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Reviews Comments: A step down Batman Arkham Origins game review by Austin

The story is good, despite them going the lazy and predictable route when it came to villains. The gameplay is where most of the problems lie.

Switching the buttons for the gadgets was completely unnecessary, and it's a pain to unlearn the old control scheme, especially with how quick paced the combat in the series is. The enemies seem to cloister around you more, and the areas you fight don't seem as wide as they were in City, making it harder to keep track of what the enemies are doing. I'm really good at the combat system in AC, but I found myself getting hit far more in this game.

The game's not as refined technically as the others. I encountered glitches much more than in the previous games and there aren't as many subtitles for enemy chatter. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I also felt that the new environments were designed more confusingly and I found myself having more trouble getting around than I did previously.

On the bright side, I thought the crime scene reconstruction was really cool, and I'm a little disappointed that they aren't more difficult. I think the game's biggest strength are the boss fights. They're a lot more nuanced this time around, and quite fun to watch too.

There's a lot I like about the story, but some aspects seem underdeveloped, and numerous plot threads aren't followed up on. I realized this game probably wouldn't be as good as Rocksteady's entries, but the gameplay was more irritating, and they wasted a lot of interesting story opportunities. I say give this one a rental.


  • Historian1912
  • 1st Nov 13
Which buttons were switched? I know a couple things changed from Arkham Asylum to Arkham City, but I was able to pick up and play Arkham Origins without even looking at the control scheme. Two gadgets, one of which does the exact same thing as its City predecessor, are swapped. The ice and glue grenades from the two games are mapped to the same button. As far as I can tell there were no real changes to the control scheme.
  • McSomeguy
  • 2nd Nov 13
I didn't feel any changes to the combat. The only step down for this game was the plethora of bugs that it was released with.
  • Austin
  • 2nd Nov 13
See Damn You Muscle Memory on the main page.
  • arrgh
  • 3rd Nov 13
I think their handling of the villains was exactly the opposite of lazy and predictable; it was all back-catalogue c-listers, and to me, that says appreciation for the source material, and a desire to be different from the source material as well as other contemporary incarnations of Batman. Of course, that takes a hit because Bane is present yet again, but I'm going to blame Executive Meddling on that one and assume the studio forced him to be in the game because of Dark Knight Rises. I will absolutely give you the points about the environments though; the fights often felt cramped (or even too spread out, with enemies who were blocks away running at me, breaking my combo and dragging things out), and I got lost in the interior levels a LOT, which was only a minor issue in Asylum and City. And you were exactly right with the crime scene parts; cool, but not interesting from a gameplay perspective. Those would've been better if the things you needed to find to progress through the scene (including thrown/flung objects) were easier to see on their own, and didn't have little Notice This-style arrows hovering over them, or red lines indicating their flight paths.
  • Austin
  • 3rd Nov 13
When I was talking about villains, I was specifically referring to the Joker being the main villain again, and I only didn't specify that to avoid spoilers.

I like The Joker, a lot. But Batman is well known for having one of the best rogue' gallery of all time. It's not one of those cases where they all suck except for one or two guys. So for writers to fall back on the Joker over and over and over just feels lazy. And Black Mask was a character who only got a blink and you'll miss it (and I did the first time I played City) role in the previous games and he's pretty damn funny himself (although it seems like not everyone writes him that way). To be fair, it's not like what they did with the Joker wasn't interesting. I think if they had been more upfront about his role in the game, I wouldn't have much of a problem with it.

