Wot I Think: Batman – Arkham Origins

By Adam Smith on October 30th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Despite its name, Arkham Origins isn’t so much Batman Begins as Batman Continues. A cynic might presume that the handing of the license to a new studio and rapid turn-around of the sequel suggests that Batman is mainly continuing because Pennyworth needs a new pair of shoes. But has the vigilante become a mercenary or is this another solid entry in the series? Here’s wot I think.

Rocksteady created a franchise within a franchise across their two Arkham games. The simple, tightly focused storyline that saw Batman trapped inside with all the other lunatics for a night used the DC license well, cramming secrets and references in the darkest corners of the titular facility. Popping the Arkham name in front of City, displacing Gotham in the process, just about worked in the context of the madly overblown Super Prison storyline of the second game, but Arkham Origins isn’t about the beginnings of the Asylum. It’s about the beginnings of the franchise, a prequel that returns to the well and finds it rather dry, but dips in and brings up a bucket of mud anyhow.

Batman still biffs thugs in the free-flow combat style that is as much rhythm action as beat ‘em up. He still stalks terrified mobsters and henchmen, dangling them from lampposts and gargoyles. There are gadgets to collect and upgrade, side missions to distract from the urgent business of assassination, and boss battles against villains, some of which are super, most of which are ordinary.

Origins plays out across the same beats that worked to good effect in its predecessors but Warner Bros Montreal hammer their instruments like a hastily assembled cover band. As a Batman game, Origins lacks the claustrophobia and fear of Asylum, and the hyper-exaggerated heroic spectacle of City, and as an Arkham game it’s a little like a collection of undesirable B-sides (not Sci-Fi Lullabies, the greatest B-side album).

The plot has some promise. Bruce Wayne is at the early stages of his career as a crime fighter, although he’s been operating for a couple of years rather than a couple of weeks, and many of Gotham’s great and grotesque still think The Bat is nothing more than a myth. They’re frightened of it – and many of them do think of Batman as monster rather than man – even if they’re not sure that it’s real. Makes sense. They are a cowardly and superstitious lot, after all.

Black Mask believes in the Bat though. As Gotham’s mobster king, he wants rid of the vigilante and decides to invite the world’s most accomplished assassins to Gotham, offering a humongous cash prize to the one who eliminates Batman. A vulnerable, beleaguered Wayne, hunted in his own city, could have been interesting, shifting the flow of the game from the increasingly typical Ubi-style experience of running from activity to activity on a cluttered map.

As in Arkham City, Batman has the freedom of Gotham but it’s still an empty place, the streets harbouring an occasional pocket of perps but devoid of ordinary civilians. The previous game explained its empty streets by altering the structure and purpose of Gotham. Origins’ reasoning is far more flimsy and unconvincing. It’s Christmas Eve and there’s a heavy snowstorm so people have been instructed to stay indoors. There are no last minute Christmas shoppers nipping to Argos to buy a novelty pepper mill, no crowds of carollers or carousers. If it weren’t for the gangs of thugs, Gotham would be quiet as a mouse.

It feels like a ghost town, with nobody to protect and nobody to serve. That would be fine if Batman felt like a target but he continues to be the instigator, spending the first couple of hours collecting SIM cards from criminals in order to trace signals back to Penguin’s location. It’s important to find Penguin because he knows where Black Mask is and because he’s one of the few members of the rogue’s gallery included here that a casual fan might recognise.

I actually read Batman comics, even now, after the whimpering New 52 launch. In fact, the Court of Owls storyline that kicked off the relaunched Batman provided a decent template for a storyline that wasn’t reliant on recognisable villains and had Batman reeling and defeated, at war with the essence of Gotham rather than a man in a costume. The villains in Origins are weak, particularly the assassins themselves, and it’s telling that some of the game’s strongest moments arrive when it leans back on the safety of everybody’s favourite clown.

It’s not that the likes of Deadshot, Deathstroke and Copperhead are inherently dull, but they’re given short shrift, barely established before they are reduced to boss fight purgatory. At their least inspiring, the villain confrontations tweak the free-flow combat system slightly, as with Bane. His encounters aren’t new, being variations on those in Arkham Asylum, and they add little more to the flurry of punches and counters than an extra-large lump to evade until the time is right to chip away at its health bar.

The brawling itself, more dance than devastation, is almost as effective as it was in the previous two games. It suffers from repetition. There are various types of basic thug – armoured, knife-wielding etc. – but there are hundreds of them between Batman and whatever objective he’s chasing at any given time. Even the physicality of the fights feels undersold in comparison to the chunky impact of Arkhams past. The environments don’t help – despite the open world hub, many missions feel more corridor-bound than the Asylum did.

Predator sections, wherein the player uses a combination of stealth and gadgetry to take down a group of enemies, are the other punctuation mark in the rambling winter’s tale. Little has been added and, again, something has been lost. Partly, every problem can be traced back to the fact that what was fresh in Arkham Asylum has become formulaic, The sprawl and silliness of the second game strained the core of the game, adding spectacle and scale at the cost of focus, but Rocksteady’s craft and muscular polish carried the weight of the game’s immense absurdities. Origins is drab in comparison.

Improved crime scene investigations are one of the few additions that Warner Montreal have added to the formula, permitting the player to rewind a holographic re-enactment of events to discover evidence. It’s an enjoyable diversion but there aren’t nearly enough scenes to allow for more than a basic exploration of the idea. Until the last couple of scenes, investigations feel like a tutorial for a part of the game that never really arrives.

I’ve read about enough bugs to give an entomologist a wet dream and I’ve encountered a couple myself. Most irritating was a door that refused to open, leaving me to explore every corner of a large room in search of another way out. Turns out I just had to reload my autosave to unjam the door, which occasionally becomes inexplicably broken. There are glitches – enemies freezing in place, animations twitching – and noticing how much they annoyed me brought me to a realisation.

The Arkham games have been among the few honest-to-goodness blockbuster releases that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in recent times. Rocksteady backed up solid design with strong tech, and a high degree of polish. Take away the latter and even with the license still in place and the basics of the mechanics carried across, Origins is lacking. It feels uninspired, like filler between main courses, and highlights how important the shininess of previous Arkham games was. That’s not an insult, it’s a recognition of the kind of games they are. Big, daft and brash.

Origins isn’t big, daft or brash enough. It makes the missteps of Arkham City seem less clumsy and makes me hope that Rocksteady really are working on a sequel of their own or the rumoured Silver Age Batman game. They have used the license well, to tell preposterous but entertaining stories, and they are the definite masters of the mechanics they created. Origins is confused and hollow in comparison, taking place in a city full of enemies and encounters, but lacking purpose. In this incarnation, Gotham doesn’t deserve to be saved.

The side missions don’t help matters, feeling like distractions and, on the whole, offering less variety and challenge than in the previous games. One Riddler objective was behind a locked door but a nearby building provided access via a balcony. I could grapple to any other rooftop or ledge in the area but that one was locked off, even though it looked identical. I had to go through the door. There’s a lack of logic, and Batman’s freedom and toolset don’t always work as they should.

