392: Batman: Arkham Origins

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JaySevenZero
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392: Batman: Arkham Origins

Post by JaySevenZero » January 13th, 2019, 11:34 am

Here's where you can contribute your memories and opinions of Batman: Arkham Origins for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

Friendly reminder to all that where feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but self-editing (brevity) is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mainly reading. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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ReprobateGamer
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Re: 392: Batman: Arkham Origins

Post by ReprobateGamer » January 14th, 2019, 11:23 am

Arkhams Origins is a game that I won't ever forgot - but this is largely as this is the game that killed my original piano black PS3 (and removed all my PS1/PS2 save data in the process). :|

The game itself was a reasonable fit into the Arkhamverse for the most part but does raise some questions regarding the timeline with regards to ages of several characters. I had no complaints with the game play but of all the Arkham games, this is the one that I could really hear the console working and there were some graphical issues (game freezing, pop-in) before the PS3 died. I seem to recall that Origins had the most criticism of the series and, whilst some of that may be Rocksteady not being in the dev's chair, my experience would lend some credence to the critics.

I did stumble through to the narrative end (and the replacement PS3 didn't seem to struggle as much) but I didn't feel the need to push for 100% completion - I think that there was a little nostalgia/fan shout-outs for the rest of the series which helped the game.

Three word review: middling Arkhamverse entry

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DeadpoolNegative
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Re: 392: Batman: Arkham Origins

Post by DeadpoolNegative » June 2nd, 2019, 10:15 pm

Arkham Origins, upon its release in 2013, was derided as the proverbial black sheep of the Batman: Arkham franchise. The lack of developer Rocksteady's involvement, combined with an utterly useless multiplayer element, and some rather surprising at the time technical issues- I lost about four hours of my play through due to a corrupted save (now such technical issues are commonplace and patched out quickly)- all these are black marks against it, but in the end I found it to be an entertaining game on its own, if not on the level of its predecessors.

One advantage Arkham Origins does have that I think its story arc is much clearer and better written than the arcs of City or Knight. Granted, that can be difficult to get past- for after all this game posits an utterly ludicrous scenario that Batman has his first encounters with Bane, the Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Anarky, Copperhead, Edward Nigma, Firefly, and of course the Joker all on one freezing December night. Heck, even Dr. Harleen Quinzel gets shoved in there somehow.

But if you can get past it, there's a solid story to be had of a younger, angrier Batman learning he can't go it alone in his war on crime, as he slowly learns not to shut Alfred out and to trust a young James Gordon, one of the few good cops left in Gotham. Gordon also goes through a bit of a story himself, as his interactions with Batman, and his surprise that despite al the harm Joker did, Batman did not kill him- reassures him that Gotham is still worth fighting for, and he's a good enough cop to continue doing so. Of course the massive body counts the Joker racks up in the later chronological Arkham games make sparing his life look like a completely idiotic thing to do, but for this game's story, I'll allow it.

Compared to the often way more exciting but just as often utterly infuriating, plot hole filled, everything but the kitchen sink, this is the most important Batman story EVER tone of City and Knight, the more character driven stuff feels like a breath of fresh air.

A word on the voice acting: The Great Roger Craig Smith subs in for Kevin Conroy this time, and while he takes a little getting used to, he's suitable for the "angry young man" Bruce Wayne the story is trying to depict. I rather enjoyed the way he bit off the line, "it's a GLUE Grenade." The great Troy Baker Is the Joker and he's... all right. The Joker is more of a plot device in this story than a true antagonist, and Baker is not given many opportunities to really stand out; he's trapped in the shadow of Mark Hamill for the game's duration. Brian Bloom is at his Brian Bloomiest as Black Mask, and while some may dislike Nolan North's Penguin, I find it to be quite a delight. But the standout is Mark Rolston's droll, all business Deathstroke, the veteran character actor brings a lot of slow burn menace to the role, playing him cool and calm as opposed to the usual Batman crazies. I also greatly appreciated brief vocal cameos from Robert Costanzo and CCH pounder, voicing Harvey Bullock and Amanda Waller, respectively.

As for the gameplay, it's solid, sticks to the formula of the previous games with very little deviation. Except... for the Deathstroke fight. Ah, the Deathstroke fight. It's the game's one true standout, as it forces the player to rethink the Arkham combat system and free flow. As a tried and true button masher, I do love this system although I've never come remotely close to mastering it. But the battle with Deathstroke asks you to, I guess the best way to put it is, pace yourself. Deathstroke has many different approaches and they all require more than just hammering X in a good rhythm. Beating him, once you understand what you need to do, is very satisfying.

Other additions are fine, though the use of the electrified gloves late in the game make the fights almost comically easy, to the point where you'll genuinely wonder why Batman never brought them back again. There's also a fast travel mode, that involves... sigh... radio towers. There's a term I've been using lately, "Ubisoftization". Sure, it's goofy as hell to say, but it does feel like the open world formula from that company's line of games has seeped into every other company's open world games, and it feels like Arkham Origins, developed in the same city as the mainline Assassin's Creed series, was patient zero. That's what Batman's war on crime needs- RADIO TOWERS to activate!* He's too busy to stop that mugging, he's got a radio tower to set up so the Batwing can drop him off next time he's needed in the area!! One wonders if the introduction of the Batmobile in Arkham Knight was meant to be a partial response to this, though given how much I disliked that mode of transportation in the game, I guess the joke's on me.

*Just as an aside, it's frustrating that in all three open city Arkham games, they contrive a reason for why Batman isn't stopping random street crime. Spider-Man has been rescuing ordinary citizens and beating up bad guys for 15 years; why can't Batman? Why shouldn't we see the people Batman is defending once in a while?

I would comment on the multiplayer, but quite frankly, I was never really able to get a game started, and I abandoned it pretty quickly.

So I guess the bottom line is: was Arkham Origins necessary? Does it add to the larger mythology that Rocksteady built with their games? I would have to say no, since Arkham Knight only mentions the events of this game in passing, and there's brief hints setting up the events of Arkham Asylum that aren't really necessary. As a look into the early career of Batman in the Arkham games universe it's solid but somewhat unsubstantial. For a first full game from a new developer- WB Games Montreal- it's flawed in a lot of ways- the corrupted save still stings, most of its great parts come from other developers- but I liked it in the end. It was a fun little diversion, and in some ways a stronger game than Arkham Knight at least, but we'll cross that blown up bridge to Gotham when we come to it.

--Dan

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