Batman: Arkham Origins Review

It all started with Batman: Arkham Asylum, the most celebrated Batman game of all time and winner of "Game of the Year". This dark and gritty addition to the Batman mythos had you, as Batman, making your way through the fabled Arkham Asylum which had been taken over by the Joker. Two years later, Rocksteady Studios gave us an infinitely superior sequel: Batman: Arkham City. It was also a big hit and winner of "Game of the Year". After the bitter-sweet ending of that game, we were waiting in agony for another Arkham game for another two years until Warner Bros. Games Montreal, not Rocksteady, gave us a surprisingly satisfying prequel: Batman: Arkham Origins.

The plot of the game takes place 2 years after Bruce Wayne (not Kevin Conroy) has begun his crusade as Batman, hardly anything more than an urban myth among Gotham. Now, the Black Mask is stirring up trouble in Gotham and Batman begins to hear whispers of a criminal mastermind named the Joker (not Mark Hamill). With 8 hired assassins after his head (including fan-favorite Deathstroke), Batman only has one night to defeat the assassins, stop Black Mask, find the Joker and save Gotham.

The only reason the title has the word "Arkham" in it is so you can know what video game series this is part of. The game itself takes place in a HUGE area of Gotham City, the part that, in the future of this mythos, will be sectioned off to become Arkham City. We also finally get a glimpse of the infamous Blackgate Prison.

Even though the game was made by a different developer, the gameplay is the exact same as you had in the previous two games. The combat feels the same and the quick-fire gadgets are all as you remember. And, surprisingly, the CGI was much better in this game than it was in the previous installments. The whole thing feels crisp, bright, and new. It's like giving away an old, beat-up, sentimental car and trading it in for a new, shiny car of the same model.

Though the story was very creative and showed the origins of some of our favorite Batman villains (the Penguin, the Joker and even Riddler) the game itself had very little originality. You had almost no new gadgets and while you're kind of relieved that they didn't throw anything new at you, you find yourself slightly disappointed that you didn't get some new, cool toys to play with. There are also some annoying elements to the game, like the Enigma Data packs and this really annoyingly long bridge you have to glide over until you unlock fast travel points.

Now, in this one, like I said, there's no Kevin Conroy as Batman and no Mark Hamill as the Joker. Though you're sad to see them both leave, you have to give the new guys who fill in their shoes props; the original voice of Sonic the Hedgehog himself, Roger Craig Smith, and the voice of Booker DeWitt in Bioshock Infinite, Troy Baker, provide the voices of young Batman and young Joker, respectively.

Summary: This game's plot is great, the voice work is awesome, and it has enough story and side missions to keep you entertained for weeks on end. But where the game really excels is in the visuals. Origins made everything very high tech, smooth and pleasing to look at. Though not a good as its predecessors, this is definitely worth buying and is a great addition to the Batman: Arkham mythos. I can't wait for the next one and am excited to see what they'll do with it.

Score: 9/10

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