If you need more Batman and another Arkham game, Origins just about fits the bill. The dish is recognisable but it’s fast food rather than gourmet. Add a sprinkle of glitches and upcoming DLC that will continue the story, which feels incomplete, and you’re left with the sort of meal that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Batman: Arkham Origins is available now. I’ve barely touched the multiplayer, developed by Splash Damage, but it pits two sets of crooks against each other, with Batman and Robin as a third team in the middle. It might well be the best part of the game, although it’s probably best to judge it when player numbers remain steady/dwindle.

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88 Comments »

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  1. db1331 says:

    Pretty much exactly what I expected when I first heard Rocksteady wasn’t making it.

    • gnr219 says:

      It’s too bad people like you (and probably the reviewer) so clearly pre-judged this because it wasn’t made by the gods you think work at Rocksteady. Because of this bias, many of the flaws in City (idiotic crime scene “investigations,” schizophrenic story, implausible setting) were overlooked before, but aren’t being overlooked now.

      • Arglebargle says:

        I’d have to agree. Picked up Arkham City recently, and found it pretty dull and pointless, poorly set up, etc. Having read up on the game, I knew that I might not care for it, so it least it was not an uniformed waste of money at least. Maybe that Montreal team’s work is just not for me.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        Of course the flaws aren’t being overlooked now. City had evolved and increased in scope, it was a significant change to the previous game. Origins is a repeat, and repeating a game just makes those cracks harder to ignore. Especially when they’ve actually gotten wider.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        They weren’t overlooked. They were looked at quite heavily. City should have been a terrible game but was saved by the fact that the people that made it really understood the formula and how to make something fun to play. Origins doesn’t have that saving grace. It’s more of the same but without the spice that barely saved the last one.

        • gnr219 says:

          “City should have been a terrible game but was saved by the fact that the people that made it ..”

          Heh, thanks for proving my point. If you’ve played the game, please explain what exactly you mean by “spice.” I’m really getting the sense more than ever that people are just unloading on Origins with all the double standards they have at their disposal, simply because the “people that made it” aren’t considered as magical.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            What is your point? Because all you seem to have to say is that Origins is as bad as City, and poo pooing anyone who dares to have a different opinion to yours. I enjoyed asylum, I disliked city but I like origins, are you going to retain your integrity and tell me that I am wrong too or are you just being another hypocrite, looking to justify your circular beliefs about a matter of opinion.

          • gnr219 says:

            ” I enjoyed asylum, I disliked city but I like origins, are you going to retain your integrity and tell me that I am wrong too or are you just being another hypocrite”

            You seem very confused. I have no issues with anyone liking individual Arkham games more than others, as long as their reasons are coherent. (Some opinions can be better justified than others). Without knowing why you prefer Origins to City, I can’t know whether your opinion is poorly founded or not. However, from reading many of the posts and reviews of this game, all of which immediately acknowledge that Rocksteady didn’t make it, and then proceed to make several nonunique criticisms that should have been made against City two years ago, I can know (or think) that many opinions on this game are in fact hypocritical.

            My main point, again, is that reviewers are either dropping the ball now, or they dropped the ball back when City came out. Good game design doesn’t become bad in two years’ time.

            Of course, if all you want to do is say “opinions are opinions and cannot be debated,” then there’s no point engaging in a discussion with you about anything except, maybe, the weather.

          • boundless08 says:

            I think you’re confused, no one proved your point. He said that the people who made it knew how to make a game such as city work, the team that made origins didn’t. It has nothing to do with who the team was, or even if you knew which team made which game.

            Game A is better than game B which is pretty much the same game, therefore team A must be better at making that particular game.

          • CurlyBrace says:

            Way to quote out of context, good job.

          • gnr219 says:

            I didn’t take anything out of context. He didn’t state anything meaningful after the quote. To be clear, here’s the full quote, complete with its vague and vapid praise of Rocksteady:

            “Rocksteady really understood the formula and how to make something fun to play. Origins doesn’t have that saving grace. It’s more of the same but without the spice that barely saved the last one.”

            That paragraph could have been written by someone who has not even played or seen a single video of Origins. (And it probably was). Swap two words out, and it could apply to almost any sequel ever made in any medium. There’s just nothing there.

            Like many others in these comments, he has refused to state exactly why he thinks AO is worse than City. He is rationalizing his initial decision to write off the game because of its new developer…there’s no substance to any of what he wrote (just vague claims about “spice”, whatever that means).

          • Fataleer says:

            I looked forward to B Origins. Visuality looked very solid, setting sounded awesome (early Batman and night where he is hunted instead of being ordnary predator) and all in all I though it would have been an extra awesome game. When I heard it is not developedy by original dev I wasn’t happy – I really enjoyed the style of the whole package. But I thought that why not — perspective changes…

            Only review I read before spending 8 hours with it, was Kotaku’s verdict box, where it said — Yes, you should play it. I took it as affirmation, that catastrophe averted. I was right.

            The problem with Origins is not that it is failure and does not work at all, it is in fact that as a whole it is not as convicing. The mechanics are solid, if same as in previous games, graphics is very okay textures are in nice resolution, if same in style), the story is not focused. It does not spoil evening meals, yes, but it is not main course. It is hard to put in words the thing that it lacks, but the focus sounds most correct.

            Specific points:
            Map design lacks polish. It is not just llogical puzzles as article mentions, it is the thing that a lot of times grappling hook just does not work as it looks it should. It basically looks a lot like City, which is crazy because this should be working city.
            Story lack proper pacing and is not innovative as it should have been.
            Characters are … how to put it… not well written to suit the city.

            It just lacks personality. It lacks the notion authors should have had in begining. It lack the emotinal state authors should want to transmit to us, consumers.

            It stiil is great game. I just do not need or want to finish. Unlike previous Batman games.

        • gnr219 says:

          Please explain exactly what Origins doesn’t do well that City did well. Enough of this “Rocksteady has that magic spice.” I want to hear specifics.

          The plot in City was ridiculous villain overload, and the setting was a feeble attempt to justify a total lack of bystanders. So please don’t criticize Origins’ “dead” Gotham unless you have the same complaint against Rocksteady’s hallowed work.

          • Humanji says:

            Seriously? You genuinely can’t see a difference in quality between the two games? It’s strange that you seem so desperate to defend Origins. You didn’t make it, so you don’t have to protect it.

          • JoeFX69 says:

            gnr219, in all your enlightened opinion on the subject and the patronisation of everyone who has engaged you, you appear to have overlooked the obvious.

            You come across as a massive arse

          • theblazeuk says:

            It’s nice that they have wi-fi under your bridge.

          • gnr219 says:

            I love that you’re calling me names (troll, ass) and then turn around and pretend I’m the one who’s out of line. I want specifics about your reasons for not liking Origins; because you haven’t even played it, and can offer no useful criticism of the game of any kind whatsoever (beyond “lol seriously it’s totes bad”), you seem to think it’s your cue to commence the grade-school level stupid insults . pretty pathetic. Actually, the best defense I can give AO is to point to these personal attacks, since presumably you wouldn’t have to resort to them if you had something substantive to say.

