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Review

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

  • First Released Oct 25, 2013
    released
  • Reviewed Oct 25, 2013
  • X360
  • PS3

Holy predictability, Batman!

Batman has a long history of escaping from some of the deadliest, most elaborate traps a brilliant criminal mind can devise. In his bat-utility belt is a gadget to get him out of nearly any predicament. But in Batman: Arkham Origins, there's one trap Batman can't escape from: the trap of expectations. By now, there are two things that define action in the Arkham series: rhythmic, free-flow combat and stealthy predator rooms. Arkham Origins has those elements in spades. But it doles them out in a straightforward, predictable fashion that lacks the inspiration of the earlier Arkham games.

The most noteworthy difference between Arkham Origins and its predecessors is a significantly larger open world. But that larger world has little meaning when the things you're doing in it are the same things the smaller world of the previous game accommodated perfectly well. Grappling up to rooftops and gliding through the air still feel great, but they don't feel any better here just because you have more rooftops to leap from. And there are side quests that have you doing things like racing to and fro to disarm bombs set by Anarky, which is much like racing to answer Zsasz's ringing phones in Arkham City.

Are you a bat enough dude to counter all of Deathstroke's attacks?
Are you a bat enough dude to counter all of Deathstroke's attacks?

The city is bigger just for the sake of being bigger, and while these side quests make interesting use of characters--Anarky's willingness to go to any length to liberate the downtrodden from the oppression of the rich and powerful makes him a fascinating figure, for instance, and the game gives him his due--the things you're doing are exactly the same as the things the previous game had you doing in its open world. Even the crimes in progress, events you can choose to respond to or ignore that come up on the police radio, aren't a chance to protect hapless citizens of Gotham from criminal elements, but just to fight more groups of thugs, something you do plenty of anyway.

Free-flow combat is unchanged from earlier Arkham games, aside from the fact that there are a few new enemy types in the mix, most notably a martial artist who has an attack you need to counter twice rather than once. The animations are still excellent, and getting into a rhythm where you're dishing out punishment while perfectly countering every enemy attack still feels good, but it also feels exactly the same as ever. At a certain point in the game, you acquire shock gloves that make your punches more powerful, but this doesn't prevent punching dudes in the face from feeling routine.

Predator rooms are also what you'd expect them to be, no less and no more. Of course it's still satisfying to sneak up on a goon and take him down silently, or to be perched on a gargoyle, waiting for a clueless criminal to walk right under you so you can do an inverted takedown. But it's also starting to feel rote. By this point, the mechanics governing these systems have become apparent, the process of sneaking up on enemies or of countering attacks overly familiar. You and Batman and the game he's in are all just going through the motions.

Batman's true passion isn't doling out justice. It's ogling gadgets.
Batman's true passion isn't doling out justice. It's ogling gadgets.

Arkham City built on Arkham Asylum by putting the mechanics in an exciting new context. Arkham Origins lifts them from City and puts them in the same context again, complete with all the same sorts of environmental problem-solving. You still toss grenades into water to form makeshift rafts (glue grenades here, not ice grenades!) and use the batclaw to pull yourself around. You still power up fuse boxes by guiding remote-controlled batarangs through fields of electricity. The occasional encounter with something fresh and exciting could have gone a long way toward making Origins' reliance on these familiar mechanics welcoming. But because nearly everything you do is a straight, wholly unsurprising replication of something you do in the earlier Arkham games, welcome familiarity gives way to an inescapable feeling of predictability.

There is one new mechanic in Origins: a significantly overhauled case file system. As someone who has always been fascinated by the detective facet of Batman's character, I had high hopes that this would make investigating crime scenes an involving process that would test my intellect. Unfortunately, it doesn't. You scan evidence to reconstruct the events of a crime and have to scrub back and forth through the reconstruction to track down more evidence to scan. There's some CSI: Gotham City entertainment value in watching the pieces of the reconstructed crime come together, but your role in the process is minimal.

In the absence of new elements, the tried-and-true free-flow combat and predator mechanics feel routine rather than inspired.

The one area in which Batman: Arkham Origins delivers occasional flashes of inspiration is in its story, which establishes where Batman's adversarial relationships with the criminals who loom large in the Arkham games began, and how he forged an uneasy alliance with James Gordon, a good cop in a police force plagued by corruption. It dabbles in questions about whether Batman's presence only ends up fueling the fires of criminal activity in Gotham, and in its best and most genuinely surprising moments, explores how Batman and the Joker are two sides of the same coin. As Batman, new voice actor Roger Craig Smith is a bit flat, but as the Joker, Troy Baker fills Mark Hamill's clown shoes admirably.

