Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Arkham Origins

Arkham Origins

            What’s to say about a game that is likely to receive 9’s and 10’s from most magazines that review it? A lot actually, seeing as how I’m currently playing Mass Effect 1 again as opposed to completing my game on Batman Arkham Origins. Now that’s not to imply that Mass Effect is a bad game (though the first one hasn’t aged as well as the second one did), but I have beaten this game 2 times already and I’m only playing again because a good friend told the Tali romance brings out a lot more character from her and is highly amusing.
            Now I’m a huge Batman fan, so much so that I’m taking one of the lithographs that I got from buying the strategy guide, framing it, and placing it on my desk in my office on campus. But this game does have some flaws. But first lets cover what it did well.
            The game has a pretty interesting story. Black Mask is a semi big villain in the Batman universe. He was one of the villains in Batman: Under the Red Hood (an excellent movie I might add). And while the Joker does seem to play a big role (remember I haven’t beaten the game yet) having the Red Hood play a major part of the story helps to keep the game about something other than Batman and the Joker. I love the Joker, but I don’t need him to be the only thing we see in a Batman game.

            And another point in favor of the story is that it is an origin tale. So we get to see the Joker become … well … the Joker. A pre Oracle Barbara Gordon is also a nice touch. Toss in Jim Gordon as the not commissioner yet and well you have a nice set up to see where things are going later on down the road. It was nice to see the tension between Batman and Jim and for Batman when he has to deal with a corrupt GCPD.
            The combat and the gadgets are pretty much the same as the last game. So controlling Batman isn’t a new learning experience. This is good as it allows you to jump right in and get straight to the action. If you had mastered combat in the previous game then you’ll have no problem here. Though I do miss the electro gun. That thing was crazy fun to use in combat.
            And finally I have to say that I did enjoy the addition of the multiplayer. It isn’t enough to sale the game alone. But it is an interesting diversion, much like the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3 was. It could use more gangs, and I hope that they even add more hero’s to play as, but overall it was fun. The fact that there were three teams each match is an interesting approach to multiplayer play. It’s not just about killing the other team but also avoiding Batman and Robin who are out to mess up both teams.
            On the flip side, as an origin story I question Batman’s gadgets. He starts the game with almost everything he needs. If this is a Batman that is younger and more rookie then shouldn’t he start with less equipment? I would go so far to suggest that maybe some gadgets may have been left off entirely. I haven’t decided which ones I would have removed from the game entirely but I lean heavily towards the sonic batarang and your decoder. In the very least a device like the decoder should have been an item that he picked up from someone else. With that in mind I think the game missed out on a chance to maybe add a development aspect to becoming the Batman that we see in Arkham City and Arkham Asylum.
            Also while it was nice that the game play and fighting was unchanged from the previous game it also made it somewhat boring. Again, this is an origin tale, so I think to some extent Batman not being the combat master that he is in later games would have been justified. I feel that it may have been more fun to build up to being the master and bad ass that you know he will one day become. A combat development path would have added a new aspect to the game. I admit it may have been something tricky to balance, but you already have Batman buying moves with his experience.
            The city of Gotham is also very bland. You’re playing in the same part of Gotham that you played in during Arkham City. Now I’m not asking for a large sandbox to play in. But typically the entire city of Gotham is crime ridden. There isn’t much of a reason to focus on just the part of the city that was featured in the last game. Thus I don’t feel compelled to truly explore the city like I did the last time. Which is sad, because that was fun in Arkham City.
            Also game play wise I feel the game took a step backwards by not including a second character to play as. Being Catwoman last game was incredible fun. It offered up a different style of play that was also integrated into the overall story of the game itself. While I wasn’t looking to play as Catwoman again I had hopes that something like that would return for the next game. Perhaps the chances to play as Nightwing, Batgirl, or Robin and have that play tie in to the overall story being told. Perhaps even having their missions be little side quest that they take up to free up Batman’s time. Now with it being an origin story you can’t exactly go that route with a large number of the possible characters. But perhaps a young Dick Grayson as Robin would have added a bit of depth to the play experience. It wouldn’t have hurt. More so if you consider that you play as Robin in the multiplayer part of the game. Hell you could have had Robin going to get parts for a new gadget for Batman to use and having him bring it to the Dark Knight.

            And finally, no Poison Ivy. You lose points for that automatically.

            Overall this isn’t a bad game. It has its strengths and it has its weakness. The biggest fault of the game I would have to say is that it just doesn’t stand out enough from the second game in the series. That’s what harms it the most, same city, same moves, same bat gadgets. The biggest new thing of Arkham City, the inclusion of Catwoman, wasn’t carried over to the third game and I think that hurts it a lot. I really wish I could give this game a perfect score but sadly when you compare it to the experience I had with Arkham Asylum and Arkham City it just doesn’t overall stand up. So I give the game 3 and half afro’s (out of a possible 5). If you’re a Batman fan get the game. But overall you’re not gonna miss much if you pass on it or wait till it drops in price in the used game market. 

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