            But to answer your question (which itself was really a thinly veiled personal attack): Yes, I’m serious — I cannot see a meaningful difference in the quality of Arkham City vs. Origins. Origins has some minor bugs that City doesn’t have, but it’s crime scene investigations are much cooler (still dumb, though). Both plots are okay, but not great, and suffer from villain creep and lack of restraint. Both games have conveniently “dead” settings that reduce immersion, with no civilians wandering around. The fights and boss fights in Origin are slightly improved from City, thanks to some new enemy types. Cutscenes in Origins are a little better, but I liked the Joker more in City.

          • JoeFX69 says:

            gnr219, Im calling a spade a spade. YOU ARE being an arse. An arrogant, patronising, belittling arse, regardless whether you have a point or not. Thats not going “grade school on ya american ass”, thats just plain fact, and youre embarrassing yourself.

            Grow up.

          • gnr219 says:

            Again, you seem to think insults contribute to the discussion. They don’t. If I wanted to engage in a juvenile name-calling session, I’d go to a playground. It’s a shame you cannot see how unproductive you are being. Please stop responding! I have nothing more to say to you, and obviously you have nothing worthwhile to say to me, so please stop.

            Edit: Nice! there’s a block button. I will block you to avoid talking with you further. Why didn’t I notice this sooner??

            Anyway, if anyone has something productive to say in response to my questions, please feel free..note that comments about my ass are not particularly productive.

          • Sooty says:

            @gnr219 Your demands are unreasonable. Whether we like the game is obviously going to be subjective, and there is zero need defend ourselves if we know for a fact that we feel a sense of fatigue playing Origins that was not there when we played City. That’s how we feel, and no amount of shooting down our justifications is going to change that. You’d seem less dishonest and contrarian if you would actually be constructive and help us arrive at justifications that you believe would be more valid.

            Then again, why the hell does it even matter? You’re probably doing this here because you think City is beyond overrated. Okay. Well, I personally don’t give a rat’s ass whether I’m viewing City with rose-tinted glasses anymore because I’ve finished that game and I’m not going back to defend it just because someone thinks I shouldn’t have fond memories.

            Here’s another way of looking at it. Suppose you walk into the same bread store and buy the same bread every day. One particular week, you stop buying the bread and you come back next week and resume your routine again. You then realize that the bread didn’t taste as nice, and you asked around and find out that the chef has changed. Are you justified in thinking that the new chef is responsible for this change in feeling, and are you justified in appreciating the old chef a little more? I believe so.

            I had no idea different people made the game until I felt dissatisfied with it and looked to reviews to confirm my feelings that it wasn’t going to get any better. If this was the game presented to me by the previous studio, I would have felt the same way about it, but the point is that it wasn’t made by the same studio. That sequence of events itself should justify me feeling that it was the game studio’s fault that this game isn’t as awesome as the previous one, and that actually makes me appreciate that old game studio more.

            In any case, your ravings (frankly they’re really mean-spirited and aggressive) are a drop in the ocean – most reviews and players say the same thing as this article. If you’re trying to sway opinions, it’s not working. Then again I doubt you’re out to persuade given the tone you’re adopting. You keep asking us to justify their opinions. Maybe you’d like to enlighten us as to what you’re trying to do here and why you’re so visibly outraged by our opinions?

          • gnr219 says:

            There’s nothing “mean-spirited and aggressive” about anything I said. I never called anyone a troll, and I never called anyone an “ass” who is “raving.” Having a strong opinion doesn’t make me “mean-spirited and aggressive,” and even if it does, other people here are far more worthy of your ire than me.

            Putting aide your rather selective comment about “mean-spiritedness”, my questions are geared to figuring out why people do not like Origins, when they liked City. Your post was fairly long, but still did not touch on anything substantive — you simply compared the games to bread that tastes slightly less fulfilling.

            I suspect the reason I’m not getting anything substantive is that people are just tired of the formula, and are realizing the formula was never really that great in the first place — it was more a novelty, of having a capable superhero game. Unfortunately, instead of people saying “Maybe this game was never that great,” people are bizarrely blasting the studio and criticizing the game with a serious of unreasonable, nonunique arguments that could have easily applied to City..

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            UW says:

            Honestly, I think the issue is that there is nothing new at all about the game. Almost any changes they actually have made are superficial. They replaced one of his line launchers with a different one that only latches onto particular objects, they replaced ice with glue. The combat system is virtually identical, even the overworld is mostly the same as the previous game. I think that’s the real issue here. I don’t have any new-found respect for Rocksteady, but I already respected the fact that A) They created this formula in the first game and B) They expanded upon and improved it in the second game. This new studio must have had access to the source code of Arkham City, that being the case it seems almost insulting to list them as developers. It comes across as plagiarism to me. They have basically repackaged Arkham City. It feels like a reasonably well-done mod rather than a whole new game in its own right.

            That said, I enjoy the game because I haven’t yet got tired of the formula. The story is entertaining enough and all the core mechanics have been faithfully restored. Problem is, when I’m actually playing the game (i.e. outside of the story aspects), it feels like I am just re-playing Arkham City for the most part, or maybe a DLC for it. When I buy a brand new full-priced game I expect a little bit more than that.

          • Sooty says:

            The game has taken steps in small design decisions back even though it’s largely the same. That’s what being laid squarely on the new game studio feet, and rightly so. Chronological order matters as well, unless you think gamers should encourage the gaming industry should churn out repeats after repeats by praising them for creating another “good” game. Hint: even with the most awesome game you’d get bored after playing it one too many times.

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        ffordesoon says:

        Because it’s not like a game can be great in spite of flaws, right?

        • Scrooge McDuck says:

          But how?

          I’ve heard this type of arguments against Arkham Origins. “Oh, it’s just the same as Arkham City, but…”

          “… it’s lost that Rocksteady magic.”
          “… it lacks the craft.”
          “… it doesn’t have the spice that barely saved the last one.”

          But nobody seems to really explain. How?

          • gnr219 says:

            Exactly — There are a LOT of complaints about Rocksteady not developing this. And every review mentions that WB Montreal took over for Rocksteady — most of the time, in the beginning of the review. But no one has done a good job explaining why Origins doesn’t live up to Rocksteady’s efforts. Having played all 3 games, I think the only problem with Origins is that it’s “more of the same.” But all these bogus complaints about Origins’ plot, or the mechanics, or the setting — they’re all feeble attempts to rationalize an irrational respect for Rocksteady’s work.

          • Humanji says:

            The review says it quite clearly. It lacks polish, it’s incredibly buggy (to the point of being game-breaking), there’s a severe lack of detail, the characters are shoehorned in even worse than they are in City, the map is illogically designed. Play the two games and you’ll easily see what people mean.

          • gnr219 says:

            Dude, I have played both games. You seem to be the only one in this conversation who hasn’t. I still don’t know what a “lack of polish” means, or how the characters could have been “Shoehorned in” anymore than they were in City. Seriously — City had about 20 villains — so many the devs had to turn an entire city into a prison to fit them…”Incredibly buggy” seems like hyperbole, since I’m sure I could believe the amount of bugs in the game. I haven’t encountered any, but whatever.