Batman's eventful Christmas Eve begins, however, with a less outlandish criminal. The organized crime lord Black Mask, tired of the pressure Batman has been putting on his operations for the past few years, puts a bounty on Batman's head, calling eight world-class assassins to Gotham, including the muscle-bound Bane, the poisonous Copperhead, and the efficient Deathstroke. Boss fights with these and other characters have an elevated sense of drama because of the personalities involved, but mechanically, they aren't much different from fights with other enemies. Defeating Deathstroke requires good countering. Against Bane, you use stuns and beatdowns. And so on.

The world of Arkham Origins is bigger, but in this case, that doesn't translate to better.
The world of Arkham Origins is bigger, but in this case, that doesn't translate to better.

Batman: Arkham Origins also includes a competitive multiplayer mode in which eight players are split into three teams: Bane's thugs, Joker's henchmen, and the dynamic duo. The Bane and Joker teams aim to eliminate each other, while Batman and Robin strive to take out enough criminals from either side to disrupt their operations. This unusual structure has potential; as a criminal, the need to be vigilant against heroes swooping out of the shadows while also trying to pick off opposing criminals should keep you on edge. But in practice, it all feels sloppy. Weapon accuracy is all over the place, and being able to sprint only a very short distance makes criminals feel weak and inept. Meanwhile, as the heroes, combat lacks the rhythm and impact that makes it empowering in single-player, and you go down so quickly to enemy attacks that you feel more like a Gotham City impostor than a real hero.

Batman: Arkham Origins is a deeply predictable game. It gives you exactly what you'd expect in another Arkham game, without doing anything to push the series forward. In the absence of new elements, the tried-and-true free-flow combat and predator mechanics feel routine rather than inspired. Origins is worth experiencing for the way it sets the stage for the events of the other Arkham games, but it also resides squarely in their shadows.

Back To Top
The Good
Movement, free-flow combat, and stealth mechanics are as solid as ever
Story has some great moments and makes good use of characters
The Bad
No surprises or innovations to liven up the gameplay
Characters in multiplayer feel frustratingly weak
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Batman: Arkham Origins

About the Author

Carolyn's favorite Batman book is Year One. Her favorite Batman actor is Michael Keaton. Her favorite Batman games are Batman: Arkham City and Batman for the NES.
3791 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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naryanrobinson

To be clear, this is a good game, but it is shockingly similar to Arkham City, and the majority of changes are for the worse.

About 30 minutes in, I was flying around the city and I had a brain freeze moment when I just thought, “Actually I don't really feel like starting a NewGame+” then a few seconds later, “Oh yeah, this is a different game.”

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I will say here that Carolyn Petit was not the right person to assess the multiplayer portion of the game. I recall that she was, at best, ambivalent towards the multiplayer components of games.

However, I have to say here that I don't really like how the balancing was done for multiplayer. For one, I have noticed that each player character has inherent weaknesses and strengths, but they are just too far away from each other to be complementary.

For example, a player might find that Robin and Batman are just too weak to survive a few moments of coming under fire. Although one could argue that the player should not be getting shot in the first place, this is easier done in the single-player than in multiplayer. Doing so requires that the player knows the whereabouts of enemies, yet the Batvision does not provide a full 360-degree feedback of enemies' locations. Also, I am seeing the heroes getting killed by other enemies while trying to beat-down an enemy; this would have been easier to avoid if there were indicators for when the player character is seen by other enemies and that there are ways to cancel animations so as to pull off a quick escape, but neither is there.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I am looking at the multiplayer stuff now. It seemed interesting to me that there would be a three-way battle in multiplayer matches, but any interest I had plummeted when I saw the crates and unlocks at the match-end screens.

I find progression systems to be quite disgusting, especially those which use packs with random contents.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

As someone who likes the personalities of the mooks and goons in the Arkham series, I really want to like the post-game content that is the hunt for the Blackgate prisoners.

For example, I like how they talk about what they want to do after having escaped, such as this guy here talking about money laundering. It makes them more entertaining than the mooks and goons in so many other video games.

Yet, when inconsistencies in their personalities crop up, it dashes any sense of immersion to be had from this content. Returning to the example which has just been mentioned, that prisoner talks about the relatively sophisticated crime of money laundering, and then sings a bad jingle when Batman is about to knock him out, to which Batman later implies he's mentally disturbed.

I know that this is due to the automatic-scripting of the remarks that criminals would say not matching what is pre-scripted, but the developers having overlooked this suggests bad content quality control.

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Gelugon_baat

If there is anything Arkham Origins added to the series, it is the more visually complex detective scenes. They look hella noisy and messy though.

