November 6, 2013
Batman: Arkham Origins Review (Part 2)
Be sure to read Part 1 of this series.
Everything in Arkham Origins is younger.
Bane isn’t 25 feet tall yet, and Killer Croc is as menacing as he is ugly. The Joker hasn’t attained that elderly psychopathic swagger that we’re so used to seeing in Arkham City, and of course Alfred Pennyworth is younger, albeit still very old and English. Despite the game being a prequel story, the gameplay has been chiseled and sculpted into the solid sculpture I’d always hoped it could be in Arkham City. Fans will refer to Arkham Origins as Arkham City 2, a title most deserving for a game that hasn’t really morphed the combat of Arkham, the signature gold piece in gameplay. The previous entries in the series taught players the principles of countering and striking, space relationships, close quarter combat and of course quick fire gadgets. In Arkham Origins, the new lesson is button mashing.
Gone from AO are the sad, dull rules of endless free flow combat from Arkham City. Instead, the AI will find a way to break your combo, be it legitimate or complete bullshit, and you’ll have to accept this as the universal fact of fighting in Arkham Origins. Bruce is smaller, and hence much slower than his AC counterpart, but he makes up for this by being merciless and terrifying in every encounter with enemies. His decrease in speed now means that players will have to be even more patient when watching enemies making moves.
This isn’t always clear for most players since everyone gives up after losing their combo a few times. It’s true, the game’s combat is way harder to cope with, but it’s also much more rewarding to players who spend their time refining their skills to never take a hit in a fight. You are Batman. This means that every enemy you encounter will need to be respected in order to press the right buttons. Press too slow for a counter and you’ll probably be hit by your enemy. Press too fast and the game will assume that you’re button mashing, and send an unblockable punch to your cheek as penalty for your lack of patience.
Each fight is given a letter grade now with a list of high points that you achieved in each fight, such as never being seen when sneaking or never taking a hit in a large scale brawl. Adhere to the disciplines, and you’ll find that Batman levels up much faster when he’s pushing his limits in the campaign. Run away from adversity, and you’ll be rewarded with lesser-experienced enemies, and hence, a lesser experience.
The most important lesson in Arkham Origins is definitely the concept of timed counters and quick thinking, highlighted by dire campaign situations that a normal person just wouldn’t be able to cope with. Batman is strong, smart, and unfaltering in his quest to rid Gotham completely of criminal scum. As the story progresses, the player will notice that that goal is impossible. Not because Bruce isn’t good enough, but because the world is simply not ready to accept a masked vigilante as their protector.
Even in the later stages of Arkham Origins, the cops hate you. The civilians hate you. The criminals hate you. Bosses hate you. Assassins hate you.
It’s all right. Batman hates himself too.
More on this review in future blogs to come!
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment