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Batman: Arkham Origins Review

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that I am a die-hard Batman fan, but don’t think that I put blinders on just because it’s Batman. I have played a lot of crappy Batman games, and superhero games in general, but “Batman: Arkham Origins” does not fall into this category. “Batman: Arkham Origins” tells the tale of Bruce Wayne after only having been the Dark Knight for two years. Arkham Asylum doesn’t yet house the most criminally insane Gotham has to offer and the rogues gallery has yet to find their way into Batman, but they are beginning to on this Christmas Eve night. After stopping a breakout in Blackgate Prison Batman finds out that Black Mask has hired some of the world’s deadliest assassins in the hopes of eradicating Gotham of Batman for a sweet Christmas bonus of $50 million dollars.

The voice work in this game is stellar. Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker replace Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker respectively, and they were spot on. Kevin Conroy will forever be THE voice of The Batman, but where some people might try to over sell it (::cough cough:: Christian Bale), Roger Craig Smith was able to keep it simple yet intimidating. Troy Baker was so good at voicing the Joker that I thought it was Mark Hamill. For all you “Batman: The Animated Series” fans Robert Costanzo returns to the Batman franchise as rough-around-the-edges-but-cuddly-on-the-inside Detective Harvey Bullock.

Gameplay is pretty good, mainly because it’s the same as the rest of the games in the series; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The counter system is more intuitive. This is proven evident from the lack of curses spewing from my mouth when I would otherwise hit the button to find nothing happens and I get knocked out. You get the majority of the bat gadgets right off the bat (pun?), although some you still need to acquire throughout the story’s progression, like the glue grenade, which would technically be a predecessor to the ice grenade from Arkham City. The electric gauntlets, in my opinion, are a little over powered in the sense that you can disarm practically any enemy, but at the same time it’s not a one hit K.O. You still need to work your combos, it just makes it way easier. The multi-tier boss fights were a huge step up from the previous titles. Bane, Copperhead, and even Deadshot were fun battles.

A problem I did have with some of these battle was the lack of saves during the quells in action, mainly the fight with Deadshot. I multiple times painstakingly took out his cronies one by one undetected (Batman style), made it through the two stages and on the third faltered. I then had to start it all over again from the beginning. I did this for almost two frustrating hours. I have yet to beat him.

The assortment of villains is amazingly good. Deathstroke, Copperhead, Shiva, Bane all gunning for Batman’s head. We even delve into Batman’s first foray into the mysterious world of Edward Nigma. The birth of the Joker and even Anarky is here in Gotham. A lot of people had problems with the villain selection because they weren’t as well known as the big names, but honestly I’m glad they picked lesser known villains. Even the well known villains are still trying to make their way to infamy. They have also added new types of henchmen: the “Martial-Artist,” who can block, evade and counter Batman’s attacks, the “Armored Enforcer,” who is invulnerable to harm until he is dazed and de-armored (these guys are fun to fight in a swarm), and the Venom-infused henchmen, who possess superhuman strength, which allows them to grab Batman and use uncounterable attacks.

In addition to the Most Wanted missions that allow you to track villains outside of the main story like Enigma, Anarchy,and Black Mask, you also get continuous side missions to better your standings with the GCPD called “Crime in Progress.” During Crime in Progress you help the GCPD take down assortments of supervillain’s flunkies. Now, by bettering your standings with the GCPD it means they won’t shoot at you that immediate moment. This won’t have an immediate effect, but rather a long term affect. “Arkham Origins” takes place over the course of one night in Gotham, so it’s implied that by helping the cops they are beginning to warm up to you and that in the future (“Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City”) the cops are allies that depend on your expertise.

Gotham City, while beautiful and true to the look and feel of the mythos, just sometimes feels like an expedition in and of itself just to get from point A to point B. I found myself on both PC and PS3 going and activating the towers in as many areas as possible just so I could fast travel. Fast travel is a new addition to the franchise and helps it quite a bit, because there are times you want to glide through the city and subdue the random prep, or complete a couple of “Crimes in Progress,” but there are the other times you just want to get where you want to go and see where the story is going. Fast travel to the Batcave where you can train, change costumes (after you beat the game), use the Bat-computer, pick up new gadgets like the glue grenade, and talk to Alfred so he can impart some wisdom. And, yes, there is an achievement for talking to Alfred.

Although “Batman: Arkham Origins” doesn’t offer a whole lot of “new” features, as was the case with the previous “Arkham” titles, it does offer a compelling interactive look into a younger, less refined Batman.

Final Verdict for “Batman: Arkham Origins”:

4 out of 5