Sunday, 25 December 2016

Batman: Arkham Origins (PC)

Developer:WB Games Montréal|Release Date:2013|Systems:Win, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U

This week on Super Adventures, a game about punching people at Christmas!

It's been ages since I've played a Batman game, in fact I think the last one on the site was probably Return of the Joker for the NES, back in April 2015. Though it still seems too soon to play Batman: Arkham Origins, because of how similar it is to the other two. In my Batman: Arkham City article I joked that I'd be able to copy/paste parts of my Arkham Asylum post and save myself some work, and here that's doubly true! But it's a Christmas game and I feel like playing it again, so I am.

I love these beautiful tableaux of frozen Batviolence behind the menu by the way. Batman's so gritty in this one with his tactical Bat-armour and his permanent bad mood, that I keep expecting the camera to pan across blood and displaced teeth flying through the air.

This used to be the black sheep of the franchise, due to it not being developed by Rocksteady, and the bugs, and the fact that they prioritised releasing paid DLC instead of fixing them all, but I think Arkham Knight's claimed that position now (at least on PC). There's still a bit of an issue with the multiplayer, seeing as it was switched off forever earlier this month, but I didn't even know it had multiplayer, so that shows how much I care about that.

(Click on the images to view my original full size screenshots. DX11 mode, all settings on full... resolution at 1280x720).


The game begins with a short cutscene in the Batcave; likely the first time we've gotten to see the place in the games. Bruce stomps around purposefully with his tactical Batpants on freaking out the actual bats, while the news fills in what we need to know:
  • There's a severe storm warning, so all Gotham residents are urged to stay indoors. This will drastically limit the number of muggings Batman will be able to stop, but it also means that players can't slip out of character and use his advanced combat techniques to cripple the innocent.
  • Bruce Wayne's only been back in Gotham and dispensing vigilante justice for two years at this point, so this is a prequel!
  • One of Gotham's worst serial killers, Calendar Man, is about to be executed. Commissioner Captain Gordon denies that he was apprehended by a Bat Man, or that there even is a Bat Man.
  • Black Mask has broken into Blackgate Prison and is holding Commissioner Loeb hostage.
So Bruce puts the rest of his Batman outfit on, climbs into his Batwing and flies off without saying a word to Alfred! What a dick. He didn't even acknowledge the Christmas dinner he'd just brought him.

All the Arkham games I've played come with a fantastic model viewer, which is handy for me because it lets me stick the Asylum, City and Origins flavours of Batman next to each other to compare them (with a little bit of colour adjustment so they don't look so out of place).

The only difference I can notice between the first two is the boots, but Origins takes place early in Batman's career so he's wearing a more primitive version of his Batsuit. This is long before he realised that superstitious criminals fear a man who wears his underwear on the outside of his tights.

Anyway, Batman flies his jet over to Blackgate Prison, jumps out, glides to the ground and gives control to me.

Seems that someone's been indulging in a bit of destruction here, which gives the game an opportunity to teach me the basics. First lesson was how to walk forward, then I learned how to duck under a broken sign, and now I'm learning how to run!

But when I approached the next room I was interrupted by a cutscene showing the warden getting beaten to death with a baseball bat by one of Black Mask's goons. He noticed Batman standing there and redirected the bat his way, and a button prompt suddenly flashed on screen for me to deal with!

It looks like a QTE sequence, but it's actually the next part of the tutorial, teaching me how counters works.

When I see an enemy about to hit me (indicated here by those optional blue lightning bolts), one tap of the counter button blocks their move, disarms them, and sends the pain right back in their direction. So I can just stand here waiting for these escaped prisoners to come to me, and eventually take them all down without moving or throwing a punch.

But waiting around isn't going to build my combo up, so I need to keep punching, countering, whipping my cape around, and doing flips over their head to chain together my moves and build up speed. There's no need to stand in the correct place or target the right enemy, Batman knows what he's doing, so it's all amazingly fluid and effortless... until I accidentally throw a punch at thin air or miss a counter, then I'm suddenly brought back down to earth. I need to build up my combo to access my special moves, so screwing up hurts.

The fighting system is basically the same as the earlier games, maybe slightly less forgiving, but this time they've added grades to let me know how dangerous the enemies were and how much I suck. In this case I was fighting piss easy opponents and I managed a grade C. I'll need to do better than that to rake in the XP.

Keeping my moves varied and my combos high gets me a better score, and getting hit doesn't. I'll get health back for winning either way, but ideally I'll want to walk away without losing any in the first place.


