‘Twas The Night Before Christmas: A Batman Review

ImageFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been Batman. I stood on coffee tables in a pose with Michael Keaton’s Caped Crusader, stood in line for midnight releases of Christian Bale’s Dark Knight and owned more Batman toys than I knew what to do with. I would even go so far as to admit that he’s my hero in life. So, when I get a good chance to be the World’s Greatest Detective in a game, I take it. This is what I was able to do with Batman: Arkham Asylum and City, and I can say that Arkham Origins¬†does not disappoint. Though there is not anything revolutionary about the game, the gameplay brings me right back to that familiar feeling of being awesome, and the story is a treat for those looking for an introspective look into Batman’s early years.

Don’t let the title of the game fool you; Arkham Origins is about a lot more than just Batman making his name in Gotham City. There is so much more to the plot. To give a very brief synopsis, while others are sleeping and making gifts for their children on Christmas Eve, Batman is forced to deal with prison riots and a price on his head all night. Throughout the evening, Batman is forced to deal with his own understanding of evil and violence. WB Montreal, the creators of the game, find interesting ways of driving the story along. Though the project was passed on from Rocksteady, WB Montreal did not drop the ball. Development companies were not the only thing that changed; both Batman and The Joker have been replaced from their usual voice actors. However, both Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker make excellent replacements for their respective characters. Overall, the game does not suffer in terms of its story elements.

ImageAs for the gameplay, not much has changed in the combat or exploratory schemes. Players can still trade punches with the skill of the Dark Knight. Some additions include more skilled enemies and boss battles that you will remember after the credits roll. Also, a new element of the detective mode has been created in which players can review evidence and reconstruct crime scenes in order to solve murders and progress in the story. Batman doesn’t really get much in the way of new gadgets; the tools he does get to use are mostly reimagined concepts of previous game items. But, that doesn’t mean that they still don’t serve their purpose. The developers find new ways to incorporate these uses into a new game. Critics have faulted the game for any lack of creativity and new concepts, but I personally think sometimes change isn’t always good. One doesn’t always need to innovate in order to succeed.

This leads me into the brand new multiplayer mode. The idea of it sounds pretty cool: three players on the Joker’s team, three on ImageBane’s team, and two playing as Batman and Robin. All 8 of these players compete in deathmatch-style combat. Now, I said that the idea “sounds” cool, because I haven’t been able to play it at all. Maybe there is an issue with the servers, or maybe there aren’t enough people playing the game. Unfortunately, I have not been able to start a single match. I will definitely keep trying, but I’m being a bit of a realist concerning the idea of being able to have a successful multiplayer campaign.

Finally, one can discuss the decision of getting the season pass for the DLC content. Personally, I’m not big on buying season passes, just for the reason of not wanting to spend a certain amount of money all at once. I’d rather spread the cost over time, even if that means paying a little more. Arkham Origins is no different. A little research showed that the majority of the DLC coming are packs of skins or costumes that can be used in the campaign or challenges. Yes, those costumes will probably be pretty cool to look at; I really enjoyed many of the ones offered in Arkham City. But, buying before trying when it comes to new skins isn’t really something I’m prepared to do. I suppose it’s dependent on the perceived value for each player.

Batman: Arkham Origins is a great title for both fans of the series and newcomers to the Arkham line of games. The fighting mechanics and exploratory playing are familiar and fun to master. This game’s story will show any player a deeper side to Batman’s mind and the reason why he fights. Finally, with solid graphics and a strikingly haunting soundtrack, the immersion will keep players going for hours. I’d recommend this title for anyone looking for a good Christmas gift or holiday game to experience.

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