Unfortunately, it's hard to appreciate the newer stuff when there are glitches, such as missing models for the player character and an enemy's model sliding up a wall and getting stuck due to a clipping bug.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I get the impression that Batman's animations in combat have been recycled, made slightly simpler and then accelerated in order to make him look more brutish.

Also, the fight with Deathstroke was just too long. The first bout is alright, but once Deathstroke began to recycle moves - something that is terribly uncharacteristic of him - my regard for the fight plummeted.

Furthermore, the GCPD officers, especially their SWAT units, fight exactly like the thugs do. "Special Weapons And Tactics" indeed - and yet they are wielding baseball bats, or holding ballistic shields without a complementary sidearm.

Another thing that I don't like is the introduction of more generic enemies, such as the Enforcers and Martial Artists. I understand that the developers are trying to make the combat more diverse than in Arkham City, but these dudes fight like dudes of the same enemy archetypes in so many other games that have them. They don't make Arkham Origins refreshingly different from those other games.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

I really, really do not like the prologue. Getting a crapload of exposition about brutal and merciless assassins and supervillains and hearing Batman's tough-ass remarks about them is so, so different from the far more palatable intros of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, which at least had less loaded pacing for their prologues.

Furthermore, the writers do not seem to go over the lines which they have written in order to edit out dubious stuff. For example, in this scene, some goons mention that the GCPD cops are on their payroll, which would have been enough to set up the oddity of having the goons trying to bomb the police station. Yet, Batman repeats the same line.

Maybe it's so that the game can drum that oddity into the player's head just in case that he/she did not hear the goons clearly, but this will seem like unnecessary repetition for anyone that turned on subtitles.

Also, there is also a scene where Batman hallucinates in this entry of the Arkham series. It's like a running gag now.

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alizajackson

I love it. People wants to get batman Arkham origins costume jacket so visit. Celebs Leather Jackets Dot Com

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advocacy

Years later, you realize that Batman: Arkham Origins really is the black sheep of the family.

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Cryio

@advocacy Never questioned that. Arkham Origins is a VERY GOOD game. The problem is that it wasn't gropundbreaking like Asylum, City or Knight were. It didn't help either that a lot of the game is a rehash of City. So basically ... a still great game, but not on the same heights as the other 3.

Avatar image for jks83
JKS83

I love this game. It was pretty fun.

The story was pretty cool.

The boss battles were challenging.

Though I found that fighting the minions was harder than the boss battles.

But over all I'd give it a 8.

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Atzenkiller

Carolyn talks a lot about escaping traps. Should I be worried about this game?

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plost333

I got it for free with a PS3 I bought. Loved the first two, this one is okay but more of the same. The fighting is fun and the story is cool so far but it just feels like you are playing DLC from City. Review is spot on but def worth playing if you liked the other two and get it cheap or for free.

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djpetitte

just picked this game up for 5 dollars on HB and im loving the hell out of it. Great to play right before the holidays also.

well worth the 5 dollars I would have been happy paying 20

Avatar image for feared4power
feared4power

@watchdogsrules It's the internet you can't believe everything you see

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules but its gamespot and its a little bio about the author.

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feared4power

@watchdogsrules It was edited by some unknown hacker 10 years ago and they still haven't noticed

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules but still....

Avatar image for feared4power
feared4power

@watchdogsrules Have you watched Knights of Sidonia?

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power no

Avatar image for feared4power
feared4power

@watchdogsrules go watch it or not. Nothing matters in life it will all be gone sooner or later.

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules show hasn't even been released yet

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feared4power

@watchdogsrules it's on netflix right now i finished it today.

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules is it good?

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feared4power

@watchdogsrules It's like attack on titan in space, but AoT is like KoS on earth because KoS came out first. It's ok. I don't care to much for that type of animation for characters, it makes them all look weird, but the mechs and fight scenes look good.

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules i dont have netflix

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules what?

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feared4power

@watchdogsrules I was born at a very young age and grew up as i got older.

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @watchdogsrules lol

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watchdogsrules

multiplayer in this game looks good

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watchdogsrules

the weird thing is, is that once the game came out it was only popular for a week, and then after that i didn't see any ads or heard about the game any more,just like metal gear solid 5: ground zeros, except the game actually had ads, was in-stock in stores, and wasn't an indie game.

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Jedilink109

You know, she complained that the game has no real new elements. Well I just finished Arkham City a couple weeks ago...so more of the same is NOT A PROBLEM with me. Besides i got this game and the season pass for 20 bucks on Steam in their sale a week ago. I just wanna play more Batman, and this game is exactly that. So I'm very happy with it.

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Jedilink109

@feared4power @alleonline She.


Don't be a jackass.