A FIGHT OR TWO LATER.


This is a prequel, but Batman's still got his Detective Vision that lets me look through walls and spy on people's skeletons. Plus he starts off with a good selection of gadgets on his belt, so I don't have to unlock things like explosive gel this time.

Reporter Vicki Vale's not actually in anyone's underpants by the way, and she's not reporting live either as they broke her camera. So the TV news is going to have to live without footage of me quick-firing a Batarang at that switch to open the door, then sliding in to take down four mobsters like a bat-eared boss.

This is the whole map so far, so you can see that the game's not at its most Metroidvaniary right now. I'm supposed to be following a trail of mayhem to track down Commissioner Loeb before Black Mask executes him, but there's only ever one way for me to go.

Though I did have to bypass a security gate by crawling through a vent... inside Calendar Man's cell on Death Row. The security in this place is amazing.

I've been interrupted by couple of short cutscenes along the way, with Batman noticing a drone flying around, then collecting the memory card when he finds it smashed, but they've been very unobtrusive. There's a story going on, but it complements the gameplay instead of tripping it up all the time. And the cutscenes are skippable (when it's not secretly loading).

Anyway Black Mask puts Commissioner Loeb in the gas chamber in place of Calendar Man and murders him before Batman can get there. But the guy was a tool and a bent copper, so no one's going to be overly broken up about it.

I've still got Black Mask to catch, but he's not making it easy for me. He flew off in a helicopter and left me fighting a giant crocodile man and his goons.

Man, I've been really dreading these boss fights. They're the main reason I haven't replayed the game again since beating it back when it was new.

Here I have to quickfire a Batarang to detonate the fuel tank Killer Croc's about to lob at me, then get over there and fight both him and the goons that are dropped in by chopper simultaneously.

Whoa, I actually dodged him for once! Those red lightning bolts above his head only flash up for a split second before they're followed by a swipe, so I need to react immediately. But I haven't been. In fact I've been getting my ass handed to me.

There's different enemy types in this that require different techniques to evade and take down. Croc here is kind of like an armoured type, so I can't simply go over there and hit him, I have to swirl my cape in front of his face to daze him first. That opens him up for my beatdown move, where I just keep tapping punch until he recovers his balance. Good for building up combos that move.

Oh by the way, check out all the footprints in the snow! If there's one new feature that justifies this game's existence to me, it's that one.

Man, I'm still amazed by the graphics we get these days. The benefit of playing so many retro games, is that new titles never lose their spectacle for me.

Oh right, I forgot to mention that after the button mashing beatdown I get a button mashing escape sequence, where I have to stop Killer Croc from biting Batman's face off. I've never been a fan of having to tap a button in games like this. Sure it means I have to struggle along with the character and share his exhaustion, but I don't really want to! That's why I'm playing a video game and not fighting a giant crocodile man in real life.

The fight cycles through these three stages a few times before his health bar's fully depleted, but I think I've got him now. So that wasn't so bad.

Whoa, Batman, you're maybe putting a little too much faith in that broken metal fence there. There's a long drop and some very icy water beneath them both right now.

Batman wants to know where Black Mask went so he tries to win Croc over with lines like "You want teeth, I want answers," but he's not forthcoming. Though he does let slip that Black Mask has hired assassins to kill him, so that's handy to know.

He knocks him out and drags him to somewhere safer, but Gordon and his cops interrupt with guns drawn. So Batman pulls a 'Back to the Future 2' and drops backwards off the cliff... onto his waiting Batwing!

"No such thing as a Bat Man, huh?" asks a cop I'm guessing to be Harvey Bullock. So the cops really didn't know he was real either then?

With nowhere better to go right now, Batman returns to the Batcave and then hands control to me again. I finally get to explore the Batcave in an Arkham game! And maybe even have a chat with Alfred!

These two have different voice actors this time by the way, as they're supposed to sound younger. Roger Craig Smith portrays Batman, and he's missing a lot of the warmth that Kevin Conroy brought to the role, but that's probably deliberate considering how much of an asshole he is in this. I think he does well though; he's very Batman.

Alfred on the other hand is played by a guy called Jarvis, and I hope that someday Iron Man's butler Jarvis is played by a guy called Alfred for the sake of balance. He does a good job as well. Everyone's doing good jobs all over, no one's doing bad jobs.

Even I've done alright, as I've gotten enough XP to level up and earn an upgrade point. These points can be spent to unlock upgrades and improve Batman's skills and equipment. RPG elements!

