Batman: Arkham City is arguably the greatest super-hero game ever made, and is now the benchmark for all others in the genre to follow it. 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man showed a valiant effort by replicating elements of Rocksteady’s achievement, but could not land even remotely close to the pedestal that City towers over boldly with pride, though despite its success I could not shake a lingering fear that I have felt since the viewing of its end credits, and Arkham Origins quickly brought that fear to a reality: the stagnation of a truly wonderful series.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking; “It’s a sequel (prequel)! Surely you can’t expect the game to be ground-breaking.” And surely you would be right with that statement in most cases, but what Origins fails to accomplish is the growth of the franchise; progressing through each mission, collecting extortion data, and swooping in to beat up a group of bad guys while soaring the skies of Gotham feels and looks exactly the same as City. Gadgets found in the previous adventure return with a slightly a different aesthetic, like the Glue Grenade, which has the exact same functions as the Ice Grenade. Meaning that you’ll once again throw pellets at the water to make rafts and pull yourself across flooded hallways with your grapple hook. Predator missions, while still capturing the same essence of gratification through great stealth mechanics, manage to become a chore rather than a challenging obstacle once you obtain most upgrades. The few new toys that Batman carries in his arsenal this time around only serve to make overall progress even easier than before; now you can whimsically point and shoot at a dude and have him hanging from a gargoyle that’s across the room. In combat you have the Shock Gloves, which turn you into a bloodthirsty monster truck and everyone in a square-mile radius into a crowd of Justin Bieber fans; satisfying in the most cave man of senses, but takes away all the tactical aspects the game tries so hard to build up. In the end, you lose a bit of self-respect because you know you’re better than that.
So, Origins treks similar paths as City in the gameplay department. At least it was kind enough to switch it up by having a brand new group of villains pose as a threat to a younger, more aggressive Bruce Wayne. Right?
Spoiler warning; The Joker makes yet another appearance. Which rings a bit insincere; I know that this is a prequel but, another spoiler warning; Joker died in City. This was a grand opportunity to have Batman focus on at least one of DC Universe’s other colorfully dressed psychopaths. Yes there are other villains such as Deathstroke and Bane, but Batman shrugs Slade Wilson off in one fight and finds him imprisoned not much later. Bane on the other hand, while threatening, doesn’t particularly fulfill the role of a cunning, cold, harsh villain despite that he could. Though I’d suppose it’d go against Arkham tradition to have an installment that doesn’t have you fighting a steroid-induced brute.
So, WB Games has even managed establish an air of monotony in the string of events that tie all of the game play together. All things considered, there isn’t much to say about Origins; if you enjoyed City there is chance you’ll find enjoyment here, but don’t expect anything memorable.