            So again, what do you mean by “lack of polish?” The RB doesn’t grapple you all the places you want RB to grapple you to? Batman’s cape sometimes clips? I can’t tell you how ridiciulously inane that criticism sounds, and it’s just as inert and nonunique to someone who has actually played AC and AO. It feels like, as stated below, that people have written this off because of its developer, and are now seeking dishonest ways to justify and rationalize that decision.

            Put another way: Had Rocksteady’s name been on this — be honest — do you really think people would be making all these criticisms as bitterly as they are? I think they’d be saying “More of the same, still great.”

          • Justin Keverne says:

            So far I’m finding Origin’s to be more coherent in structure and plot that City ever was. Storm ravaged Gotham on Christmas Eve makes a for a much more logical location than walled off section of Gotham used as a giant prison. Also having eight assassin’s out to kill Batman gives the game a reason to include multiple villains with a motivation other than “well it’s a prison so of course the are there”. The plot is stronger too, it actually revolves around Batman being a detective instead of bumbling from one villain to the next because the Joker told him to.

            That said, where Origins starts to fall down is in the details. Transitions, between camera angles and animations are the big one. The camera has a habit of snapping or jerking between different positions and there’s occasionally lag between animations that can throw you off your timing; to be honest City had some of those animation issues but the cape was used to hid a lot of the more egregious transitions. There’s multiple instances of dialogue being cut off or just not playing at all. The camera in the combat sections still pulls back and up to a position where you shouldn’t need to worry about moving it, but Origins frequently puts you into combat in confined interior spaces where the camera can position itself well enough to avoid you getting attacked from characters outside your field of view.

            The grapnel boost returns from City but a number of the buildings are designed in such a way that you’ll boost off them and fly straight into a slightly higher wall that it wouldn’t let you target initially. It’s a frequent source of frustration when you think you’re just going to soar up over the building and you instead fly into it or skim the top and get jerked into your walking animation.

          • gwathdring says:

            @gnr219 I haven’t played Origins, but I would like to say that I’m familiar with some of the feelings people are describing and I think you’re missing something. Specifically this: That some people may be rationalizing their experiences poorly doesn’t mean they a) didn’t play both games or b) have nothing of substance they could add if they really took the time to wade into that. I’ve had that fuzzy “this feels off and is missing something even though when I think about it, it checks off the boxes of things I should like” feeling. Sometimes I come to the conclusion it’s an unfortunate fluke and sometimes I’m able to, after much thought, figure out some of the subtle things that are subverting my expectations. It’s of course much more complicated with a sequel because my expectations are obviously colored by my experience with the series thus far (if I’ve played it). I’m sorry people have been rude to you, but it seems odd that you mentioned the importance of discussion opinions even if they’re subjective, wibbly and influenced by our biases and are being very intolerant of discussion that doesn’t fit your preferred levels of supposed objectivity. I think this is part of why people are calling you aggressive.

            I’ve been there. :P For me it’s not just one comment thread, though, but pretty much everywhere I go. People find my form of rhetoric inherently aggressive regardless of my delivery because I’m insistent, opinionated, confident, and while not explicitly disrespectful I don’t go out of my way to acknowledge the validity of other people’s subjective experience because I take for granted that it’s no less valid than my own (and why shouldn’t I be confident? I know I could as easily be wrong as anyone else, but if I wasn’t sure I THINK I’m right I’m going to act like I think I’m right). I’d suggest going out of your way to acknowledge peoples subjective experience as valid and affirming the subjective limitations of you own analysis–not because it’s a logical necessity of the argument or because the trite, freshman idea that everything’s subjective is particularly meaningful at the small scale of this discussion, but rather because people have made it clear that you’re making them uncomfortable and there’s no amount of logic that’s going to change that; for whatever reason the way you’re writing makes people feel like you think your words are more “correct” and that you think there’s something wrong with them and the way they form opinions and if this last bit doesn’t sound inherently insulting to you, well it is to a lot of people. Not your fault, but it IS something you can try to correct for if you care to try to avoid this response in the future. Just some thoughts. This post is WAY longer than it should be, by the way, but everything I want to say is difficult for me to condense to the number of words I feel it’s “worth.” Apologies.

            Back on topic a bit. Artistic criticism is hard. It’s a lot easier to just speak experientially. Is a lot of the problem that Origins is just the same thing over again and people are tired of it? Undoubtedly. Does that imply, retroactively, that Arkham City was over-praised just because people seem to find all the flaws more important the second time around? No. No, that’s you being just as unfair as you’re claiming everyone else is being. It’s totally reasonable to find the same flaw more of a problem when it’s done twice in a row for the same price. That’s why the endless charm of the Lego games just isn’t enough for me–unlike RPS the continual camera angle issues and such are just too annoying for me to work through and it gets worse every time not because it gets *worse* but because it’s exhausting.

            Bear in mind, it’s not just that Rocksteady has a fanbase. Their fanbase is related to their success with making the first two games which people liked for a number of reasons. They also showed that, whether you liked both games or not, they knew how to make a sequel that wasn’t as much of a redundant cash in as Origins is next to City. That’s *worth* respecting. That people rationalize their experience of Origins being less fun than City and feelings lightly “off” compared to city as having to do with the game being handled by a new team isn’t so unreasonable as you seem to be implying.

            I don’t know that I would feel the same way about Origins, but again–not everyone is adept at figuring out exactly what about a game makes them feel a certain way. That doesn’t mean their feeling is worthless or that there isn’t a substantive cause. I might not be able to identify that every dish in which tumeric is used, but I can damn well tell that I don’t like SOMETHING about the dish and I know from experience that tumeric, while hard for me to identify explicitly, creates flavors I dislike. Art IS kind of magical in that way. Tiny things like the exact angle of the wall in this deceptively rectangular room that’s really not rectangular but looks proper due to the designer understanding the illusions of a 3D video game, the position of the camera, the particular way in which the plot doesn’t make sense (the least sensible bits of Arkham City’s plot were mostly very true to the source material, and the best parts of it’s plot were improvements on a lot of comic book arcs I’ve come across) … all of this can be very, very difficult to pinpoint exactly in a logical fashion but can effect someone enough to make it VERY clear to them that they don’t like the experience they’re having.

            People talk about how Arkham City “shouldn’t have worked.” There are a lot of these fine detail touches that just *clicked* for a lot of people. Maybe it didn’t click for you; clearly it’s not a universal thing. But I’ve played a lot of games and Arkham City must have done a lot of tiny things right because it has the elusive sense of Quality when it’s in action even if some of the bigger picture stuff doesn’t fit together. It’s why Monty Python get to be silly and make fools of themselves and it gets quoted over and over and over and makes so many people laugh. It’s why Portal 1 was so much better for me the first play then other plays (as in, WAY more so than for most puzzle games I’ve played): it was an master class in how to teach new players an exciting, jarring new mechanic which just doesn’t feel as perfectly paced when you’re proficient at Thinking with Portals. I doubt sitting in on a brilliant teacher’s introductory Algebra class would feel as good to me now as it would have years ago, either.