There's three separate pages of these upgrade trees, but one page fills in by itself as I progress through the game and complete challenges, so that means I've just got this page of combat upgrades and a separate screen of gadget improvements to pick from.

Though I've got even less choice than it seems, as both the 'combat armour' and 'ballistic armour' paths have to be completed before I can move further down this tree, and then after that I get blocked by a story progress only upgrade! The game really wants me to upgrade my armour, but that's fine with me as I know what's coming and I know that I need to get these maxed out ASAP.

(It's Deathstroke).

I eventually walked over to one of the Batcomputers and got this video from the drone's memory card. It wasn't just filming the events in the prison, it's also got footage of Black Mask revealing the assassins he's bringing in. One night to kill the Bat, payment for the hit is $50,000,000.

Then the cutscene shows stylish clips of the eight assassins kicking ass from a variety of camera angles, which is presumably footage already on the Batcomputer's hard drive, but I dunno! It might have been drone guy who filmed that too, sneakily hovering around fight scenes and into an interrogation room to get good shots of them all.

The bad news is that Batman still doesn't know where Black Mask few off to, but he's pretty sure that this drone belongs to the Penguin, and if he finds him he can find Black Mask and maybe stop all those hired killers he hired from killing him.

Alfred points out that since they're the only two who know Batman's true identity, the assassins will all fail if he just takes the night off and enjoys his reheated Christmas dinner. But Bruce knows that they'll put innocents in danger to lure him out. Plus Batman's greatest weapon (after his fists) is his legend, and if he demonstrates any fear then he'll be a bloke in a costume instead of an unstoppable force of nature, and that's less likely to make hardened criminals fill their pants at the sight of him or stay home instead.

Man, there's just no good angle to take screenshots of this Batcave. It's a bit of a let-down really. Also he should sort out those load-bearing wooden beams, as this place looks like it's about to cave in at any moment.

I was annoyed at first that I couldn't run or grapple around the place, especially as it takes ages to walk around, but that last cutscene unlocked his full agility and now I'm happy. Plus I can also go fight in the combat simulator!

I have the New Millennium skins pack so I've got a few bonus Batsuits to wear in combat simulator fights, but I need to finish the entire game first before it'll let me wear them out in the city. I'm sorry Origins, but are these legit comic book costumes too silly for your serious gritty storyline? Well actually this one is a bit daft looking. Plus the inside of the cape is supposed to be bright blue!

Alright, I'm getting in my jet and flying to Gotham City. The drone was programmed to fly to Jezebel Plaza, so I'm going to go there, punch some of Penguin's men, find out where Penguin is, punch him, and turn the game off. I think I'll have seen enough by then.


BUT THEN...


I got side-tracked! Someone's jamming my shit, so I had to drop by a radio tower and investigate.

Turns out that the folks who came over to repair the tower have been held hostage by mobsters, so I have to do something about that. Fortunately this bit is still basically part of the tutorial, so it's set up to give me an example of all the ways I can silently take a guy out with one move. For instance, here the game's indicating that I can tap the 'Takedown' button to punch them through a thin wall.


THREE TAKEDOWNS LATER.


Performing the tutorial takedowns got me to rank #1 in the Worst Nightmare set of Dark Knight Challenges! That's the lowest possible rank!

I like the idea of these challenges, as they're basically achievements with the occasional reward attached, but there's one big problem with them: I have to achieve them in order. Sure I've got separate sets for combat, stealth and general Batman behaviour, but that's still only 3 out of 45 challenges that are available to me at any time.

What's doubly annoying is I've only got limited opportunities to get some of them, so I can run out of indoor predator rooms before I've done all of the stealth challenges. What's triply annoying is that some of the later challenges are things that I've already done, but I have to complete some much harder challenges and then do them again before they count.

I found another repairman upstairs, but he's already dead. Now I have to reconstruct the events to find out what killed him and, more importantly, where his access card went flying off to.

I'm pretty much just pointing at areas of interest and holding the A button here, but it's cool to be able to rewind and scrub through a 3D hologram of the guy's death that I can walk around and examine from different angles to find clues. Like that red line over on the left is the flight path of something that flew out of his hand... and at the end of it is something access card shaped lying in a vent.

Turns out that the guy was killed by an exploding access panel that sent him flying backwards with enough force to smash through a wall...

...so I think I'll be getting through the door remotely with my Cryptographic Sequencer. I scanned the data from his access card, but I still have to play a hacking minigame to get the lock open.

