Arkham unORIGINal

Video Game Review: Batman Arkham Origins


Arkham Origins was fine. Which is a bad thing for the title, because the previous 2 were shit ballz awesomesauce!

Batman, you still cool as hell, but your game? Meh.

I wish there was a lot I could say about this game, but I don’t. The biggest impression the game left me was that it was almost exactly the same as Arhkam City. Remember when Arkham City came out and we all thought “Roaming around the city is so cool! Playing as Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman?!? How great is that?! Joker dying and singing in the end credits??? What a way to go! They even had time to make a cool homage to crime alley!!”? Well I was expecting to have that kind of enthusiasm about this game, but as I completed the story and went through the side missions, I found myself being slightly disappointed. (Me! A Batman fan!) It didn’t feel like this game made that big a leap from Arkham City.

Although since this is supposed to be an origin story, I guess you’d expect that they’d have some limitations. Batman can’t evolve, in a sense. For example, Batman can’t have more advanced gadgetry (than in Asylum or City), otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense that he’d get rid of those items in the other games. So there really weren’t any new gadgets or new forms of combat. But still, this isn’t an excuse to not do things differently. “Devolving” gadgets or fighting styles (not drastically, of course) could’ve been an opportunity to give the Batman experience a fresh feeling if done right.

Shock gauntlets, where were you in Asylum and City??

The only area an origin game would shine most would be the story. And the story was simple enough. Black Mask hires 8 assassins to take out the Bat. The set up excited me. I love the Joker, but having a fresh villain take the stage was a welcome change. I liked the idea of the game exploring the qualities of other villains, what makes them unique and what makes them such big threats to Batman. To a certain extent, they did offer some background, especially when it came to Bane, but the others? The interaction with them was pretty shallow. Shiva, Deadshot, Copperhead, Firefly were all one off villains. I had hoped to see more Deathstroke and for him to have some weight in the story since the early trailers of the game presented him as the Anti-Bat, but he got disposed of pretty early in the game. Electrecutioner went down after 2 or 3 punches? It was so insignificant that I forget.

I seriously thought Deathstroke was going to be Batman's Vegeta at some point

Anarky. One of the more interesting villains. His social commentaries would make a guy believe HE was the actual hero.

But my final problem was that of Black Mask. Like I said, I was hoping for a new kind of villain. And I thought Black Mask, seeing as he was the ring leader of the group, was going to be the main villain. I expected to see a different kind of villainy; one that destroys Gotham not through unadulterated mayhem and arbitrary mass murder (as Joker would have) but through a more systematic, grounded/logical destruction. (Ala Long Halloween type of story) But alas, Black Mask was a footnote at best. The real star was the usual suspect, Batman’s forever nemesis, the Joker. This game was more of Joker’s origin story than Batman’s. Or at least, the origin of their rivalry. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good story. I loved how Joker’s chance encounter with the Bat turned into a deep, intimate, psychological obsession and how creepy and macabre that obsession became. So as far as Joker stories go, this was a solid one. I love the Joker, but I guess I just felt like it was time for him to let go of the reigns a bit. Hey, even Raziel and Kain, or Solid Snake and Big Boss, or ____ weren’t each other’s enemies in all of their games. Heck, even Loki isn’t the main villain in all the Thor movies! (Just watched Thor 2, go read my review!) I feel as though the game developers revere Joker to a fault, and that they made an Origin game, specifically just so they had a reason to bring back Joker. (Coz they realized killing him off was a mistake. Haha!)

The Joker: Origins

 It wasn’t great, but it was not at all a bad game. There were some things I was appreciative of. Like the addition of the Shock Gauntlets. This weapon gave the melee system a more energetic and impactful feel. It didn’t just feel like I was breaking thugs’ teeth. It felt like I was breaking their face!! That felt great.:) Another bad-get (Bat Gadget) that was new was the Crime Scene Mode's VR playback. You get to watch a crime scene that's reconstructed and you can even forward or rewind the scene to analyze what happened at any single point. Batman went all CSI, and i liked that his detective skills were utilized here. Also, getting to play as Deathstroke (especially since he’s a regular in Arrow, another franchise I’m currently into) was way cool. He has slightly altered versions of Batman’s weapons, and he fights with a sword and staff! And you even get a little Joker gameplay during the campaign. It was a short bit, but playing the psychopathic bad guy was a relish.

