So where does one go after creating a game as ground breaking and amazing as Batman: Arkham City? Well not very far as it were. It is a new year and with games like GTA V, The Last of Us, and BioShock Infinite hitting the shelves, it was a time for the Arkham Series to really step forward and continue to give us the video game gold that we have expected from the series up until this point and sadly it just didn’t hold up to snuff. Now that isn’t to say the game isn’t good. On the contrary, the game has some really fun and creative parts to it and continues to expand the mythos that the Arkham Series has laid out in front of us. But we will get to those in a few minutes. Can’t spoil all the details in the opening paragraph, right?
Batman: Arkham Origins is the prequel (yes, I know!) to the aforementioned games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It is the first Christmas that Gotham City has with its caped crusader lurking in the night for villains to stop. This has not gone unnoticed by some of Gotham’s most evil villains including Bruce Wayne’s former friend Roman Sionis better known as the Black Mask. Black Mask has placed a bounty of $50,000,000 for anyone who can kill the Batman. Assassins from all over the world including Deathstroke, Bane, Copperhead, The Electrocutioner, and more have come to collect the bounty and are also being assisted by a new Gotham victim known as ‘The Joker’ (DUN DUN DDDDUUUNNN). The story then follows Batman as he struggles to stay alive, bring the criminals to justice, and work with the newly appointed Commissioner Gordon.
Graphics and Gameplay are Spot On
Keeping in tradition with its predecessors, Arkham Origins has some stellar graphics and gameplay. They are nowhere near the level of Rocksteady’s work in the previous games, but they are certainly enjoyable. The graphics as always really bring the world of Gotham City alive give it the true interactive experience that a game should bring.
Gameplay is on par with the previous games and has the free flow experience of the other games, keeping on par with the tight fighting style that the series has become known for.
The Story Itself is Well Done for What It Is
We will get to the prequel stuff in a bit rest assured… But in all honesty, the story really isn’t all that bad. I mean… Remove the previous two games from the equation and base it just on the merit of being a Batman story and it is pretty damn good. Better than most of the Batman stories I have seen in the past.
The idea of eight assassins coming to kill the Batman, hired by Black Mask, and then throw Penguin and Joker into the mix for shits’n’giggles is a clever concept and one that seemed to be executed pretty well in my opinion.
Once again we find ourselves with a prequel and once again I find myself complaining about the exact same reasons that I bitch about every prequel. We as an audience know what is going to happen. We know for a fact which of these characters are going to live and which characters have a possibility of dying. We know Batman, The Joker, Bane, Alfred, Gordon, Black Mask, and all these other characters that appear in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City cannot die because they need to show up in the later installments. Anything that deviates from this course needs to be given a ‘hand wave exposition’ in order to fix it for the games that are to lead into it.
There are no stakes and with no stakes you quickly lose interest. You will have the people who will play the game for the shear fact of hearing another awesome Batman story… But when you give fans that guarantee that these certain characters aren’t going anywhere, then you lose a big chunk of what makes story telling so great!
Everything is a Downgrade from the First Two Games
Everything is a downgrade and I do mean everything in every regard. Luckily a ‘downgrade’ from a game like Arkham City is a downgrade from an A+ to a B+ But it is a downgrade none the less. Graphics, gameplay, story, character development, everything that you can name that makes a video game a video game is a downgrade from Arkham Origins’ predecessors.
I’m not giving it too much hell because a lot of the stuff still is pretty impressive. But the game just lacks the polish and fine craftsmanship that Rocksteady put on the first two games. I truly hope that for future installments they bring back Rocksteady who is without a shadow of a doubt superior to Warner Brothers Montreal.
It drives me nuts that there is still so much material left from Arkham City that has yet to be explored!!! Talk about a game that was pulling at the sequel strings. Almost all of its side content hinted at a sequel including a Harley Quinn pregnancy scare, Hush becoming Bruce Wayne, and above all else Azreal! And yet we get a prequel to the game and for what reason? Well personally in my opinion, I believe that the publishers were too afraid of selling a game without the Joker in it. I understand completely that the Joker is an iconic character and the anthesis of Batman… But come on! He had the perfect send off in Arkham City and I would rather see the continuing of the narrative instead of back tracking just to include some pointless back story and characters that do not need more exposition.
Strictly on the level of it being a video game, Batman Arkham Origins is really good. The graphics are good, gameplay is good, and story is good… But thanks to its two predecessors the game just falls flat. It is a prequel and thus has the problems that all prequels bring and at the end of the day is just a major downgrade from the quality that we expect from the Arkham Series. It is a good game, but it isn’t coming close to competing with the front-runners for Game of the Year.
Final Score 3/5
Thank you for reading! As always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. This past weekend was Ohio Universities annual Halloween Block Party! My friends Brandon, Shaila, and I dressed as Amy, Rory, and the Eleventh Doctor. (The Doctor being played by yours truly) and hopefully I’ll have some photos up to share with you all in the coming days.