Batman: Arkham Origins opinions and ramblings
I know I'm late to this particular party, the latest instalment in the Batman Arkham series, Batman: Arkham Origins, was released on October 25th. I was lucky enough to get the game for Christmas and a few nights ago I finished the main story. Here are some of my, post completion, thoughts and opinions on the game compared to its predecessors. If you haven't played or completed the game yet then I recommend you stop reading and go do so, it's awesome!
WARNING from this point onwards there may be spoilers....
The Batman: Arkham series has quickly established itself as one of the best Comic book game adaptions of recent years (though right now I struggle to think of a better comic book game ever). So understandably the latest instalment had big shoes to fill. I absolutely love the first two games and despite some missed opportunities I thoroughly enjoyed Origins as well. If you’re a fan of Batman the chances are you've already got this game and beaten the dark, twisted giggles out of it, if not, or if you’re not a fan and looking for something new, I would highly recommend this game and the whole series.
Ok, now I've sung its praises, let’s get down to my gripes, opinions and what I think are some missed opportunities.
It's an origin story... isn't it?
Batman: Arkham Origins, it’s right there in the title, but whose origin?
Batman’s? Nope, though Crime Alley, the scene of Bruce’s parent’s death is present in the game the incident itself is never mentioned. Even the TV spot showed a young Bruce Wayne as he grew into the Bat we know and love, but none of that appears in the game unless you get the Initiation DLC. That means in order to play through the Origin part of Arkham Origins you’ll have to get your hands on the season pass.
It could be suggested that the title refers to Arkham Asylum itself with the events of the game leading to the reopening of the Asylum mentioned by Quincy Sharp during the end credits.
Having completed the game there is no doubt that this game is about the origin of The Joker, something it does very very well. Getting a glimpse into the mind of Batman's greatest enemy is definitely one of the games highlights.
Mmm! This fruitcake is fantastic! - Joker
Personally I would have liked to have seen more villain or sidekick origins explored. Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl, does make an appearance but only briefly and then later as with awkward com chatter to accompany a find and destroy side quest. I for one got very excited when Penguin came on screen for the first time, minus the glass bottle monocle he had in Arkham City. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the cut scene showing the origin of said monocle but sadly the moment never arrived. Much like Barbara Gordon, Penguin's time in game is short lived and left me expecting more, especially since his section of the game ends rather abruptly with Batman stating something along the lines of "I can't get to Penguin right now, let’s do something else". Robin does appear in the multiplayer aspect of the game but I would like to have seen some mention of him in the main story, aside from one very subtle, and often overlooked reference.
One of the elements of the previous two games I enjoyed the most was the plethora of Easter eggs, references and links to both the other games (Arkham Asylum hints at Arkham City, google “Arkham asylum Arkham city blueprints” and Arkham City has plenty of links back to the first game). Arkham Origins had a massive opportunity to be filled to the rim with references to future villains, something I believe it sorely misses. Don’t get me wrong, the Easter eggs aren’t missing entirely. It’s possible to find references to Dr Hugo Strange the main villain of Arkham City and some very obscure claw marks near Catwoman’s apartment. I miss scanning these references, as you could in Arkham City, to collect them and unlock additional information, explanations and comic book lore. The scan instead is used to collect Anarky tags and Cyrus Pinkney pages, both of which are in my opinion a bit dull to look at. The obscure visual references and the lore behind them were the fun part without them the collectables feel like a chore.
Honourable mention, Calendar man. The introduction of Calendar man during the first section of the game suggested to me that he would popup again later on as a side quest. Unfortunately he did not. He's made cameo appearances in this game and Arkham City but as of yet there have been no mission based on this very seasonal character. With Origins being set on Christmas Eve, this would have been the perfect opportunity to do so.
The Riddler... wait who’s this guy?
Speaking of collectables, a large proportion of the time spent on side quests and collectables in the previous games has been related directly to the Riddler, a mechanic that I and I'm sure plenty of other fans of the game have come to know and love. Not wanting to disappoint, Origins again sees a similar mechanic used however I feel some of the magic has been lost.
Instead of The Riddler we are introduced to Enigma, who is supposedly an earlier incarnation of the villain, though not one I recognise from any other Batman series. Enigma is described as the head of GCPD's Cybercrime unit who is blackmailing the city with all the dirty secrets he has discovered. This could have been great. Instead Enigma's Datapacks become another collectable chore with in some cases very little variation. As for the character himself, without the Riddler’s characteristic flair, he's just not that interesting.
It's been a long night...
Much like the previous games the events of Origins take place in one night, December 24th, and while I appreciate that the laws of physics mean you can only achieve so much in one night, even if you're Batman, Origins felt shorter to me compared to Arkham City. This might not be true, I didn't make a habit of recording the amount of time it took me to complete the main story in either this game or Arkham City, however the game still felt shorter due to the fact that, from a certain point onwards, you are tied in to a large chunk of the late story with no chance to collect datapacks or take part in the side missions until after the credits.
Much like the uncle that always buys you socks for Christmas I absolutely love this game despite its short comings. I would and probably will play through the story line again and I will continue to glide across Gotham City collecting all there is to collect. Yes, in my opinion, it's not as good as its predecessor, however Arkham Origins is still one of my favourite games of the past year.
While writing this I had a few ideas of my own for what I would like to have seen from Arkham Origins. I'll be putting all of my ideas into another post in the next few days.
This article is based purely on my opinion of this game, if you don't agree or think I've been too harsh by all means drop your thoughts in the comments below.