Deathstroke. Nuff said.

Speaking of, Troy Baker was amazing as the Joker. You wouldn’t be able to tell him apart from Mark Hamill’s version of the Joker. But somehow, you’d notice that Troy Baker’s Joker has a grittier sense to him. And as much as I love Kevin Conroy as Batman, Roger Craig Smith wasn’t too shabby at all either. (hard to believe he voices The Pulverizer in Nickelodeon’s TMNT)And when you see what they look like, they could both actually play them in a live action movie! Baker could pull off a lanky, maniacal Joker and Smith could be a weary, well built Batman.

Meet the new Joker in town - Troy Baker! (He's voiced Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Two-Face and now Joker!)

And Batman, who's also Marvel's go to Captain America voice, Roger Craig Smith! 

Similar to Injustice, Arkham Origins had a free downloadable IOS game. There was a synergistic relationship between the IOS and console games. Completion of one had repercussions in the other. Albeit most of the rewards were only upgrade points and Cobblepot packets, it still felt rewarding to complete both. This IOS Arkham was actually released before the console games - an elegant marketing strategy because it gives gamers a piece, but never the whole Arkham pie. And it’s exactly the reason why I bought the console game. DC you sneaky sonovabitch, you.

Batman on IOS. Plays the same as Injustice, but better.

The one big thing that sets this game apart from its predecessors is the online multiplayer system, that unfortunately, I could not make work until now. (I get to the host lobby, but there are never any other players online. Well, maybe one or two.) But from the briefing videos, it looks it seems to have potential to be real fun. I think it’s a great idea to let gamers experience being an enemy thug, or as Bane or Joker, or as Batman or Robin sneaking in the shadows, doing a stealthy tag team takedown. There are so many new dynamics to the game in this multiplayer world, I just wish I could use it.:( (Unfortunately, Robin isn’t part of the single player mode. I so wanted him to be a playable character.)

There should really be a Batman and Robin game! Why can't there be a BATMAN AND ROBIN GAME!?!?!

The game wasn’t bad. And I realize that most of my issues with the game stem from over expecting. If you absolutely love this franchise, then Origins is still a worth buy. But don’t expect any grand changes. And hopefully the next installment will be set in a post-Arkham City time. There’re so many other villains in the Batman lore they could explore, like Ra’s Al Ghul or Hush. And maybe they could let Nightwing and Robin (and maybe even Jason Todd) be playable characters in the campaign missions. (Similar to MGS 2’s Snake and Raiden system where each character needs to complete a mission before the other can progress.) Or maybe (since multiplaying is now a possibility) even have the option to have SOME 2 player experience in the campaign (Similar to DMC 2 where the first player is still Dante while a second player COULD control Virgil at the final battle). A brawl with Batman kicking ass alongside Nightwing would just rock my socks off…

A guy can dream, can’t he?


+ Shock gauntlets break faces!
+ Online multiplayer has some good potential
+ Playing as Deathstroke and Joker

- No big, game changing leap from City
- Joker again? Oh ok.
- Electrocutioner, the bumbling buffoon
- Want more Deathstroke story!
- I miss Robin

PS. This is me not being able to say a lot about Arkham Origins.

PPS. When did unlockables stop being unlockables? There was a time when secret characters and alternate costumes could be unlocked by completing certain aspects of the game. Nowadays, you have to buy them! Capitalism.

Goodbye age of unlockables.:(

And for those of you who don't have the patience or fortitude to unlock Batman Beyond on IOS, and/or the budget to buy the downloadable White Lantern Batman skin for your console coz we're such cheapskates, this is what they look like...


beyond white

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