392: Batman: Arkham Origins

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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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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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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.


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Re: 392: Batman: Arkham Origins

Post by duskvstweak » July 17th, 2019, 5:51 pm

I had a surprisingly great time with Arkham Origins. It had actual boss fights this time around and I was surprised to see C-list Batman villains like Firefly make for some pretty great set pieces. And Deathstroke always makes for an exciting fight, especially if you don't realize you accidentally turned off the command prompts...

I think, because I have such an affinity for Batman Returns, I'm always partial to a good Batman Christmas story. One of the complaints I've seen go around about Origins is that the city itself is fairly sparse on life, but, to me, it captured the lonely emptiness of the streets on Christmas Eve. It helps hammer home the point that Batman has nothing else to do on this holiday.

I actually really liked the story and made sure not to think too hard on the fact that all of Batman's villains are making their first appearance on the same night. But, accepting the coincidence of it all, it actually builds to some pretty exciting moments. We get Bane, mostly due to the Dark Knight Rising's inclusion of the character, but, here, he's incredibly accurate to the comics and fights with more style then "charging into walls". The rooftop fight in the snow stands out to me as being exciting and cinematic.

Plus, that version of Carol of the Bells...very nice.

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Re: 392: Batman: Arkham Origins

Post by ClassicTails55 » July 26th, 2019, 3:21 pm

This was the first game I ever pre-ordered, which is something I have only done a handful of times, even in my irresponsible youth. I loved Asylum/City, so I was definitely excited enough to take the pre-order plunge.

I booked the day off work weeks before, got a load of snacks ready and waited at home on release day. The game never arrived! An issue with the address label meant that it was returned to Amazon and my money refunded. Not the game’s fault! But maybe a part of my slight disillusionment with this title comes from this experience. I then read online that people were having issues with bugs and massive slowdown, which was rumoured to be caused by using the fast travel feature. I decided to wait for a patch to come out before I reordered a copy.

Many weeks later, I picked up the game. It was quite good really, but not in the same league as the previous games. I liked the new Batman, great voice and Batsuit. The Deathstroke fight was awesome, the best part of the game. I remember laughing at the “Jingle bells, batman smells” thug probably a bit too much. But there were too many issues for me to love Origins as much as the others. Side note - The Cold Heart DLC is great! Perhaps better than the actual main game!

On to the bad points then:

The Joker as main villain again. We get it, please do something new.

There is still some visible slowdown when traveling around the city, on my PS3 at least. Just doesn’t seem as polished as the other games. Combat also doesn’t feel as tight to me.

Also plot holes! – Does everything make sense when compared to the other games? How old is everyone? Bane is very different. Maybe it can all be explained. I like to think the game takes place in a separate universe, so I don’t have to think about it.

Dark knight system – I have forgotten I’m batman, because now I have anxiety about getting these all finished in one playthrough. These challenges restricted how I played the game. They have to be done IN ORDER, but the required predator rooms don’t respawn, meaning there are limited chances to complete certain tasks. Important skills/gear are locked behind this system. Missed one? You’ll have to do it on the harder new game plus or start a new save. This should have been tested and fixed before release.

Multiplayer – I don’t do online multiplayer. I have never played this, so I shouldn’t judge. But I will! It is unnecessary and probably terrible.

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Re: 392: Batman: Arkham Origins

Post by seansthomas » August 12th, 2019, 9:43 pm

For the life of me I don't understand why this is the forgotten child of the Arkham series. I presume it's because Rocksteady didn't officially make it, but I far prefer Origins to City.

Asylum was a tight, atmospheric game that perfectly captured the tone of the Animated series and comic books. It would have struggled to better replicate what this Batman fan wanted from a videogame at the time.

But I personally found City bloated, directionless and excessive. The attention to detail was astounding but I spent much of the game feeling confused how to get into a building, navigate a wall in my path or prioritise one of the countless side missions slap bang in front of me. It overwhelmed my senses.

Origins gets criticised for being rough and empty compared to City. I get the former point as the combat is a little less tight and the inventory selection is irritating, but I didnt find the latter a problem. If anything, I found it a huge benefit. I can see why it got that reputation; Gotham feels far quieter, more panoramic and at times almost film noir here. It's not got the vibrant neon or sense of the streets being abandoned in a hurry that City had, but I found it far more eerie and akin to the incarnations of Batman I prefer. Also the reason for empty streets in both City and Origins is equally contrived but I really liked approaching cops in Origins, never quite knowing if they would be needing my help or seeking to ambush me.

The far fewer side missions meant I bothered to do a lot of them this time around and they seemed more interesting to me. They also tied into the characters really well.

In fact the story held my attention far more than City's did. The story felt borne of the Batman: Year One comic and it was great seeing Gordon become an ally and the villians taking shape. The crime scenes were all short and sweet but really nailed what I love about Batman so much; at his best he uses his brain and his brawn equally, something City tended to overlook.

Boss battles in this series had been pretty sketchy previously. Scarecrow in Asylum and Mr. Freeze in City aside, none of them had done anything for me. I don't know if I was expecting very little from these accordingly due to previous games but I enjoyed just about every one in this game, though many were variations on combat. They played to the cast of villains' unique traits, though Deathstroke felt like a QuickTime event occasionally. As a set of bad guys, this crop is far less well known but I think it benefited the stand offs.

It felt a bit odd that Batman had better gadgets in this game than the sequels and I feel a slight opportunity was lost to have Bruce Wayne use a tighter, more basic inventory that explained how his kit developed before Asylum, but I get that players want new things. I just would have found it more interesting to have his gadgets be more lo-fi though canonically. Playing on Wii U meant I also got a handy map and the electro-powered gloves which I had to ban myself from using due to making the combat unbalanced.

All in all, I really don't get the hate Origins got from reviewers and fans at the time. Maybe it was fatigue or better games released around the time, but it's a title I got a lot of joy from.

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