Batman: Arkham Origins is a prequel to the other Arkham games. Set two years after Batman finishes his training, a mob boss, Black Mask, hires eight assassins to kill Batman on Christmas Eve. First of all, it’s an engaging story even though a lot of the characters and premises are reused from the previous games. And not to spoil anything, but the assassins mostly take a backseat to the overall narrative. The great part about the story comes with the relationships Batman builds with Alfred, Gordon, and his cast of rogues. It’s emotional and action packed in that fun, pulpy comic book way.
Combat remains virtually unchanged. Drop into a group of thugs to then counterattack everyone until they’re all down. It’d be a lie to say beating the living snot out of villains as Batman still wasn’t awesome, which is something only the Arkham games have captured. Yet it’d also be a lie to say it’s not somewhat repetitive given that there’s not much new in terms of innovations aside from a few new gadgets. Even the bosses, usually one of the highlights, boil down to either mundane beat downs, or suffer from copying fights from the other games. Ahem, Bane. The newest gameplay element the game has to offer is multiplayer, which feels lackluster and uninspired.
Not to beat a dead horse here, but this game looks identical to Arkham City. Everything from the environments, both inner and outer, as well as the design and graphics, seem copy and pasted. The city still looks good, if not smaller and less impressive. That is to say it looks good when the frame rate doesn’t freeze the game when switching to cut-scenes. Every. Single. Time. Even with the new quests and puzzles it all feels derivative. This is Batman by the numbers from a different team, Warner Brothers Interactive. The city, combat, story, and music are all great except they’re missing that Rocksteady, the previous developer, magic.
Batman: Arkham Origins is more of the same. The story is the true selling point here along with the ever-stellar gameplay. There’s nothing to really hate about the game except its lack of originality and choppy design. This feels more like Batman Arkham City: Groundhog’s Day starring Bill Murray as Batman.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on November 6, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.