Latest in ‘Arkham’
series features online
Cody Bahn / Editor-in-chief
It’s Christmas Eve, and all through Gotham City not a creature is stirring. Except a few large gangs, a laundry list of criminally insane villains, eight assassins, a corrupt Gotham City Police Department and, of course, Batman.
Set five years before “Batman: Arkham Asylum,” “Batman: Arkham Origins” introduces us to a new Batman — one who is less experienced, more brash and to the villains, a whole lot scarier.
Released Oct. 25, “Batman: Arkham Origins” is the third installment in the “Arkham” franchise and the first to not be developed by Rocksteady Studios. This is also the first game in which Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill do not reprise their roles as the voices for Batman and the Joker. They are replaced by Rodger Craig Smith, voice actor for Chris Redfield in “Resident Evil 6,” and Troy Baker, the voice actor for Nightwing in “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” respectively.
The story opens on Christmas Eve and while Alfred, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s trusted butler, tries to persuade his employer to stay in and enjoy the Christmas turkey he had prepared, Batman makes his way to the Batwing to stop a breakout at Blackgate prison. This is where Batman encounters the first of the eight assassins and learns of the $50 million bounty placed on his head by the Black Mask, a notorious crime boss known for ruthlessly torturing people for entertainment.
The most familiar villain you will be running into is the Joker. Still new in Gotham, Joker is already up to his tricks, even constructing a death trap, made to look like an amusement park inside of a hotel.
You will run into a lot of other familiar faces from the Batman Universe, some being friends, some being foe and others are neutral parties for now who eventually will be some of Batman’s greatest enemies, including a shadowy figure known as Enigma.
Because Batman has only been active for two years, his list of self-made gadgets is limited, but he does pick up quite a few useful tools from the assassins he defeats, some being crude versions of the tools he uses in the earlier games. The Remote Claw is one tool and at first glance it closely resembles the Line Launcher from the other games, but it has limitations and one added feature you will wish you had before. During Predator missions the Remote Claw allows you to target an opponent and a lookout point then string them up by their feet. Its ammo count is limited, but it gives you at least two quick knockouts.
“Arkham Origins” also gives you two of the most useful gadgets for traveling long distances, the Grapnel Boost and the Batwing. The Grapnel Boost works the same way it did in “Arkham City,” propelling you past rooftops for continuous gliding across long distances. The Batwing is a fast travel that drops you at a specific spot in whichever of the seven districts of Gotham City you want to get to.
The fighting mechanics have been slowed down by a small fraction, but this could have just been a development choice to add to the feeling of a less experienced Batman. You will have to work a lot harder to counter attacks and time it perfectly, making it a lot easier for enemies outside of your view to sneak up and break your combo.
Another new addition with this game is online multiplayer. The system is set up as 3 vs. 3 vs. 2. Right now you are given a choice between being a gang led by the Joker, a gang led by Bane or the dynamic duo themselves, Batman and Robin. The multiplayer is a little choppy and lags, but this could just be the amount of people trying to get on the servers at the same time. Hopefully within a few weeks that issue can be resolved.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
This game delves a lot deeper into the relationship between Batman and the Joker. From the start, the Joker is behind the $50 million bounty on Batman’s head. Kidnapping the Black Mask and taking his place, the Joker puts out the bounty just to get Batman out of the way so he can cause as much mayhem as possible with nobody there to stop him, but after Batman saves Joker from a rooftop fall the Joker realizes he is in love with Batman. Seeing Batman as a significant other, the Joker changes his goals from causing random destruction to seeing how far he can push Batman before Batman will snap and take his life.
The story writing is at times predictable, but just watching how the Joker develops as a character is worth a few predictable moments. Baker does a wonderful job filling Hamill’s shoes as the Joker’s voice, occasionally giving you the chills making you feel the pure insanity in his voice.
The game play could have used a few tweaks, but with the digital age comes updates that normally have patches to fix minor problems.
“Batman: Arkham Origins” does not live up to its predecessors, but that does not make it a bad game. Warner Bros. Games Montreal had big shoes to fill taking over development from Rocksteady and for a first attempt it wasn’t bad.
“Batman: Arkham Origins” receives 4 out of 5 burritos.