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feared4power

@Jedilink109 no operation can change your gender

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power @Jedilink109 is she a she or he?

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feared4power

@watchdogsrules it's a he thinking it's a she, but in reality it's a he.

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watchdogsrules

@feared4power how do you explain the name Carolyn and read the "about the author" part just below the review.

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magusat999

I'm about halfway through (I think - I haven't cheated and looked at any game guides yet...) and after playing through the excellent Arkham City 3 times this game is a letdown. I'm starting to wonder why I should go on. The gui is ugly - but that isn't the real issue. My problem is how un-intuitive it is compared to AC. The fighting is tedious, the upgrade system is dumb, the story is stupid and predictable.


The controls are awful, the map is poorly designed - I mean come - what's with the humongous building at the north of the bridge that you CANNOT GRAPPLE THE TOP OF??? Its very awkward and irritating to have to go around the behemoth when you need to get to the other side of it (you don't have fast travel initially, btw). Rocksteady had a much better layout, and the only thing you couldn't grapnel were things that didn't make sense or areas not conducive to the flow or the story. WB screwed up in this aspect its not fun trying to find a grapnel spot - especially WHEN YOU NEED ONE. And unlike Arkham City, you cant get ABOVE the city - best you can do is get slightly above some of the buildings. You are going to keep landing and slamming into buildings / structures as you try to traverse the map, which id irritating and NOT FUN.


I already had (minor) issues with AC about the grapnelling - I would like to be able to run and grapnel without looking up (running and pushing up is kind of difficult) it was a minor irritation in AC but a glaring deficiency in this game. Add to that the snipers that are EVERYWHERE after a certain point and this game becomes FRUSTRATING instead of fun. This game is worse than that - there is hardly anywhere TO grapnel, even when you point the controller in an upward direction.


Maybe I need more upgrades or something, but it seems that it takes considerably longer to fight even common thugs. I have died so many times my character should be called "Deadman". The cheap shots make one dread fights. The enemies that pulls a gun and stands back popping you as you try desperately to get to him with your directionless flipping mechanic; the one tha t hits you in the back in the middle of you attack / blocking - way too often; the unpredictable movement direction as you try to position yourself in combat... badly designed and poorly implemented.


I could go on for days about how badly this game is designed, but suffice it to say that it SUCKS, its a disappointment and a slap in the face of the entire series... and where the heck is Catwoman (give us some variety here)?? Wait - one more thing has to be said - Batman was never mean and rude to Alfred. This Batman is disrespectful and nasty to Alfred - who wrote him like that? He - like the game is out of character and highly unlikable.

Avatar image for ps3gamer1234
ps3gamer1234

@Kunasha @Ripper_TV You mean he.

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squantobecky

If I have all 3 BM games should I play this 1 first?

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magusat999

@squantobecky NO - not unless you want to be turned off and mis out on the other games which were way better than this! Start with Arkham Asylum then do Arkham City - and then you at least had some fun before diving into this pot of pus.

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alleonline

I'm glad she is not a Court Judge......................

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Sniggih

I agree that its very similar to Arkham City but I still enjoyed it.

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heatherlewis

This is a great game - If you liked Arkham City, you'll enjoy this too. If Origins had come before City, Origins likely would've gotten the stellar 9+ scores, and City would've been trashed even more than this.


There's more to do in Origins, but you just have to figure out whether sameness (~50%) is a drawback.

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crazyj_007123

this was the first arkham game i didn't finish. it would have been a great game if i had not played the first two. so it was ok but did not live up to what i expected

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Oloryn

Actually a fair review, though having just finished the game (the new Arkham Knight trailer inspired me!), I might skew the score up to at least a 7, if only because the game was so underhyped for me by now. Great story and use of characters, great Batman inspired Christmas soundtrack, fun (though predictable) combat, and an overall enjoyable Batman experience marred by a handful of bugs, glitches, and cheap boss tricks that sometimes made me shake my head.

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neverhesitate1

This game was garbage. I figured I was about halfway through when the credits started rolling, and didn`t even realize the last fight in the game was the final battle. I was truly stunned when I saw the credits start. I thought it was a joke

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Toysoldier34

So it seems like it is just on par with the past games then and was dinged for having nothing new?

Batman: Arkham Origins More Info

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  • First Released Oct 25, 2013
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 2 more
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    Batman: Arkham Origins is the latest entry in the Batman Arkham series that will see a younger Caped Crusader facing many noted villains for the first time, including Deathstroke.
    7.8
    Average Rating1566 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Batman: Arkham Origins
    Developed by:
    Iron Galaxy Studios, WB Games Montreal, Human Head Studios
    Published by:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Action
    Theme(s):
    Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence