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Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Rocksteady’s sequel to their 2009 surprise hit, Batman: Arkham Asylum exceeded expectations and was exactly what a sequel ought to be. Arkham City was bigger, better and still retains the essence of what made the first game so enjoyable. The Wii U version of Arkham City was handled by WB Montreal. It added some great gamepad integration but also had some notable performance issues. However, it satisfied the demand enough that while Rocksteady is busy on their rumoured Silver-Age Batman game, WB Montreal has released Batman Arkham Origins – a prequel to the trilogy, and tries to follow up with Rocksteady’s exceptional series. While it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, WB Montreal have still crafted a decent enough successor to Arkham City.

The story takes place five years before the events of Arkham Asylum, in the middle of winter in Gotham City where the mob boss Black Mask has ordered eight deadly assassins to hunt and kill Batman. This would make it his second year as a crime fighter, but still before he was well established as the caped crusader and known vigilante, and instead was more of a myth or a legend.

As such, familiar villains of Batman’s Rogue Gallery have had little to no contact with the Bats before this entry. It’s interesting to see faces like the Penguin, who was once horribly disfigured with a broken bottle jammed around his eye socket as his monocle, now perfectly normal. Some of the more notable differences are the absence of Batman veterans Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, who are the Animated Series voice actors for Batman and The Joker, respectively.

Instead, Roger Craig Smith, who some may know as the voice of Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series, or the most current voice actor for Sonic the Hedgehog, has been cast as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Troy Baker, who has most recently played Booker Dewitt in BioShock Infinite has taken on the role of the Joker. To be perfectly honest, I was worried they wouldn’t live up to incredible talent of the former actors, but to my surprise both not only sound believable as their characters, but do a bloody good job with their performances.

The game’s world this time around is not in an enclosed prison, but is rather a much larger part of Gotham City. A quick look at the game’s map shows that it’s roughly double the size of Arkham City’s map. One of the best things about Arkham City was that Rocksteady paid an absurd attention to detail and crammed Arkham City with Easter Eggs and references to other Batman villains, or comic books. WB Montreal attempts this, but doesn’t quite reach the same level. It becomes even more apparent when you realize how big the game’s map is and the missed opportunity to put even more content. That being said, you can expect some clever and subtle Easter Eggs, like a transport crate with Queen’s Industries’ label, or Calendar Man’s cell in the opening level at Blackgate Prison.

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