With the absence of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, Arkham Origins was held to light with hesitation. I’ll even admit that I came into the game with a bit of trepidation but nevertheless; I was left relatively satisfied with what I was given. “Relatively” being the keyword here.
Even without the iconic voices, I found Batman, the Joker, and the rest of the villains to be extraordinary well done. Roger Craig Smith may not have been Kevin Conroy but his performance was just as riveting. He did an excellent job at bringing out the anger in Batman.
Now, as for the Joker, Troy Baker did a phenomenal job. I was absolutely blown away at how much I loved his voice as a younger Joker. Since Arkham Origins portrays the first ever confrontation between Batman and the Joker, the emphasis on the Joker’s initial reactions to Batman were key… and without spoiling any of the fun, the game did a wondrous job at bringing the Joker to life and to a maddening fruition.
That being said, this game is certainly not a masterpiece, especially in comparison to Arkham City and Arkham Asylum. The plot is disappointingly short and the hired assassins are used primarily as filler. Only a few actually pertain to the overall story arc while the rest are strictly side missions. I had hoped for some interplay from the assassins, like how Deadshot interrupts Deathstroke in the trailer; however, I was inevitably disappointed. Even the marketed emphasis on Deathstroke turned out to be a ‘one fight gig.’ But I digress.
The gameplay and mechanics mimic those of previous Arkham titles. Gadgets are heavily utilized and you’ll see a few new toys as well as some evidently renamed ones (i.e. the glue grenade being identical to the freeze grenade in Arkham City). The new gadget or technique of detective mode is absolutely groundbreaking. Being able to reconstruct a crime scene and piece together the clues was an excellent addition the experience.
The experience feature from Arkham City returns with a few extra challenges alongside. Experience can be gathered from challenge maps, most wanted boards, and Dark Knight challenges. Fighting is always a safe way to build up some experience and although the mechanics are essentially the same as Arkham City at their core the implementation of these mechanics bears a stark difference.
As someone who took the time to perfect each Arkham title, I’ve found that the combat was slowed down and by that I mean Batman has slowed down. Actions that would previously break the free flow of combat are now essential to keeping with the pace. I found myself being forced to wait for enemies to attack instead of bringing the fight to them. It isn’t a game-breaking feature but it certainly took some time to get use to.
Speaking of game-breaking features, at launch Arkham Origins is riddled with glitches, bugs, and some frustrating trip-ups. The game would periodically freeze, audio would go in and out during some cutscenes, some parts of the map would cause Batman to clip through them and fall outside of the map. Although I found these and many other bugs on the console version, the steam community has highlighted numerous issues that they’ve found that appear to correlate across the platforms with the game. I was able to work around the occasional freeze and audio bug but it would’ve been nice to have some more polished. Not to mention the fact that the level of buggery during the launch of this game was borderline unprofessional in my eyes. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed though. There has already been a patch releases to fix a few of the game breaking features. I can only hope for more.
As for the future of the Arkham franchise, the implementation of the multiplayer mechanic is bold but not entirely refined. It is a strange and clunky experience wandering around the map as Joker/Bane henchmen trying to kill each other as well as fend off Batman/Robin. I’ll admit a bit of ecstasy when I get the chance to control the Joker and Bane during the match but it doesn’t necessarily make up for the strangeness of this addition.
Essentially, the concept of the multiplayer is excellent. Two opposing factions fighting each other while two heroes try to stop them. It’s a fun venture when you and a friend are stalking these henchmen as the caped crusader and his trusty sidekick but it can be frustrating when you’re bumbling henchmen trying to stay alive. I guess what I hope for, in the future, is for the Arkham franchise to really capitalize on the cooperative mentality. The amount of fun players could have gliding around Gotham with their friend fighting henchmen and villains alike would be astronomical.
To even think of an Arkham story that implemented co-operative gameplay would also be a riveting experience as well. Switch out Robin with Nightwing or Catwoman and implement them or one of them into the main storyline. It has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, that’s not something I can say for the multiplayer. It’s safe to say that I was extremely disappointed when I discovered that disc two of Arkham Origins was strictly multiplayer and not a second part of the singleplayer.
Despite the flaws though, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Arkham Origins. I’d recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Batman and/or the Joker. You’ll find the after credits scene to tease a spin off and to be frank, I can’t say I’m opposed to the idea.
All in all, Arkham Origins is not a bad game. It is not a poorly executed Arkham title and stands quite firmly as its own game in this franchise. The storyline, despite being brief, is riveting and quite surprising. Seeing Gotham fear and even question the existence of Batman was a strong experience for me. It made bringing Batman to life all the more real. I just wish there was more of it to experience.