I actually enjoyed their pick of villains for this game, although some of them feel underutilized. I wasn't sure how much of a role Anarky was going to have, but I had assumed it was going to be bigger than what he got based on pre-release information. It seems weird to have his symbols give background to the city when he himself has such a small part in the game. I was also hoping Shiva would have a more complicated boss fight given her skills, something like what they did with Deathstoke if a bit less flashy. Personally, I really liked how they did Bane in this game. His intelligence got more focus and his boss fights were the hardest part of the game for me (seriously, that sucker is fast).
  • arrgh
  • 11th Nov 13
Yeah, most of the boss fights were underwhelming (excluding all the Bane fights, Killer Croc, and, to a lesser extent, Firefly), but they're still a step up from Asylum's. I feel like it may even be overall a step up from City in that area; all City really had going for it was the Mr. Freeze and Ra's Al Ghul boss fights; Clayface, and Grundy were pretty bland, imo. That leaves two great boss fights from City, to five good ones in Origins, which is a win for Origins in my book.
  • Austin
  • 19th Nov 13
I'm on my second playthrough, and I'm realizing just how buggy this game is. When I tried to pick up the concussion detonater, as soon as I went back into the city it would be out of my inventory and back in the bat cave. I had to kill myself then do a training challenge to get it fixed. If I activate a side quest then go back to the bat cave, when I come back the quest is deactivated, and it takes quite awhile for it to trigger again. When I beat Deadshot, the game didn't play the ending cutscene with him or mark the side quest as complete. Even exiting and re entering the musuem doesn't cause it to reset, it's just inacessible. And now the game's not letting me use smoke pellets. What's that they said under the "Tough Act To Follow" entry about being determined to make the game as good as possible? Not determined enough, it seems.
  • Volvagia423
  • 22nd Nov 13
Mostly, yeah. Now, conceptually, I thought this idea was a great one. However, there are four problem spots:

1. The Final Offer. Nolan North's Penguin was never exactly great, but Tracy was more embarrassing than intended with the clearly fake accent, worsening what is, at best, average dialogue and, overall, I was kind of glad to pass out of that section. 2. No sympathetic villains, not even for a single moment. Remember that big shocking reveal of the drained and shrivelled Bane in Arkham Asylum or Mister Freeze, being a GOOD Mister Freeze and not the bizarre mistake of the New52, in Arkham City? Yeah, you get none of that in Origins. That's an area where, say, switching out Copperhead and Riddler out for Cluemaster in a major role in the game (both dropping clues AND working in an assassin role) might have paid HUGE dividends. Why? Well, make him, say, in his mid thirties (and more athletic than you'd ever depict Riddler) at the time of Arkham Origins (for bonus weird meta inversion points, make a shrimpy, athletically disinterested guy in his early twenties (implicitly, the future Riddler) appear as Arthur's lackey in a scene or two) and trying to finally get out of the weird "gimmick crime" thing to start raising his daughter right. Instantly, you care for at least one of the villains in the piece. (There's a reason a One Last Job narrative is so shop worn in crime stories. In terms of a purpose of building sympathy, it works.) Plus there's the chance, if they also fixed my third issue, for some dark Mythology Gag(s) of Black Mask's actions in the War Games storyline. 3. Not following through on Black Mask. I get that doing Joker again, as the main bad guy, was their presumed way to get the gen pop interested, but I'd have loved Brian Bloom to have a larger role than he got and having one villain show up in every game is the true way to make things more boring, not cutting back on the fantastical elements (sorry, Yahtzee.) 4. The bizarre conception of the timeline. I get that they want to be "timeless", but I'd prefer them to have committed to the fact that, with the character models they used (particularly Gordon, who looks FAR from the guy in his late 50s-early 60s of Arkham Asylum), this is 1998, at the earliest, and should be working, at minimum, like the Batman version of 1998. Read Legends of the Dark Knight for some inspiration, sure, but read the mainline (Batman and Detective Comics) around 1997-1999 as well, to get a sense of the comics conception of the technological level around that time.
  • Austin
  • 23rd Nov 13
I was kind of disappointed with Tracy, particularly since he's an original character and Penguin's goons talked her up. I was hoping she'd be able to challenge Bats at least a little. I've never been bothered by how quickly Batman takes down Harley in these games, because she's never been a physical match for him. I was expecting Tracy to be different.

As for sympathetic villains...yeah, kind of. Then again, I've noticed that the mooks in this game aren't as cartoonishly evil as they're written in Dini's games. Maybe we were meant to assume that after years of fighting crime, it's only the real psychos who are left in Gotham.

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