I still remember the first time I played Arkham Asylum, I wasn’t expecting much from the game but in the end it blew my mind and I still consider it to be one of my favourite games on the Xbox 360. Arkham City was also a great game and I was hugely excited when Batman Arkham Origins was announced.

Christmas Eve and there's a bounty on Batman's head with eight Assassins looking to collect

Christmas Eve and there’s a bounty on Batman’s head with eight Assassins looking to collect

Along with many fans of the game, there was a fair bit of fear when Rocksteady passed the baton to WB Games Montreal, would their prequel do the game a disservice or would they build upon a great series?  Arkham Origins is set across two islands, a rebuilt version of Gotham from Arkham City and a brand new southern island. It’s Christmas Eve and while most people would be settling down to watch a movie and have a beer, poor Batman is the target for an assassination from eight different angles! Bane, Killer Croc, Deadshot, Shiva, Firefly, Electrocutioner, Deathstroke and Copperhead are all out to try to fulfil a bounty that is firmly above the Bats head, there will be first introduction to characters such as James Gordon and The Riddler too. Rather than hide in the shadows Batman goes out on a one man mission to defeat them all.

Thankfully Batman has all of his wonderful combat skills that allow him to be able to take down 20 goons at a time, it’s still one of the most pleasurable fighting systems in a game that I’ve played. WB Montreal have made some subtle changes, enemies appear to attack more often in groups and can be pretty relentless at times. New opponents such as Martial Artists require you to make use of the counter button more often too. It can be a challenge at times but I was constantly trying to get the biggest combo possible and so I always found it fun. After each fight, no matter where you are in the game you are given a rating based on the difficulty of the opponents, whether they had weapons and how many times you had been hit. Your score gives you XP which can be used to upgrade your Close Combat tools such as your armour’s resistance to punches and bullets. You can also upgrade your tools used when you decide to be stealthier such as the Batarang. As you progress through the game you’ll unlock some extra special moves too.

Combat largely remains unchanged

Combat largely remains unchanged

The boss battles are quite entertaining though the first battle is quite difficult and may put people off, it feels like you are getting nowhere for a while and feels more like a QTE battle rather than taking advantage of Batman’s skills. The other battles were more entertaining but I couldn’t help the feeling that some of his opponents weren’t as interesting as in previous titles which was a shame. Characters such as The Joker and Mad Hatter were my two favourites; Troy Baker does a great job with Joker, though you could argue Mark Hamill did a better job.

It’s not all about kicking ass though, Batman does have a brain and he likes to put it good use whenever possible. He has a range of tools to help him hack security and analyse evidence, which for the most part makes you feel like you are just playing Arkham City, but WB Montreal have added the own twist to it. In Arkham City you could scan evidence, but in Origins you are able to piece together the whole crime and watch it back to establish the full story. It doesn’t take much to the solve the crimes but if they could make things a bit more complicated in future titles that would be a good thing. Alfred plays more of a role in this game and he is on hand to help create new weapons and put systems in place to help Batman, his dialogue is witty  and he proves a useful tool in the game.

Gotham is a pretty soulless place in Origins and feels all too familiar to Arkham City

Gotham is a pretty soulless place in Origins and feels all too familiar to Arkham City

Gotham is a pretty soulless place in Origins and feels all too familiar to Arkham City, gliding around as Batman is great but it quickly becomes frustrating when you aren’t able to jump over waist-high boxes or use the grapple hook on obviously ledges, the bridge separating the two islands is ridiculously long and it ends up easier just using the fast travel option to get around, although you will need to shut down various jammers around the city to enjoy full freedom.

There are plenty of side missions to take on, as well as Enigma’s datapacks and Penguin’s Weapon caches to find. There are also random crimes that come up on the police radio that you can go and stop, it’s essentially beating up another gang but it all goes towards your XP.

The game looks great and is well voiced, it would have been nice to have some ‘life’ in Gotham, everything is shut down and all you really come across are groups of gangs just waiting to be taken out by the Bat himself. Hopefully the developers can come up with a better world with more going on when the next generation of consoles hit.

As a huge fan of the Batman series I couldn't help but be excited about going back to Gotham, but at the same time felt a continuous sense of deja vu

As a huge fan of the Batman series I couldn’t help but be excited about going back to Gotham, but at the same time felt a continuous sense of deja vu

Away from the main game there are the classic Challenge maps, giving you the chance to test out your skills and compare yourself to other players around the world. This mode rewards you with new outfits & areas to take part in challenges. It’s a great way to practice and perfect for those new to the series to find out how the combat works.

Splash Damage were brought in to create a multiplayer mode for the game and when you can find people to play with it isn’t too bad. Matches are made up of three teams, Bane’s thugs and Joker’s loonies face off on a handful of maps, trying to capture and control points in a Domination game mode. The third team is Batman and Robin. Two players are chosen at random from the party to play as the vigilantes, as they would in the main game sneaking around taking out the thugs and loonies while trying to avoid an onslaught of bullets. Batman and Robin need to build up an Intimidation meter before the other teams are victorious. As I mentioned this is great when you can actually get a game, I managed to get into a game only to be disconnected and found it very hard to ever fill up a lobby which is a real shame.

As a huge fan of the Batman series I couldn’t help but be excited about going back to Gotham, but at the same time felt a continuous sense of deja vu. I felt that WB games have continued with the great work of Rocksteady but have played it too safe. The multiplayer is a nice idea but it seems that people aren’t too interested. If you love the Batman games you’ll enjoy this, but you’ve been here before.

Review - Batman: Arkham Origins
The good
  • Great to have Batman back, the freeflow fighting is as great as ever!
  • Challenge rooms are still good fun
  • Voice acting is excellent
The bad
  • Feels like WB Montreal have played it too safe
  • Multiplayer is a let down
  • Not enough freedom in the city
78%Overall Score
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About The Author

When he isn't changing nappies or learning the latest songs on Cbeebies you'll find him taking the world on at FIFA or bouncing around on Kinect games.