            Arkham City isn’t as extreme as those examples, but again it’s those fine details that are so hard to pick out but have a particular affect on the experience. City was really well paced; replaying the plot reveals a lot of things that worked far better the first time then the second … but saying that means they really never worked in the first place would be somewhat lazy and unfair. There’s quite often more to it then that. It’s just really hard to explain what causes that feeling of quality sometimes! I’ve learned how to take that apart and understand that subjective assessment with more objective language when it comes to literature … but I don’t have years of formal study to help me do that with games and neither do most people. So “Rocksteady magic” it is.

      • Slight0 says:

        They way you keep saying you weren’t being aggressive makes me think you need to reread your inital post. Very clearly an aggressive opinion that belittles and trivializes the people you’re disagreeing with.

        It really just seems like you didn’t like either game and you’re attacking people who have picked up on the clear difference in the two.

        You want reasons? They’ve been stated plenty of times. Storyline, characters, and dialog are all subpar in Origins for a multitude of reasons. The map is barren and tasteless compared to City and there was more variety to mission environments in City. Not nearly as many riddler riddles and the ones that are there aren’t quite as engaging. The simple fact that Origins only tried to copied City rather then tred new ground is reason enough alone.

    • bill says:

      You may well have turned out to be right, but personally I’m not keen on this tendency of fans to write off games simply because of a new developer. It depends on the wider situation of course, but simply switching developer doesn’t mean that it’s going to suck.
      Games aren’t quite like movies or books where there is one author’s guiding vision. Though there may well be such a person, games tend to be made by teams of ever changing staff, and be a mix of technology, art, gameplay, vision etc.. As such the team name doesn’t seem to matter as much as people think. imho.

      • Slight0 says:

        Games are just like books, movies, and any other form of entertainment. The heads and creators are the game. They are what make the game great mostly. Technology plays a component, but not nearly as much as how that technology is used.

        It’s very reasonable to be skeptical of a switch in teams. People want to be optimistic, but when you look at the variables and the clear evidence that things have degraded and changed for the worst, that skepticism is confirmed.

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  2. Premium User Badge

    Martel says:

    Guess it’s a good thing it came free with my new video card, although now I’m wishing I had known the promo was changing and waited a week to get something different. I never finished the 2nd one because I got bored, and this doesn’t sound like it’s changing that.

  3. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    And not a citrus fruit in sight. You’ve changed RPS.

  4. Smuckers says:

    I actually liked it way more than I thought I would. I totally agree with all these complaints, especially the bugs, but…it’s more Batman. I’m not quite as burned-out on the formula as I thought I was, i guess. I’d say that if you liked Arkham City, and just want more of it, you’d probably enjoy it.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Yeah, I enjoyed it pretty much straight through, despite it very clearly not being as good as City — let alone Asylum.

      My biggest problem with it is this: why did this story need to be told? We all had a very good understanding of the relationship between Batman and the Joker going into Arkham Asylum. The majority of players have presumably seen the animated series, read some of the comics, or both. It makes the story, which really isn’t bad taken on its own, seem extraneous at best and forced at worst.

      Still, there’s enough good here that it will be a pretty good buy for 20 bones in a few months.

      • HothMonster says:

        Not to mention it is largely a retread of the themes done in the 2nd Nolan movie. That said I still enjoyed it.

      • Smuckers says:

        I think the best thing you could say about the story is that, it’s inoffensive. I kinda enjoyed the way the joker was introduced, and I thought the voice acting for most of the characters was, actually, not that bad! (even if I am partial to Mr. Hamill’s performances in the previous games). Really though, it all ends up feeling pretty much exactly like Arkham City, and covers most of the same ground that’s been beaten to death in numerous different formats already.

        My verdict? It’s the weakest entry in a series of fantastic games, and still more fun than most AAA games I can think of, off the top of my head.

    • Syphus says:

      Yea this is basically my thought.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I’m about 90% of the way through, and I find it hard to criticize a game, that’s essentially offering more of the same. It doesn’t break any new ground, and to be honest it seems I have a sense of fatigue about the whole thing after the second game. It’s more freeflow combat, it’s more predator maps, the only interesting new thing is the somewhat undercooked crime scene bits.

      But people seem surprisingly disappointed by it, for reasons I don’t quite understand. I ran into several bugs myself during my playthrough that seem unforgivable, but really the only duff notes were a couple of boss-fights that were glorified QTEs, and the more clinical nature of the interface. It’s safe to say the series has gotten a bit long in the tooth now, but taken on it’s own, I don’t think it’s a “bad” game (indeed, it’s one of the few I’ve played until the end through sheer enjoyment).

      It’s also really weird to play a christmas-themed game like this when it’s not christmas time.

  5. airtekh says:

    Well, I’ve put 30 hours into it so far, and am enjoying it immensely.

    It may be just ‘more Batman’, but the game delivers exactly what I wanted from it.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Because of the strength of the original two games’ gameplay mechanics I’ve a hunch that even a poorly-delivered Arkham game will still outclass many other games of its type, and still have much to offer fans of the superhero genre. I wasn’t convinced by the arguments that City had lost anything from widening the focus, it was merely trying to offer a slightly different experience than the tensely claustrophobic Asylum. Forced to choose, I’d play City over Asylum any day. I suspect I’ll enjoy Origins too, although I’ll do what I did for the first two and wait until the Game+All DLC package is released.

      • dethtoll says:

        Given that the game is a Steam release, rather than GFWL, I’m probably going to go ahead and ask it for Christmas and then just buy the DLC when it’s cheap.

  6. Fritzy says:

    I’m enjoying it because it’s more of the same Batman that I crave. However, I would enjoy it a lot more if it had been polished at all. All of the level design feels like first drafts. The level design doesn’t flow right, are too busy, or don’t make sense. The story also had an odd moment where Batman goes into a monologue about solving a mystery under the guise of telling Alfred about it, but immediately afterward he tells Alfred something related, and Alfred acts as if he hadn’t just explained it. Other bugs, like the inability to unlock one of the towers, show that this simply wasn’t play-tested in final form.

    This game could have been as great as Arkham City had they spent another 6 months polishing it, but the holiday release didn’t allow for that.

  7. virtualmatrix258 says:

    I don’t regret buying it. Great game other than the bugs. My personal favorite of the three. Hoping WB Montreal gets the greenlight to make another one. As a Batman comic book nerd, they did the characters way more justice than Rocksteady did. I’ve played it twice now, going on my 3rd playthrough in a few minutes.

  8. Ernesto25 says:

    Its ok i have just finished it but i feel there were less stealth sections in this game compared to the others. Shame they didn’t do an origins story i guess i got punished for going in completely blind rather than spoiling anything but then there isn’t much to spoil . The story is just meh as well, due to this . My favourite bug was the floor turning into water making me restart a whole section of the game because i couldn’t progress. also once the checkpoint system made me redo a boss fight further making me cry out for the days of quick save. I agree about gotham now it seems a city full of criminals.Maybe hugo strange should have just enclosed all of gotham and called it job done because i think you could take 10m people out of gotham and the rest would be thrown in jail. Its ok but there is about 2 new things in this game and i didn’t even realize its another studio i probably won’t get another one as it started to feel tired towards the end Stick to arkham city unless you really really like batman.

