Review by Ben Pierson.
I first played Arkham City because a friends recommended it as “Assassins Creed but you’re Batman”. I went out a brought it that same day and I was massively not disappointed. I loved every aspect of it so on completion I went and brought Arkham Asylum (Yes, I know I played the second game before the first, I did it with Mass Effect and I’ll probably do it again with another series I’ll end up wanting to marry.) Asylum was understandably less shiny and well put together as City but that was to be expected. City learnt from Asylum. It’s progression, it’s how things evolve. Sadly the same cannot be said for Arkham Origins. Or Mass Effect: Andromeda but let's not get into that here.
Having the origin story as the 3rd instalment struck me as a bit odd but I enjoy the Star Wars movies (except those three, you know what ones I’m talking about) so I can deal with it, even if in this game you get better weapons and the same upgrades as you get in later games that are set after this one but made before. We could argue that different suits require different upgrades but then we have to wonder if the thugs and bullets get stronger as the years go on or if we should just ignore that bit as it’s a video game and writing the last sentence gave me a headache as it is...
The basic premise is this; It’s Christmas Eve, loads of people don’t believe Batman is a real thing yet as basically no one has seen him except apparently Black Mask who offers a bunch of assassins $50,000,000 to the one who kills Batman. I don’t think Black Mask is 100% on the existence of Batman at the beginning of the game but he seem to think it’s worth getting contract killers involved but they only get paid if they do it tonight because reasons. Amongst those who make up the list of assassins after us, we have some well known such as Bane and Deadshot and other, perhaps not so much. Personally, ‘Copperhead’ sounds to me like an insult to be hurled cruelly at ginger people by insecure children. Alfred doesn’t really help the Caped Crusader very much by making snarky comments. Calling the Electrocutioner ‘Shocking’? People are dying here Pennyworth!
Although the game is a prequel and is set before City, it feels like it was made before the others too. A bit doughy when compared to its sleeker predecessor. It reminds me of Asylum which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but City was such a vast improvement on the second that to regress feel like such a step back even if it is to something that wasn’t bad. It doesn’t mean it’s not good, you still get to runaround as Bats, beating up nameless thugs and there’s loads of hidden things to find and a decent amount of fan service. It’s good but it just feels ‘not bad’
I don’t know if the graphics had been made to look like Origins look closer to the first game (some of the characters, like ‘Loose Lips’ but me in mind of a more Borderlands art style) or if I’m over romanticising City, but this does not look or feel like something that came out halfway between City and Arkham Knight.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the Arkham series, however I can’t see me returning for another hour to this particular chapter. If you haven’t played it before and want an extra chunk of DC night crawling, go for it. I’ll probably just be over here replaying Knight and totally not getting emotional about any relationships or deaths that may or may not happen. And if you utterly disagree with me I shall borrow a line from Thug #3: “Would it help if I said I was sorry?”