmas night and it’s proven to be chilly for our hero in more ways than one. Notorious crime overlord Black Mask has invited some of the most prized assassins to carry out a job for him. To kill Batman and he’s willing to pay $50 million as bounty to anyone who does it. This forms the basic premise of the story and we must say it’s rather interesting with lots of twists and turns along the way, which is the staple of any good detective narration.
Alas, the story is the only thing original and new about this game. Origins sticks to the proven formula created by Rocksteady gameplay wise and anyone who has played the previous two games will feel right at home from the get go. The combat system is a carbon copy of the previous games and manages to maintain the same amount of fluidity that was seen in the earlier versions. The variations only arrive in terms of new enemy types, with a few new criminals thrown into the mix for you to fight off like martial artists who can counter you back.
Even the predator vision and detective system remains identical and offers you more of the same that you experienced in the previous outings. This doesn’t mean you won’t be having fun though. Swinging from one high point to another while taking out enemies, and silently taking off your preys and vanishing into the dark, leaving the others terrified remains just as fun to execute. Although, freshness isn’t something you can relate with this game.
Exploration wise, it’s somewhat similar to Arkham City with you being able to explore vast areas in terms of the city itself while also needing to enter smaller ones in order to progress the story. It’s not an open-world per say as there is no life or activity in the streets of Gotham apart from enemies spread across the map while you swing from one place to another. A neat new addition is randomly occurring crimes which you can prevent and some other larger ones which usually have a main villain involved. These include Enigma, whom you need to fend off and also some rather interesting ones like Anarchy and…you’ll have to find out.
The Caped Crusader;s arsenal of gadgets remains as interesting as before with many of the previous tools making a comeback. You’ll still have access to ones including the grappling hook, Batarangs, explosive gels and others. Thankfully, a few new inclusions are there as well which includes shock gloves and a remote Batclaw. These open up new avenues for Batman to fight off enemies and tackle challenges.
The levelling up system remains more or less the same and you need to earn experience points and level up in order to upgrade your abilities, suit or skills. However, Arkham Origins isn’t always a repeat and one particular section that it improves upon substantially are the boss battles. The boss battles in this game are engaging and fun most often than not and fending off the assassins who are out to kill you is always entertaining and gives you a sense of excitement.
The visuals remain almost the same as the previous Batman game and the animations are fluid and the character models realistic. The environment also retains the sense of cartoony realism which was evident in the previous games. However, Origins feels nothing like…well…an Origins game and it simply is a repeat of the previous experiences we had.
Overall, Batman: Arkham Origins is by no means a boring or broken game, but it leaves a lot to be desired and doesn’t really justify a $60 purchase at times. The more you play the game, the more you realize that it’s the same package wrapped in a shiny new albeit polished wrapper. Which is when you tend to get bored of it. Warner Montreal doesn’t introduce anything we haven’t seen before and instead tries to cash in on the formula laid out by its predecessors, something which still works, but the appeal isn’t the same.