I dunno how it controls on mouse and keyboard, but with a controller this is really simple. I just tilt the analogue sticks until I reach the place with one of them that makes half a word appear. When both sticks are in the right place the entire passkey is spelled out and the door unlocks. Then I can disable the jamming and make this into a friendly tower again.

Before I was done though I got a called from a guy called Enigma, who is basically the Riddler except... except he's not called the Riddler yet. So he's going to be in charge of giving me side puzzles to solve around the city for this game.

There you go, you can see on my badly stitched together map that the jamming device has been deactivated and Coventry Tower is now white! This has had the side effect of putting little targets all over the district for me to hit with a Batarang. Enigma's network relays, or whatever.

More importantly, it's given me a fast travel point that I can instantly return to with a Batwing cutscene. Unfortunately it's down on the south island, and Jezebel Plaza's up in the Bowery on the north island, so if I want to go see Penguin's men I'll have to get there the hard way.

The top island is very similar to Arkham City's map (as it's the same place), but the bottom island and the bridge are all new, so this place has to be at least twice the size. It's more of an open world, less of a Batman theme park. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.

And I'm finally outside in the wide open city! Well I was until I reached this narrow bridge at least, covered with inexplicably abandoned cars and gangs of criminals.

I can hear when crimes are reported by the police dispatcher on my radio and I even get a red arrow pointing the way, but they're optional and I all I get for stopping them is XP, so I could swing right on by and leave them to it. But that blue bat-symbol on the guy's head is way too tempting. It means that I'm in range for a glide kick, which lets me sail down using my cape as a glider, and plant my boots into his head. 'Batman Begins' did the character a real favour by adding 'cape gliding' to his bag of tricks.

Knocking him on his ass won't be a takedown, as enemies keep picking themselves back up until their invisible health bars are empty, but it'll make me happy. It's nice to play a game where I'm distracted by random fights because I enjoy the gameplay instead of because I need the XP.

And here's what the north island looks like.

Hey, I recognise that ACE Chemicals sign from Arkham City! Also you can hardly see it, but those blue smudges in the sky above his pointy ears lead up to the Batsignal shining on the clouds. It points down to my next destination, which is cool. I like my objective markers.

Arkham City
Here's the exact same view from the same water tower in Arkham City for comparison (with all the graphics on full this time). You'd think the developers would've just reused whatever they could, but the buildings are all slightly different, and seem to have been repositioned slightly. Plus the skyline back there is entirely new.
 
Arkham Origins definitely has a different atmosphere to it, with a bit less colour and a bit more realism. It's set in a time before his insane rogue's gallery came out to play, so he's been fighting more mundane opponents in a more down to earth setting. It's still a real craphole though; I can hear criminals on my scanner talking between themselves about how cold and hungry they are, and how impossible it is to get out of their life of crime. It surprising how much the game's trying to get me to sympathise with folks I have to hit to make progress.

Also a problem I'm having is that Arkham Origins seems to have less targets to shoot my grapnel gun at than Arkham City, and I need them so that I can build up airspeed for my gliding! I find myself flinging myself into the air and then tapping the button over and over hoping that he'll fire his grapnel and latch onto something before he falls softly to the pavement. Plus some buildings are so tall that I can't grapnel up to the top of them at all, and that's just wrong!


A SHORT FLIGHT LATER.


Wow, got a big enough moon there? Hey I wonder if this is pre-rendered, or if I can get him wearing that '1st Appearance' outfit with the purple gloves for this pose.

I've reached Jezebel Plaza at last, and my reward is a short cutscene of Batman spying on an arms deal going down from a gargoyle. Apparently the Penguin's men were planning to sell assault rifles and collect their drone at the same place.

So I jumped down, had a bit of fight, and then Batman took over again to apply the old 'throw them off a building with a rope around their feet' interrogation technique in another cutscene. The guy finally offered to talk, but Batman took his phone and used that instead, dropping him into a Christmas tree! The guy's a real bastard in this game.

Now I've got to go find some more groups of Penguin's men to triangulate Penguin's position. And by 'find' I mean 'follow the waypoints on my compass'.

First though, I'm going to solve one of Enigma's puzzles that I ran into on a rooftop along the way.

The problem I'm faced with here is a door with three huge bolts sticking into it from the floor, keeping it shut. I'm sure that if I break that fuse box on the other side of the fence the lock will automatically open, but it's on the other side of a fence!

