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'Batman Arkham Origins'

This thread has been linked to the game 'Batman: Arkham Origins'.
Sun 23/02/14 at 15:32:
Staff Moderator
"Meh..."
Posts: 1,469
As the third game in a very fine series, Arkham Origins had a lot to live up to. Anyone who's played the first two will most likely agree that Arkham City expanded and built on the first game incredibly well, so another in the series would need to be something truly outstanding to continue this trend. For me, the question was, "How could they make this any better?"

Well, frankly, they didn't. That's not to say that Origins is a poor game, far from it; the foundations set by the first two are still there, with virtually cinema quality graphics and lighting, captivating storylines, a mass of side quests and objectives and a whole host of unlockables. It's a perfectly well executed game, albeit with some rather irritating bugs at first (now completely fixed!), with some nice additions to the familiar mechanics, new "Bat-Toys", weapons and new moves, but, still, it feels... less. I suspect that if I hadn't played the first two, I'd be utterly blown away by Origins, but comparisons must be made.

One of the cornerstones of the Arkham series is, of course, the outstanding gameplay. As Batman, you get to run, glide and grapple your way around a truly huge and incredibly detailed and complex environment, hunting for bad guys and clearing the streets, and this is as good and as enthralling as ever. The Arkham environment this time is mostly intact, but if you've played the previous games there will be a number of recognisable landmarks. The combat is solid, and runs on a "freeflow" system, allowing you to string together visually satisfying combos with increasingly powerful moves. Freeflow this time is a lot quicker, more responsive, and your catalog of moves is much bigger than in previous games. Collect yourself some fancy toys and gizmos, and you unlock even more potential. It worked well before, it still does now.

New toys for your arsenal include an upgraded scanner, which allows you to "reconstruct" a crime scene, linking the clues and creating a 3D mock-up of the action; useful for any serious detective work, and essential in order for you to progress. There are multiple crime scenes to scan and decipher, clues to find and puzzles to solve, and in general this is quite a novel game feature. However, it just feels a little forced. For example, in one instance you are required to reconstruct a crime scene in order to figure out how to access a locked door, ultimately leading you to the location of a dropped passkey. Given that if you are even remotely vigilant you can see the passkey sitting behind a ventilation grate the minute you walk into the room, it's a little irritating to have to go through five minutes of "investigation" to establish the location. As an option, this tool would have been great, but the crime scenes are scripted, preset sequences that you are instructed to do, with no other course of action. For me, this broke the freedom that is an inherent part of the game just a little.

Most of the infamous faces are also present and correct, with Joker playing centre of attention as ever, and Riddler up to his usual trick of hiding blackmail data around the city. Both the main quest and many of the side missions will require you to stop or capture a familiar face or two, with the rewards including weapons upgrades or power ups. Side missions are entertaining, varied and worthwhile, and you'll often find yourself diverting from your current objective to follow up a new lead or to investigate some random radio chatter. This creates a rather organic feel in the gameplay, a randomness that's seldom captured in any game; quite simply, it gives the city life, a dynamic, ever changing criminal personality that keeps you on your toes.

One such side mission is to unlock the radio towers, initially "hacked" by Edward Nigma. With the vastness of the city and the time it takes to traverse, this is an almost essential sideline, as each tower provides a drop point for fast travel using the Bat-Plane. Personally, I'd rather the game developers had given me the Batmobile to race around in, I'd have found that a lot more fun, but then certain other elements of the game would have required considerable changes in order to implement this so perhaps it simply was not viable. Nonetheless, there's still something quite exciting about dropping from the sky, catching wind of an ongoing crime nearby and diverting literally "on the fly" to deal with it.

But then there's the boss fights, the true "challenge" in the game. Each one requires you to use all of the moves at your disposal, often in conjunction with a piece of recently acquired tech, and each one gets progressively harder, just as in any good game. The problem is, right from the word "go", the bosses are hard, stupidly hard, and I found myself frequently having to repeat a fight an inordinate number of times before I could progress. By the time you make it to the final fight with Bane, the odds are so stacked against you that the fight feels terribly unbalanced. Again, this sudden ramping up of difficulty managed only to break the flow and freedom of the game for me, particularly in light of how it's achieved; the challenge is not in terms of imagination or inventiveness, it comes down literally to being in exactly the right place at the right time for each stage of the fight, it is a case of learning the sequence of events and carrying them out perfectly. Oddly, it means that your second play-through is likely to be more fun than your first; you'll be familiar with the sequences and the boss fights become less problematic, less impactful on the overall flow.

Despite it's oddities and flaws, it is still an Arkham game. The story is compelling, the game is beautiful, and you're playing as Batman, which just can't be bad. You'll want to see it to the end, and when you have, you'll want to play it again, just to get the bits you missed before; there will, undoubtedly, be an awful lot of those! Compared to other similar games, this stands head and shoulders above the majority, but compared to Arkham City... no. With a little more care taken over the implementation of some of the new features, with a little more attention to balancing the boss fights and a little more imagination in their execution, this would have been the Arkham game, but sadly it falls just shy of that.

A fine addition to the series, but the peak for me was Arkham City.

7.5/10
Mon 24/02/14 at 13:33:
Staff Moderator
"Meh..."
Posts: 1,469
pb wrote:
I guess that it's the whole 'living up to expectations' thing, but everyone seems to be a bit disappointed by Origins. I'm waiting for the inevitable steam sale!

Great read, enjoyed the review.


"Disappointed" is probably the wrong word, as despite its obvious flaws I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. "Frustrated" might be a better description. It could have been so much more, and it wouldn't have taken a lot.