  9. internisus says:

    I agree that the premise was a great missed opportunity to have Batman feel hunted throughout the city, which would have completely changed the feel of the game from previous entries. They should have worked at implementing free-roaming villains who would stalk the player. This assassins setup was the best chance to do something like that, and it’s a real shame that it wasn’t attempted.

  10. Lemming says:

    It’s a good game, but it’s the worst Arkham game hands down. I’m about 15% of the way through according to my save game and I’ve been doing side-quest stuff and just finished the GCDP building on the main storyline, and so far it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

    Liked:

    *premise of an early Batman on the cusp of all the craziness that’s about to happen in the criminal world.

    * the gadgets feel more cobbled together and prototyped, rather than just another chip Batman shoves in his gauntlet.

    *The more hacky, info-pirate nature of the Riddler. It’s a more modern concept, and it fits well with the character. I wouldn’t want it to mean the removal of the riddles themselves though, but I guess he hasn’t got to that part of his character development yet.

    Perplexed by:

    *If it’s an early Batman, why the Batwing instead of the Batmobile? The exact same travel system could’ve been used without much change (eg. just have to be at ground-level, outside).

    *Some of the bigger buildings can’t be grappled up. I assume this is because they are somehow story-related, but as a game it’s bloody awful. I can grapple onto a spiked railing, but I can’t get up to a flat roof? Nope, I have to go around like a not-Batman.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      “*Some of the bigger buildings can’t be grappled up. I assume this is because they are somehow story-related, but as a game it’s bloody awful. I can grapple onto a spiked railing, but I can’t get up to a flat roof? Nope, I have to go around like a not-Batman.”

      Some of the puzzles were like that for me i was thinking why can’t i grapple there it was well within reach and no spikes. fo

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I agree that it’s inferior to the previous Arkham game, and I agree that it’s a good game in itself.

      I’m just glad to get a fun AAA title that’s actually been released now instead of Q4, 2014. And an Arkham Origins in the hand is a hell of a lot better than a promise of some game sometime maybe next year..

      If the price of a modern top-level game is $50, then Arkham Origins is a better value than most that have come out this year. At least it’s worth the money.

  11. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I haven’t yet finished the game, but I feel that while it is overall inferior (though not bad) the writing is a noticeable step up from the other Arkham games. Nowhere does Batman say, “I eat punks like this for breakfast.” There’s a stronger sense of style in the cutscenes and more effective characterization all around. For everyone who complained about Arkham City’s grim ‘n gritty aesthetic, the introduction of the Joker seems to want to provide an answer.

    Recommended if you really enjoyed the Arkham games and don’t demand a revolution in every sequel.

    • dftaylor says:

      You think the writing and characterisation in Origins is better than the other two Arkham games? We’ve gone from Paul Dini’s excellent plotting and scripting to a greatest hits-style ramble through the big beats of each character.

      The best piece of writing in the game is a monologue that’s based on something Alan Moore wrote 25 years ago, combined with a piece that Dini wrote for Arkham Asylum.

      The thing this game really doesn’t do well is characters. There’s no sense of escalating danger, no sense that Batman is stuck, fighting for his life. He simply needs to go home to the BatCave and chill out for the night. And he never does anything for any other reason than “I’m obsessed!”

      Anyway, I’m always surprised when people say City was a “bad” game or massively inferior to Asylum. It’s different and I appreciated how it expanded the series in a smart way. The story is mental but have you read a Batman comic? Asking for credible plotting in a series about a handsome, genius-level billionaire with incredible athletic and martial arts skills, as well as a habit for high-tech engineering design, who dresses up as a bat to fight crime to assuage his survivor’s guilt for the death of his parents just might be missing the point of the mad crime-fiction fantasy the character belongs to.

      But that’s just me!

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        I thought City was a big improvement over Asylum. The plot is overcomplicated and the inclusion of Ra’s al Ghul too convenient, but it wasn’t another video game super soldier plot. The dialogue was a step up, too. That “eat punks for breakfast” line is straight out of Arkham Asylum (early on) and is absolutely terrible, as are lines like, “Over? It hasn’t even begun!” Of course, City had the terrible Catwoman/Two-Face exchange in the courthouse (“I vote for a stay of execution!,” delivered in an absurdly campy way despite everything about the preceding scene being played straight, “Two-guns, bitch!,” etc.) to kick things off, so it ain’t perfect.

        Then there’s also the too-dark depiction of the Riddler. Death traps? That’s very Riddler-esque. Dead baby jokes? No, that doesn’t seem like something he’d say.

        I like that in Origins Batman gets to quip (“At least they won’t be ugly.”) and the cutscenes are generally staged more effectively; the Joker’s reveal is a great scene, with his violent rage at Black Mask for not playing along juxtaposed against the creepy laughter of the bank manager, not to mention the fact that the bank is the first place you see civilian corpses (posed and decorated, no less), creating a stark contrast to the preceding hours of the game. And the relationship between Joker and Black Mask retroactively makes his decision to occupy the steel mill in City make more sense rather than being a fairly arbitrary choice that they were able to give a nominal carnival theme.

  12. FurryLippedSquid says:

    The points where you can attach your grapple seem vastly reduced in this relative to City. They’ve gimped skyline travel, in a Batman game.

  13. wodin says:

    The series has got worse with each release..first game was amazing..second I just found chaotic and not tight enough..this one I have barely played and was bored silly.

  14. bangalores says:

    I liked the game.

    That said, can we expect a WIT for Path of Exile?

    • asret says:

      Why wait? Sign up for an account and give it a go.

      I’ve been playing it for the last few days – it’s a bit grim to begin with, but Act 2 seems to have brightened up a bit. I do like me a bit of colourful mayhem.

  15. Noviere says:

    It was my first Batman game and I was enjoying the basics of it, but the bugs really drove me away.

    I experienced bugged doors when I tried to leave Penguin’s area… After 40 minutes of humping walls, and trying crazy jumps I quit. When I came back a few hours later, low and behold the door opened. Ugh. I also had the bugged ledge in the Burnley tower, and got stuck using the hacking gadget a few times.

    I also found some of the direction I was being given by Alfred really misleading… Like him getting me to acquire stun grenades so I wouldn’t hurt cops. What was the point? They were useless, and I still had to beat the crap out of the cops in order to progress.

    In the end, I quit and decided to finally install Asylum which I had bought during a Steam sale but never played. It was wonderful.

    • Lemming says:

      I’ve got to ask how on earth is this your first Batman game? Get the previous two on your system of choice, stat – because you are missing out on some seriously good times, my friend.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I agree that the other two games are superior, but I’m well into Origins and I strongly believe that the story of Asylum and City are improved by what they’ve done here. If you can stick it through I think you’ll end up having a better experience than everyone who played the games in order of release.