Fortunately Batman's brought with him an infinite supply of special remote controlled Batarangs, and once this thing is airborne I'll be able to fly it through the arcing electricity to charge it, and then steer it directly into the fuse box. You'd think having electricity crackling through it would break the delicate mechanism or cut off my radio signal, but nah it's fine.

I opened the door, hacked the thing and annoyed Enigma some more. Job done! What am I meant to be doing again? Oh right, I'm tracking down the Penguin's goons.


SOME GOONS LATER.


This last group of goons has guns (which is why they're glowing orange), so I'm having to approach this with a bit more subtlety. Batman can take more bullets than your average vigilante, but he'll still be dead within seconds if I make myself a target. Fortunately I'm pretty much silent when I want to be, so I can creep right up behind people and take them out with one stealthy neck grab. Non-lethally of course, I'm the Batman, not Zack Snyder's Batman.

I can't hide the bodies afterwards, but that's fine as Batman wants them to be found. He wants criminals to know he's there, and that he's coming after them, so that they'll freak out and make dumb mistakes.

By the way, you can see here just how crowded these streets are with criminals, with blue and orange skeletons all over the place in the distance. Hey that's one of Enigma's network relays up there! Maybe I'll tap the Batarang button and send one automatically arcing towards it... nah, I'd better not. Even if it lands on target and doesn't fly over to hit the other dude instead, an exploding bit of network hardware might cause suspicion.

Right, I've gotten what I've needed from these guys so now I'm ready to pay Penguin a visit, find out where Black Mask is, and then turn the game off.

First though I'm going to screw around in the city for a bit doing some Dark Knight Challenges instead.

This one requires me to do an AR gliding challenge that looks a little too much like the flying through rings levels in Superman 64. Also those rings are pointing straight down into a solid block of ice! What, am I supposed dive bomb head-first and hit it hard enough to bounce off or something?

At least resetting the challenge is painless enough. By the way, Batman can't swim in this so I should try to avoid dunking him in the icy Gotham River if I can help it.

Now that's done I'm finally going after the Penguin himself. Turns out that he's been hiding out on an old boat docked nearby. "No wonder he was so hard to find," thinks Batman, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the deck is covered in tanks and anti-aircraft missile launchers. There are some clues that an arms dealer might be residing here.

So now I'm dealing with a proper stealth encounter on a boat... it's so Metal Gear Solid 2. I've already taken out two snipers keeping watch from above, but by my count there's still seven armed enemies patrolling the deck and it's really hard to tell where they're facing. I'm lucky if I can even tell if there's a wall in the way when I'm using Detective Vision like this.

Okay, I'm a bit nervous about doing absolutely anything here as keeping track of seven enemies is a bit overwhelming, but I think I've figure out my next move. I'm going to jump off the boat.

Alright, now that I'm hanging off the side of the boat I'm feeling a bit safer. All the enemies are in front of me where I can keep an eye on them and I've got an escape route (down). In fact two of the enemies have wandered right in front of me, close enough for me to grab. I was going to wait for one to leave before I tried anything, but then 'Double Ledge Takedown' appeared on screen, and how is that possible to resist?

Unfortunately it never occurred to me that people might make a loud yelling noise when they're dragged off a boat and hung upside down on a rope, so I wasn't ready for the other enemies to start hunting for me. I improvised though, popping back up and using my ledge takedown on a third one.

After hiding in a vent for approximately forever trying to figure out what I was going to do about four freaked out guards patrolling the deck above my head, I eventually found a stealthy way to sort them out and entered the boat.

So now I'm using my Batclaw to pull this makeshift raft around the flooded ship. Funny thing is, none of this is my fault, the place was falling apart long before I got here.

This seems like a good time to mention that sometimes I'll need certain specific gadgets to get past a certain part of a level. This bit's no trouble as I start off with the Batclaw, but a bit further on I came across a passage blocked by a steam vent. If I want to see what's in there I'm going to have to come back later when I have the right tool.

Penguin doesn't seem all that bothered by the state of his ship, as he's holding a fighting tournament here tonight.

I got in a very satisfying fight against the first of Black Mask's assassins here, but I can't screenshot satisfaction so I grabbed a picture of Tracey the fight announcer instead. I'm fairly sure that she's supposed to be English, like the Penguin is in these games, and some of the lines she's been coming out with are making it very hard to keep my stoic humourless Batman face on.

I'm English myself but I haven't been everywhere in the country and I don't know if anyone actually talks like this, but I'm glad that she does because it's brightened up my day. It's like I've wandered into a Guy Ritchie movie.

Man I never realised how much I want a Guy Ritchie Batman movie until now. I'm sure I'm in the minority on that one though. And Jason Statham could never do Batman's accent.

