A winged dark-robed figure approaches a thug at night and swoops down and rampages him to the ground. This is Batman: Arkham Origins, crafted by Warner Bros. Montreal, which takes The Dark Knight to a familiar territory of gameplay and invigorates it with a brand new larger environment and multiplayer predator mode. Batman: Arkham Origins sticks very closely to the old formula that its predecessor Batman: Arkham City has, which is both a wise choice and one that lacks the notion that further creativity may proof useful.
Batman: Arkham Origins takes place before Arkham Asylum – in a time where Batman was this unknown figure that was a mere crescent shadow lurking around rooftops looking to fight crime. Everything takes place on Christmas Eve and the snowy backdrop of Gotham city gives a cold aroma to the moonlight. Eight of the deadliest assassins have been hired by Black Mask – to kill Batman. A good amount of notorious would-be iconic criminals join the hunt for The Batman, and this is where the players are thrusted into the cityscape.
Batman: Arkham Origins packs quite a few punches. Actually, a lot of punches. The game still follows a similar linear style to older games, trying to keep the formula the same in terms of button mashing and combo-countering maneuvers. This is rather disappointing in terms of actual combat but Batman does not have much variety like others in the Justice League to pull off too many crazy stints. Triple takedowns and the like are still around, effectively keeping this game the same as the last one. Gadgets and Detective mode make their reappearance with little changes, similarly alluding to an engine of Arkham City that is just the previous installment in a different environment. New Shock gloves give organized crime a nice-sized “ZAP!” and WayneTech technology is still active in terms of amassing XP to level up Batman and unlock new moves. Batman: Arkham Origins makes use of enemy A.I. in more interesting ways, however, when it comes to exploration. Roaming a street side, you can do various side-quests and save some people in Gotham’s older pre-Arkham City confines where criminals amass, or pass straight and help someone else in need. Side quests are not very plentiful, but do exist along with The Most Wanted – computers by a mysterious character that wants to help Batman in the same vein as The Riddler with his creepy puzzles of destruction and torture. Batman: Arkham Origins is essentially a bigger Arkham City with relatively few gameplay elements that do not seem to hold the MSRP of $59.99 too strongly.
Batman: Arkham Origins multiplayer is in the format of 3 vs 3 vs 2. Two gangs try to pull off a heist in Invisible Predator Online Mode, which seems to be good on paper in terms of what is natural, but largely fails to be interesting. Batman and Robin are essentially gallivanting around the map, while the Joker’s gang and Bane are trodding along extinguishing each other while everyone tries to take each other out. This mode adds some online action, but largely leaves something to be desired.
Batman: Arkham Origins is essentially a stunning single-player experience as always, but one which falls short with its gameplay elements and the mediocrity of the online offering. The Dark Knight shines in some areas, but largely remains hidden in the shadows of the dark bargain bin.