HOLY how-did-we-get-here?: Batman Arkham Origins
It’s Dark-Knight-by-numbers as a new developer takes over the series
Nights, tights and boss fights
A quick word too on the eight assassins tracking Batman’s every move. Where previous games in the series have been criticised for the way they handled boss fights – the Joker fight in Arkham Asylum being the chief culprit – the boss fights here are implemented well on the whole.
Again, don’t expect scenarios that offer anything genuinely new. But each boss brings a different challenge that further mixes up the usual rhythm of Batman’s fights. The only irksome encounters come when you go up against the more sizeable foes, whose tank-like qualities never really gel with the speed and flow of Arkham’s combat.
Away from the fighting, the detective mode also returns and – shock, horror – with a few expansions. Batman is now able to reconstruct whole sequences of events to piece together clues CSI-style, eventually gaining enough information to create a virtual overlay of the murder as it happened.
A fine idea in its way, but not nearly as interactive as it should be and all accompanied by far too much hand-holding. Indeed, the mode becomes little more than a hunt for the red triangles that signify areas that you need to scan – hardly revelatory, or much of a challenge.
The same could be said of the Dark Knight’s increasingly unlikely roster of gadgets. Each has its particular function – most of which you’ll have seen before – and, almost without fail, every time you approach a puzzle Batman will turn narrator to tell you exactly which gadget to use.
And yes, the wholly irritating rafts that must be steered across expanses of water also make an unwanted reappearance.
Making a more welcome, if rather unlikely, appearance is a first venture into online multiplayer for the series. Here players assume the identities of gun-toting gang members in bouts of three-on-three action. The unique Arkham angle being that while they battle it out, the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin are being controlled by two other players in a bid to stem the gang war.
Knees up, Mother Brown
It works well enough but hasn’t provided enough thrills to distract me from my The Last of Us habit as of yet. It’s worth a look though, if only to experience the oddity of Gears of War-style shooting within Gotham City, and to have the opportunity to play as two of Gotham’s more nefarious criminals.
The Reg Verdict
The first Arkham series title to not be developed by Rocksteady is Batman-by-numbers. But given the quality and relative infancy of the series, that seems just about acceptable. An injection of fresh ideas and the depiction of Gotham as a living city – and isn’t solely populated by goons – would have been better, but playing Caped Crusader remains a worthwhile enterprise.
That said, the next Arkham game better have some more goodies on its utility belt. One identikit sequel I can forgive, but a new franchise of ever-similar titles would be too much to take. ®