Imagine, if you will, falling in love with a beautiful girl. She's smart, she's funny, she's beautiful and she knows how to make you happy. You have no idea how but somehow every syllable, every word and every one of her actions make your heart soar. She just has that certain 'quality', if you will.
Fast forward in time, you and your beau have broken up (circumstances not important) and you're with someone else. She's sweet, she's passionate and she really, REALLY wants to please. You smile and you nod and then you tell her to try an act like your old girlfriend...she does so and because she loves you, she does a really good job at it. She hits every note, every pitch and yet...there's something missing.
"Je nais se quoi."
It's that quality. It's missing.
Batman: Arkham Origins is the third game in the Arkham series and the first one NOT develoed by series founder Rocksteady. The first game, Arkham Asylum, did the impossible by giving the players the sense of what it is to be Batman. The second game, Arkham City, went even further and perfected the feeling of being The Dark Knight culiminating in one of the most emotional endings of all time.
It's safe to say that WB has mighty big shoes indeed.
Arkham Origins begins on the start of Batman's third year as Gotham's Caped Crusader. The majority of the criminal underworld believe him to be a myth whilst the Gotham police force consider him a public menace. Meanwhile Roman Sionis the Black Mask, summons many of the world's greatest assassins with the promise of 50 million dollars to the one who brings him Batman's head.
Safe to say, there's a lot of interesting ground to cover.
Unfortunately, the narrative lacks any sort of impact at all. The stakes are practically non-existent. Wheras Asylum had the Joker's ultimate plan driving the whole narrative and Asylum had Hugo Strange's ominprescent all-seeing precence every pulling us towards the end, Origin's 8 assassins storyline feels lackluster and weak. As Alfred aptly put it, the deadline for Batman's death is 24 hours and he could just simply hide and let them leave. Your story loses any semblance of an 'oomph' when your main threat can be defeated by waiting them out.
I suspect it was because of this that the writers introduced THAT plot twist and the rage on the boards have been nothing short of amusing.
All in all, don't expect to be wowed by the story. The isn't a love-letter penned by Paul Dini, that's for sure.
Exactly the same as Arkham City which does a good job of making you feel like Batman. The only interesting addition are the 'Crimes-in-progress' which are basically a group of baddies that you have to beat. They're tedious and entirely optional. I do miss the Riddler's puzzles, though.
The game is unoptimized. Never in an Arkham game have I suffered the black screen of death or have had Batman stuck behind a wall or a trash bin, yet there I was...restarting and replaying the game over and over. WB Montreal doesn't seem to have a handle on the engine. Already several workaround 'solutions' are fluttering around the net.
Expect a few game-breaking bugs.
That Troy Baker attempts to imitate Mark Hamill's Joker seems so eerily appropriate in lieu of everything. Arkham City desperately wants to please you and hits all the right notes, sometimes perfectly but it just lacks that certain quality.
The new guy SOUNDS like Batman but he's not Kevin Conroy.
Troy Baker SOUNDS like the Joker but he's not Mark Hamill.
The story ATTEMPTS to be emulate Paul Dini's writing but it's not the same.
The gameplay COPIES Arkham City but brings nothing new to the table (certainly not the difference between AA and AC)
Je nais se quoi, indeed.
I would like to STRESS that WB Monstreal had been correct in their approach. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. They were caught between a rock and a hard place. If they changed the formula too much, fans would have undoubtedly burned them at the stake. It just pains me that this game could have been easily a 9 out of 10 game if Rocksteady returned to a final entry.
If you're hungry for more Arkham City, pick this up to sate your hunger pangs.