Game Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

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Remember when, once upon a time, there was no such thing as a good Batman game? Times have changed.

game-batmanarkhamorigins2

Genre

Open World, Fantasy RPG

Platform

PC, Xbox 360, PS3. Wii U

Story

In the beginning, Batman had to deal with the random assortment of mobsters in town, who owned half of Gotham’s police force and politicians, as well as fighting the police out to stop a “mere vigilante.”  This game takes place on the Christmas Eve when everything changed.

Eight of the world’s deadliest assassins have all been hired to kill Batman by dawn on Christmas morning, and, knowing bad guys as he does, Batman can’t just stay home and wait for them to cause mass casualties just to draw him out.  Batman now has to go up against every criminal in Gotham and half the police force in order to find the mobster who put out the bounty, and call off the assassins before all of Gotham is destroyed in the crossfire.

Along the way, Batman will encounter practically every criminal psychopath who will ever haunt him.  A criminal known as Enigma is jamming his Batplane signals, an anarchist named Anarky is trying to blow up public buildings, and that’s before Batman gets a singing invitation to a tea party delivered by three gunmen in rabbit masks.

It’s all summed up in one line of Batman’s: “Who is this psychopath calling himself The Joker?”

Gameplay/Mechanics

If you’ve played either of the other Arkham games, you know the fight mechanics.  One button punches, one button counters an attack, and a combination of the trigger and four other buttons will unleash a gadget-based attack. Simple, right?

Well, things now get a little more complicated.  There are bad guys who are trained martial artists who can counter Batman’s counters, so the player has to counter again. There are boss fights in the game where one must think tactically in order to win—which can be difficult even on easy.

And then there are the crime scene reconstruction sequences.  In the last game, detective mode enabled the player to track bullet trajectories and follow blood drops.  In this case, it can reconstruct entire crime scenes from any angle.  The first crime scene is an exploding door panel, and Batman can stand in the blast as the reconstruction plays out.  It’s really rather spectacular, and outdoes anything put forward by CSI.

Music/Graphics

If graphics become any better, we might as well just motion capture actors and film them in the game.  The streets of Gotham, the walls of the Batcave, and the details on Batman’s costume, all have texture.

The music is a solid, driving theme throughout the game. It’s definitely game-appropriate, but I don’t know if I would be bothered buying the soundtrack.

Morals/Appropriateness

This, like the other Arkham games, will be a little tricky.  The ESRB rating declares this as T for teen, which I agree with, but for different reasons.

ESRB claims that there is R-rated language in the game (or what would have once been rated R in the movies), but I didn’t notice any of that. However, the crime scene reconstructions are sort of violent, including a scene where someone is forced to shoot his girlfriend so she wouldn’t be burned alive.  Things like this are rare, reconstructed as a shadow play, with the people involved as shadows, so it is not graphic, but it’s not for children. And the fights are, once again, sort of brutal.

On straight morality, there is no question of the bad guys or the good guys. This is early Batman, where things are very black and white. The only questions of morality impact the player when James Gordon is on the screen – one good cop in a sea of corruption, where the law says that vigilantes are wrong by definition.

Community/Multiplayer

Arkham Origins also introduces a multiplayer component to the series. One mode, called “Invisible Predator Online,” revolves around a gang war in Blackgate Prison between the supervillains Joker and Bane. It involves a match of 3 Joker gang members against 3 Bane gang members against the team of Batman and Robin. Gangs win by killing all of the opposing team’s reinforcements, while Batman and Robin win by acquiring intimidation points from eliminating gang members.

At a specific point a gang member can become their respective boss – Joker or Bane – gaining more powerful abilities. Gang members have access to guns and explosives, while Batman and Robin have access to gadgets and abilities from the main game, including “Detective Vision”. Gang members have a limited “Enhanced Vision” which requires recharging

Addiction Danger

Will there be an addiction danger long term?  Uncertain.  However, in the short term, I went through this game and didn’t even notice the passage of time.  From the time I first turned on the game until the time I stopped, I played for about 7-8 hours without noticing.  There is so much content in this game, it feels like a vast playground with infinite bad guys to stop.  If you give this game to a teenager, and he insists that he can’t stop playing, tell him to just enter a building so the game’s autosave function will kick in, and he can get back to it later.

Problems/Ending Comments

I haven’t run into any problems yet, but I’m playing the Xbox 360.  I’ve heard the PC version is a little glitch.

This is a world so big, they need a fast travel system.  Unlike Arkham City, someone actually invested in having dialogue.  The attackers have varying lines as they attack, including the standard macho threats, to lines like “Don’t hurt me” and “Mommy.”  We also have multiple attacker types, as opposed to just different weapons.

Again, the ESRB rating states that this game has some crude language. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed. The biggest problems have been

ESRB Rating: T for teen

 

My Rating: PG-13, for language and martial arts violence that hurt to look at., as well as crime scene reconstructions.

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Copyright 2013 John Konecsni

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