  16. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Putting one or two bugs aside, I’d place this easily along side City. Some of the complaints by the gaming press I’m finding rather tenuous to say the least – City was actually a weaker game than Asylum and by no means a classic itself.

    I’d probably give both City/Origins 8/10 going on how much I’ve played so far. I’m having as much fun with it tbh.

    • Adam Smith says:

      I reckon Aslyum’s the best of the three and thought this played like a weaker version of City.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      I agree. If it’s not as good as Arkham City, it’s close. And it’s here, actually ready to play, which is more than can be said for most of the games whose trailers are described around here.

      In an era when it seems like nobody can finish an actual AAA title, at least I’ve got something worth playing.

  17. HothMonster says:

    Spoilers abound I am sure:

    It definitely isn’t a major change to the formula but I think they did a lot of little things to address complaints people had about city.

    People complained City rambling disjointed story and jumped villain to villain just to add more villains. Origins ties everyone into a single plot and keeps it streamlined and coherent. (Except mad-hatter he just pops out of nowhere). Personally I enjoyed this story a lot more than City (though city’s last 20 minutes was certainly awesome).

    Combat barks are way less frequent and less stupid. Except the last guy in a fight always says something, I just beat up 20 of your friends I highly doubt that I am in for it now.

    Way less backtracking through the same buildings.

    City-no fast travel. Origins- Fast travel!.

    On the whole Origins did more to vary the paperrockscissors combat. Martial artist, enforcers and vemon thugs all add interesting elements. More so than Cities ninja and bull-charging-moron. Though it really doesn’t shine until new game plus when it starts throwing more varied and interesting encounters at you. Encounter sizes seem larger on average. Certainly could have used more predator encounters though.

    Boss fights are great and varied. I loved the deathstroke counter-counter-counter-counter fight, croc was a nice tutorial test. Firefly was cool, though a few parts dragged imo. Bane was pretty samey though but it didn’t feel as stale as it did in City, maybe because there were not 15 mini-boss fights with the same mechanics this time. Shiva was fun, copperhead was cool. That first electrocutioner fight is spectacular but, well you know. Only boss fight I remember from City being anything special was Freeze.

    Riddler mission actually makes sense. It’s not just 300 random things he wants/forces Bats to collect. He is actually committing a crime and even connected the main plot.

    I will agree that each boss could have been fleshed out more, the game could have been longer. But I think the 10-12 hours is used well.

    The lack of civilians premise was a bit weak but for the story I think it would have been really weird to have them around. The city folk don’t trust him, you wouldn’t interact with them outside what already exists in the random crime system, it would just be masses of people that run away from you or gawk and take pictures. That is map real estate that isn’t full of guys for me to punch.

    Bugs are bugs though, it certainly could have used another QA pass. Reading some forums it seems a good deal of bugs are PC specific and not reproducing on consoles, which probably means PC specific QA was pretty non-existent (there is one bug that completes breaks your ability to finish the riddler side quest and has effected every PC player I know, the vent on the burnley comm tower, consoles do not have that problem).

    Multiplayer is interesting but going to need some work to have any long term viability.

    ….and thanks for reading the first chapter of my new book “Long Disjointed Thoughts on Games I Like”

  18. revan says:

    I’ve bought it, started playing it, enjoyed it, even if it is clearly inferior to the previous titles, but then bugs started popping out and I placed the game on hold until they patch the thing back to playability.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Phinor says:

    At first I thought the slightly less positive reviews were crazy talk but having played the game some 5 hours now, I think there are small but crucial problems in the game that weren’t (as) present previously. A lot of ledges you can’t get onto although they are literally identical to other ledges you can get onto, multiple bugs both small and big (although I was literally stuck in Arkham City for few months waiting for them to patch that game so it’s not like the Rocksteady games were bug-free either) and so on. One of the biggest disappointments is how linear most of the levels are. If Arkham Asylum was this linear (and certainly it had plenty of linear sections but not to this extent), it wouldn’t have been the hit it was.

    Slight disappointment, but still a good game. Oh and I was quite looking forward to the multiplayer but having played it, I think it sounds better on paper.

  20. Nimdok says:

    So far I’m doing something with the bank? Maybe? I don’t remember. What I do remember is that Riddler’s (Sorry, “Enigma”) doing Batman a favor and he seems angry about it, that the inclusion of The Joker seems like a cop-out, and that the storyline, in general, is pretty damn blah. The boss fights are just as repetitive as the regular fights. The achievement system of getting upgrades reeks of gamey-ness, especially since things you’ve already done don’t ‘count’ until you’re at the point on the list where you’re told to do them. At least in City you could do things in whatever order you wanted for extra stuff.

    I enjoyed Asylum AND City equally, in terms of storytelling and gameplay, and felt that City was a welcome upgrade to Asylum. This is… well, it’s not.

    I kinda disagree with any prequel that introduces things that didn’t exist in the later iterations, or the idea that you obtain tools that Batman obtains again in the later games, wherein he behaves like they’re brand-new tools and not ones he used years ago. In the same vein, in City isn’t it the first time the Mad Hatter’s been a villain in this fiction?

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      That’s not the impression I got. The only “new” villain that Batman faced in Arkham City seemed to be Hugo Strange. I got the impression that this is only true because Asylum was a success. The character profiles and designs often directly contradict those from Asylum, which suggests they didn’t think the continuity through until they were sure they needed to.

      • Syphus says:

        Didn’t Deadshot also exist in Arkham City?

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          Yes, but it’s established (possibly in the character profile) that Batman is the only person to make him miss a shot, so he’s not “new” in the sense that Batman never encountered him before.

  21. Syphus says:

    Lets all be honest, if you lived in Gotham City…would you actually go outside your apartment?

  22. Phantom_Renegade says:

    I played it since release, and about an hour in something already annoyed the crap out of me. So, facing a riddler challenge, the solution was, at least for an AC vet, really easy. Pilot the rc batarang through electricity and then into a fuse box. Simple. Until I tried it, three times after another, and it didn’t work.

    So I took a couple of steps back, try to survey the environment and see what I’d missed. Suddenly, a cutscene triggers, telling me exactly what to do. Which is what I’d been doing, pilot the rc batarang through electricity and then into the fuse box. When I tried it after the cutscene, suddenly it works. I understand explaining it for new players, but actually blocking the solution until I’ve stood in the arbitrary place to trigger the cutscene? That’s crap.

    As for the rest, it’s really, really dark. As in, I can hardly see most of the time. When you turn brightness up so you can see what you’re doing the reason for the darkness is immediately apparent. Now it’s not an ugly game, but there is no improvement graphics wise over arkham city. I’d even call it a slight step backwards, and this is with everything on the highest setting.

    Combat system continues to be serviceable, but the highlight for me has always been stealthily taking down thugs and watching them panic. And while that is definitely in here, the predator maps feel lacking compared to previous editions. Grappling from vantage point to vantage point is still fun, but it’s fun because it was good in AC and AA, there’s nothing new here, and what is here is lazy.

