STAFF REVIEW of Batman Arkham Origins (Xbox 360)

Monday, October 28, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Batman Arkham Origins Box art AAAHHHA-HA-HA or is it HOOOOOHO-HO-HO, oh well who cares. Welcome back to Gotham kiddies and Merry Christmas! Now Christmas time is supposed to be about love and family and blah blah blah, but what we really care about is the presents! Sadly though, Santa is a bit tied up at the moment so your old pal Joker here has taken it upon himself to fill his boots for the city of Gotham during Christmas Eve night! Now I know what you're saying, "Joker how can you possibly expect to deliver all those presents in one night?" and the answer is simple! Employ a small army of ruthless and heavily armed elves all handpicked by yours truly!

Now though there are rumors fluttering through the air about a man who wants to be the Grinch of the season and to top it all off, he's dressed up like a giant bat!?!?!? Can you believe it, and they say I'm the one who needs help?!?!?!? Well no Grinch is going to stop my Christmas, and in fact let me tell you a little story that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. I'm calling Batman Arkham Origins and it all begins on a night like tonight...

Twas the night before Christmas and Gotham was merry. Not a bad guy in sight so things weren't so scary. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, but Black Mask escaped jail so he's no longer there. Assassins all over took notice with glee as the Black Mask put up, a whole bunch of money. The job was simple, and that's kill the Bat, and 50 million bucks to the one who did that. The night became lively with bad guys abound, he may own the sky, but we all own the ground. I heard their calls going out through the night, ON Shiva, ON Bane, this is one awesome fight. The calls rang out ON Croc, ON Deathstroke, ON Copperhead and Firefly, ON Electrocutioner, On Deadshot, shoot him out of the sky. The hunt was now on with the clock ticking down, but everyone forgot this smiling little clown. Will Batman survive by a very close shave, or will a cunning assassin put him in his grave? The night is still young and what a great lead in, to tell you more about Batman Arkham Origins.

Did you like the story kiddos?!?!? There's so much more to tell, but it's naughty to look at your presents early! Speaking of presents, I've heard Batman has some wonderful toys at his disposal. We all have heard about his remote controlled this, his grapple that, his batwhatever, his crypto who cares, blah blah blah, but now I've heard he's got a new toy that will allow him to target an enemy and grapple them to another enemy, an interactive object, or even hang them from a stationary ledge! Batman also has other items that he can requisition from fallen foes to help him along the way such as the Shock Gauntlets that allow him to recharge dead generators and gain access to previously unreachable parts of Gotham. Now really after all that do you think that’s fair?!?!?!? All I've got is this killer smile...... and a whole bunch of explosives. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Apparently he has a vehicle that lets him fast travel to various points in the city, and guess what he's called it... guess... come on.... NOPE! He's called it The Batwing! Oh but apparently his precious little plane doesn't seem to like these hijacked radio frequencies so he'll need to disable them before he can use it in the area. Here, have a cookie.

Controlling and gliding are all what we've heard and experienced before but now with this new grapple accelerator he apparently has the ability to chain glides together seamlessly with the push of the A button. Now SHHHHHHHH, you didn't hear this from me, but I've heard that our Batman has a bit of an ego problem and has called himself the "WORLDS GREATEST DETECTIVE" and this is because of his new detective mode which allows him to reconstruct crime scenes to determine who did what to who and when and where. It's through this new detective mode that Batman can identify bodies, but more importantly determine a timeline of events that led up to the crime. This mode will also allow Batman to scour and identify any evidence that my help him determine what happened during the crime.

Once Batman has compiled all his evidence for the crime, the great detective not only will know what happened, but who's responsible and next on his "naughty" list. Personally I feel that if you have a computer doing everything for you, that you're not really being a detective, right? One thing that I've also heard is that Batman is one heck of a fighter, but this doesn't just come from beating bad guys in the head with the same polished fighting mechanics from before; but with new training simulations and challenges that gain him experience and the ability to unlock improvements on his gear.

This time however, Batman will have to utilize every bit of training to contend with the local thugs looming around Gotham. No more do you have just standard enemies that are either armed or not, but now Batman will have to contend with Heavy thugs which are dressed head to toe in body armor and are impervious to melee attacks and will require you to stun them with your cape before trying to take them down. Not only are these new thugs going to pose a serious challenge for Batman, but there are new martial art style baddies that will counter Batman's attacks with some of their own which in turn will force Batman to learn one unforgettable lesson, learn how to counter a counter, or die. Throughout these fights you will gain XP based on how well you perform and the variety of takedowns you use throughout your combo chaining. Once enough XP has been earned to level up, you will gain the ability to improve one part of your gear. How do I improve my gear? By lighting a match.

Now this tale is an original one kiddos and done by a new studio, but that doesn't mean that our old city is looking tarnished and run down; in fact it's looking better than ever with much more exploration at your fingertips. Buildings and bridges look far more realistic and the inside environments look incredibly life like. Not only has the environment made to look more realistic, but the character models themselves have received a nice artistic touch. Villans such as Penguin, Deathstroke, and more have been drawn to a degree that dramatically fits their psychosis perfectly. They even managed to do great work on my pearly whites!!!..... and on every other baddie throughout the game.

So what this means is now we know that the graphics team at WB Games Montreal is on our "NICE" list. Being that this is an original, you will also hear new actors trying to portray our beloved characters. There are some that do a quality job on yours truly, and yet there are some that smell worse than croc and are shorter in character than Penguin. If you thought that you would be hearing familiar voices throughout the game, you would sadly be mistaken. Gone are the classic voices that we have all grown up with and WB Games Montreal stood firm in making sure that this game holds almost no similar voice acting to make sure that this game is "theirs" and not just more of the same from a different studio. This seems a bit disappointing for long term fans and you can't help but feel that if as much detail went into the sounds as did the graphics, then we would have something truly amazing, but sadly it didn't. Other games have done the similar work with their voice talent and none of it has been exceptional before, and so is the same with Batman Arkham Origins. This would make me frown.... if I could.

Now what could be more exciting than playing this game alone? How about playing it with friends! Yes, you heard it here from the Joker himself, there's a new multiplayer mode, but this time Batman pairs up with boy blunder to tackle not only my gang but those of my good friend Bane as well. What a bargain that this is included since normally you have to pay extra for three way action! Each of us brings 25 of our meanest baddies and we fight not only the bat and his boy, but each other for total control of one of the several multiplayer levels! The dynamic duo will try to deplete our gangs but if we nail the bat or his boy, then all of our gang becomes available again! You know the old saying, if you can't beat 'em then get more men with guns.

So there you have it my Christmas kiddos! The latest installment into the Batman universe is almost near perfect. Sure there are a few dents and dings but those can be "pounded out" over time. With DLC looming on the horizon and a top quality story, Batman Arkham Origins is a good first step with a new development team. Ohhhhh there is so much more to tell, but some presents just have to be unwrapped themselves! So what are you waiting for???? Pick up a copy to make sure you don't get put on my naughty list! And a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a dark night! HAHAHAHA!

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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