Patches since release have resolved most of the issues with the game, including a couple of "game breakers" present at release, so I kind of hold out in the hope that somebody will tweak the balancing, fix some of the flaws.

As I said, the game still stands way above most others of this type, just not as high as Arkham City. I'd still recommend you play it though.
Sun 23/02/14 at 21:42:
pb
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,937
I guess that it's the whole 'living up to expectations' thing, but everyone seems to be a bit disappointed by Origins. I'm waiting for the inevitable steam sale!

Great read, enjoyed the review.
Sun 23/02/14 at 15:32:
Staff Moderator
"Meh..."
Posts: 1,469
As the third game in a very fine series, Arkham Origins had a lot to live up to. Anyone who's played the first two will most likely agree that Arkham City expanded and built on the first game incredibly well, so another in the series would need to be something truly outstanding to continue this trend. For me, the question was, "How could they make this any better?"

Well, frankly, they didn't. That's not to say that Origins is a poor game, far from it; the foundations set by the first two are still there, with virtually cinema quality graphics and lighting, captivating storylines, a mass of side quests and objectives and a whole host of unlockables. It's a perfectly well executed game, albeit with some rather irritating bugs at first (now completely fixed!), with some nice additions to the familiar mechanics, new "Bat-Toys", weapons and new moves, but, still, it feels... less. I suspect that if I hadn't played the first two, I'd be utterly blown away by Origins, but comparisons must be made.

One of the cornerstones of the Arkham series is, of course, the outstanding gameplay. As Batman, you get to run, glide and grapple your way around a truly huge and incredibly detailed and complex environment, hunting for bad guys and clearing the streets, and this is as good and as enthralling as ever. The Arkham environment this time is mostly intact, but if you've played the previous games there will be a number of recognisable landmarks. The combat is solid, and runs on a "freeflow" system, allowing you to string together visually satisfying combos with increasingly powerful moves. Freeflow this time is a lot quicker, more responsive, and your catalog of moves is much bigger than in previous games. Collect yourself some fancy toys and gizmos, and you unlock even more potential. It worked well before, it still does now.

New toys for your arsenal include an upgraded scanner, which allows you to "reconstruct" a crime scene, linking the clues and creating a 3D mock-up of the action; useful for any serious detective work, and essential in order for you to progress. There are multiple crime scenes to scan and decipher, clues to find and puzzles to solve, and in general this is quite a novel game feature. However, it just feels a little forced. For example, in one instance you are required to reconstruct a crime scene in order to figure out how to access a locked door, ultimately leading you to the location of a dropped passkey. Given that if you are even remotely vigilant you can see the passkey sitting behind a ventilation grate the minute you walk into the room, it's a little irritating to have to go through five minutes of "investigation" to establish the location. As an option, this tool would have been great, but the crime scenes are scripted, preset sequences that you are instructed to do, with no other course of action. For me, this broke the freedom that is an inherent part of the game just a little.

Most of the infamous faces are also present and correct, with Joker playing centre of attention as ever, and Riddler up to his usual trick of hiding blackmail data around the city. Both the main quest and many of the side missions will require you to stop or capture a familiar face or two, with the rewards including weapons upgrades or power ups. Side missions are entertaining, varied and worthwhile, and you'll often find yourself diverting from your current objective to follow up a new lead or to investigate some random radio chatter. This creates a rather organic feel in the gameplay, a randomness that's seldom captured in any game; quite simply, it gives the city life, a dynamic, ever changing criminal personality that keeps you on your toes.

One such side mission is to unlock the radio towers, initially "hacked" by Edward Nigma. With the vastness of the city and the time it takes to traverse, this is an almost essential sideline, as each tower provides a drop point for fast travel using the Bat-Plane. Personally, I'd rather the game developers had given me the Batmobile to race around in, I'd have found that a lot more fun, but then certain other elements of the game would have required considerable changes in order to implement this so perhaps it simply was not viable. Nonetheless, there's still something quite exciting about dropping from the sky, catching wind of an ongoing crime nearby and diverting literally "on the fly" to deal with it.

But then there's the boss fights, the true "challenge" in the game. Each one requires you to use all of the moves at your disposal, often in conjunction with a piece of recently acquired tech, and each one gets progressively harder, just as in any good game. The problem is, right from the word "go", the bosses are hard, stupidly hard, and I found myself frequently having to repeat a fight an inordinate number of times before I could progress. By the time you make it to the final fight with Bane, the odds are so stacked against you that the fight feels terribly unbalanced. Again, this sudden ramping up of difficulty managed only to break the flow and freedom of the game for me, particularly in light of how it's achieved; the challenge is not in terms of imagination or inventiveness, it comes down literally to being in exactly the right place at the right time for each stage of the fight, it is a case of learning the sequence of events and carrying them out perfectly. Oddly, it means that your second play-through is likely to be more fun than your first; you'll be familiar with the sequences and the boss fights become less problematic, less impactful on the overall flow.

Despite it's oddities and flaws, it is still an Arkham game. The story is compelling, the game is beautiful, and you're playing as Batman, which just can't be bad. You'll want to see it to the end, and when you have, you'll want to play it again, just to get the bits you missed before; there will, undoubtedly, be an awful lot of those! Compared to other similar games, this stands head and shoulders above the majority, but compared to Arkham City... no. With a little more care taken over the implementation of some of the new features, with a little more attention to balancing the boss fights and a little more imagination in their execution, this would have been the Arkham game, but sadly it falls just shy of that.

A fine addition to the series, but the peak for me was Arkham City.

7.5/10

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