    I still dislike the way the combo meter runs out if there’s more then a microsecond between hits, not just when you get hit, making it, at least initially, a bit too hard to get to those special moves. And when you do get there, and you try to enter the necessary button combo’s, the meter has started over already. This is probably just me being bad at this, but when every other thing has a big shiny press this button now going on, this sticks out.

    A lot of the environments from AC return, which is logical, since it’s Gotham, but I’m seeing almost no change from their appearance there, where you’d expect some, what with it being christmas and quite a lot of time before AC. Considering the lack of graphical improvement, they feel ripped straight from AC.

    And don’t even get me started on the bugs. I get stuck on things, the Burnley tower thing where it doesn’t work, it stalled during fasttravel requiring a ctrl-alt-del style shutdown of the game. The list goes on. Perhaps had they released at christmas, they’d have had time for some QA.

    So to sum up, this game is sloppy and lazy. It didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, but it might at least done more then just trot the thing out again with some glitters on.

    It goes from pretty fun, to meh, to ‘aaargh frustrating break things!’ Which is quite impressive in and out of itself. Whenever the frustration doesn’t come from the game being outright broken, it comes from the terrible bossfights. Unblockable strikes (Deathstroke I’m looking at you) is not a valid way of making things challenging, it is a douchey way. And the Bane encounter is equally frustrating where even though you press all the right buttons for dodge, he spams so many underlings they can just easily crowd you and set you up for his bullrush. Or bullshitrush as I’ve taken to calling it.

    And in spite of this I’m still enjoying myself! It does make it a lot easier to put down then City was, when all of this open environment stuff was fresh. If you really enjoyed AC, I’d still recommend it, just don’t expect to be wowed

    • HothMonster says:

      To reply to a small part of that, you can counter everything in the deathstroke fight. You can hit counter too early on his counter-attacks and your counter will fail. Took me a minute to figure out but it changed that fight from frustrating to awesome for me.

      • Phantom_Renegade says:

        I realized that there is a timing to counters, but even so, some attacks seem to happen regardless, several online videoguides have the same claim. This seems to happen during the sword segment, which is why I had full health up until that part, but finished next to dead.

        Might still be me though, but for me there were attacks without button prompts or those blue lightning symbols above his head. I’m not talking about the cinematic like attacks where the button prompt is about two seconds in, but one in which it never appears.

        On the other hand, given the way the rest of the game was handled, it might have been a bug.

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          The Deathstroke fight is almost certainly the lowest point of the game. It’s just awful. The other boss fights are not nearly as bad, in fact I really enjoyed the copperhead one.

        • HothMonster says:

          I don’t remember if they had counter icons in the normal playthrough, but I took a stab at the achievement on my newgame+ playthrough (no counter icons) and almost made it through that fight without getting hit. His attacks after the sword come out are still counter able, it’s just later than the earlier sets.

          I do think they did a real bad job of setting that up since it’s the only time in the game that you have to hit counter in the specific point of a long attack sequence. Which is a shame since I had so much fun doing that fight and the general consensus seems to be it is the worst.

    • Nate says:

      Thanks for commenting re: the puzzle thing. That kind of crap (along with the aforementioned “you can grapple any balcony unless it’s an important balcony”) immediately turns me off of games. I can deal with it, but I deal with it while cursing and gritting my teeth.

      And it is way too common. Game designers:: you think you can get away with things like this, but we do notice.

  23. womp says:

    Bats is a real fascist’s fascist in this one. And the Riddler is the good guy!

  24. Screamer says:

    I got it for cheaper on one of those shady cdkey sites because I feared it might not be what I expected. In honesty I would have been glad if I paid full price for it. So far its great, and dem DX11 graphics are awesome! Id say its a way better game than AssCreed III for instance that did not receive nowhere near as much flack for being the same game than its predecessors.

  25. theblazeuk says:

    What a bunch of jokers, you’d be bats to play this game on this dark knight or any other.

  26. Shooop says:

    This is exactly what I thought it’d be.

    Arkham Asylum was a reinvention of Batman which is why we loved it. Arkham City just changed the setting and kept moving fast enough to prevent us from seeing the cracks right away so we loved it. Now the franchise is already going stale again because everyone just wants to copy/paste the previous game.

    This has nothing to do with Rocksteady not being involved. It has everything to do with the novelty wearing off. Someone needs to reinvent the Bat again.

  27. Nate says:

    About halfway through this article, apropos of nothing, I said to myself, “This is written really, really well.”

    I never played Asylum, but I played City– I understand they’re largely the same game.

    Anyhow. City was a weird kind of game, something like the greatest game that quicktime event technology could create. Even the main combat– press RMB to counter– was nearly a series of quicktime events, echoed in actual quicktime events!

    Beyond that, City was a strange sort of game in that it worked, not when it was challenging, but when it wasn’t. It was immensely satisfying to effortlessly take down a huge group of thugs. It completed the fantasy of actually being Batman– you didn’t need to bulletproof to be a superhero! When there was any kind of challenge, the game was just tedious, and reminded the player of how simple and reaction-time-driven the core gameplay was.

    What’s amazing is that despite these two things, which sound like criticisms, and are forbidden by the Game Designer’s Handbook, Rocksteady made Batman work. A quicktime game, largely without challenge, that was actually enjoyable!

    It’s also clear that it’s a formula that’s walking a little close to the abyss. It sounds that it was already a little old by the time City came out, in fact, and it’s certainly old now. Even in Rocksteady’s proven hands, it’s going to be old.

  28. Fataleer says:

    looked forward to B Origins. Visuality looked very solid, setting sounded awesome (early Batman and night where he is hunted instead of being ordnary predator) and all in all I though it would have been an extra awesome game. When I heard it is not developedy by original dev I wasn’t happy – I really enjoyed the style of the whole package. But I thought that why not — perspective changes…

    Only review I read before spending 8 hours with it, was Kotaku’s verdict box, where it said — Yes, you should play it. I took it as affirmation, that catastrophe averted. I was right.

    The problem with Origins is not that it is failure and does not work at all, it is in fact that as a whole it is not as convicing. The mechanics are solid, if same as in previous games, graphics is very okay textures are in nice resolution, if same in style), the story is not focused. It does not spoil evening meals, yes, but it is not main course. It is hard to put in words the thing that it lacks, but the focus sounds most correct.

    Specific points:
    Map design lacks polish. It is not just llogical puzzles as article mentions, it is the thing that a lot of times grappling hook just does not work as it looks it should. It basically looks a lot like City, which is crazy because this should be working city.
    Story lack proper pacing and is not innovative as it should have been.
    Characters are … how to put it… not well written to suit the city.

    It just lacks personality. It lacks the notion authors should have had in begining. It lack the emotinal state authors should want to transmit to us, consumers.

    It stiil is great game. I just do not need or want to finish. Unlike previous Batman games.

  29. Talon2000uk says:

    Well my best friend’s, aunt’s, mother in law’s, first cousin, twice removed on her farthers side, earns $100 an hour as a stripper in Vegas. But I don’t want to do that job either. So there! :D