Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman game set five years before Arkham Asylum
The beginning of the Batman: Arkham story.
Batman: Arkham Origins followed the success of both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, and was released before Arkham Knight. Yet, despite being the third instalment in terms of release order, its storyline is set five years before the events of Arkham Asylum, making it the narrative beginning of the Batman: Arkham series.
Arkham Origins is the only game in the series to be developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal, rather than Rocksteady Studios. However, the game utilises the same modified Unreal Engine that Rocksteady's games use, meaning the controls, combat system and other gameplay elements are largely the same. So how does it compare?
Back to the Start
Inspired by graphic novels like Batman: Year One and Batman: The Man Who Laughs, Arkham Origins largely focuses on the relationship between a young, unrefined Batman and his arch-nemesis, The Joker. The plot itself sees Dead Mask place a bounty on Batman's head, attracting the attention of villains like The Joker, Bane and Killer Croc.
Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker provide the voices of Batman and The Joker, taking over from Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, respectively. Although Conroy and Hamill enjoy great popularity amongst Batman fans, both replacements do a fine job, minimising the impact of the change.
The game's storyline is compelling and touches on a number of complicated themes, such as the similarities between Batman and The Joker, as well as the question of whether Batman's presence actually increases the level of crime in Gotham City. These more complicated issues are when the plot, and game as a whole, are at its strongest.
Arkham Origins' gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who has played any of the other games in the series, with a third person perspective and a mixture of action, stealth and puzzle elements. This familiarity is both a plus point and a negative, as while it makes it easy to pick up and play and ensures the gameplay is strong, the lack of major changes means it lacks true innovation.
That said, there are a number of additions: a new 'Detective Vision' gives players more work to do when analysing crime scenes and a new fast travel system has also been added, allowing players to summon the Batwing and move swiftly to other areas. Multi-player gameplay has also been added for the first time, although it isn't a particularly strong part of Arkham Origins and even feels a little bit unnecessary.
Slight changes have been made to combat, although these serve to make encounters last longer, which brings back the repetitive feeling some experienced with Arkham Asylum. On the positive side, the open world setting is vast, wisely taking after Arkham City and giving players plenty of scope for exploration.
Overall, Arkham Origins is a strong effort and will please fans, but falls slightly short of being absolutely essential.
- Excellent storyline, which explores some interesting themes
- Character models and locations look very impressive
- 'Detective Vision' crime scenes are a good addition
- Feels like an optional instalment in the series, rather than a vital one
- Some combat sections can feel long and repetitive