Oh man, I thought the predator encounter on the deck was tricky, but now I'm against a whole room of people, and it's not a small room. So many people facing in so many directions!

This seemed like the perfect time to do the Dark Knight Challenge where I take them out without being spotted, but I didn't realise that dropping down from a perch and stringing someone up would make so much noise. People are always yelling out in this game!

I immediately started swinging from perch to perch to lose them, and now they're patrolling for me in a group. If I remember right later in the game they even start shooting my perches out so I can't use them any more, which obviously isn't great for me.

The game's all about vents and vantage points when I'm in place like this. I need to get to where they can't see me, but I can keep an eye on them. Then I pick off one of the strays and vanish again. I should try rigging places with remote detonated explosive gel as well, to drop them through floors and the like, but I haven't been doing my proper Batman preparation.


A FEW FIGHTS AND A TALK WITH PENGUIN LATER.


Oh hi SURPRISE DEATHSTROKE OUT OF NOWHERE! I'd finally caught up with Penguin and we were having a chat, so I figured I'd escaped the worst of the boss fights and I could turn the game off soon. But then the greatest mercenary in the world popped in to wipe the floor with me.

This is an absolute bastard of a boss fight, as Deathstroke is skilled enough to counter my moves. If' I'd come into this without upgrading my armour I would've had no chance. Not that I seem to have much of a chance as it is.

I've been trying to jump over his head, the fire off the Batclaw to send him off balance so that I can get a few hits in without being punished for them. It's barely taken off any of his health, but it's gotten me to the part of his routine where he does a beatdown attack on me! Now I have to hit 'counter' at the right moment for every time he swings his stick at me. Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y YYYYYYYY.

Well that was predictable. Though at least now I know that villains still come on screen to taunt me when I get Batman killed. I've beaten three of these games before and I've remembered enough to get me though most fights without trouble, but this guy's a huge difficulty spike pretty early in the game. It's like they wanted to get rid of all the players who aren't Batman in real life.

Deathstroke's a bit like Killer Croc in that his battle cycles through different stages of combat, using a gadget, countering and then button mashing. If I complete all the stages I knock off a bit of his armour or a weapon, and then I have to go through the whole process again. But I don't have to inflict a lot of damage on him to move past the combat stage, so I'm going to try being patient and wait to counter his attacks.


A LONG STRESSFUL FIGHT LATER.


Well it turns out that I have no patience, as instead of holding back I lost all my health trying to trip him up with running slide attacks. But his health bar's just as empty as mine, so if I can just hold out a little longer I can beat this guy!

AND DEATHSTROKE IS DOWN! Hey Ben Affleck, here's some advice for your new movie script: turns out that Batman can kick Deathstroke's ass. It was all worth it just to hear a shocked Deathstroke ask "What are you?" Though he didn't reply with "I'm Batman"! What the fuck, Bruce?

Taking down assassin #2 has gotten me a new toy to play with: a different kind of grappling hook that'll let me reach different places and connect things to other things. Like criminals to exploding fuel tanks for instance. Non-lethal exploding fuel tanks though of course.

And I'm done for the night. Merry Christmas to you too Penguin, you numpty prat.


CONCLUSION

Man, that's a lot of words I just typed. Writing a whole conclusion for this suddenly feels really daunting... so I'm just going to copy and paste what I wrote about Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
"I found the gameplay to be fantastic, the game looks and sounds like it cost a fortune to make (in the best way), and even the story didn't make me roll my eyes. It stands well above the average franchise tie-in."
"The game isn't just good... if you're a Batman fan, or good... for a licensed game, this seems like a top tier video game in general, for all the same reasons that Arkham Asylum was. Well okay to be honest I think I preferred the focused Metroid-style progression of the first game to this game's open world city, but it's no less polished (or linear) because of it."
"The game doesn't even have one single QTE sequence as far as I can tell! How am I supposed to get invested in the action if I'm not being continually harassed to glance down at my pad and key in the sequence of buttons flashing up on the screen, huh? Oh wait, forget that bullshit, I've thought of another genuine flaw: having to hammer the A button to open vents is kind of annoying. It'd be nice if I never had to do that again."
In fact I can't decide which I like more, Arkham Origins or Arkham City. I originally played this before City, so I've got more of a fondness for it than people who would've seen it as a retread. Plus it helps that I haven't run into any of those game breaking bugs that have bothered other players, or any bugs in general really. Once a guy got knocked off a rooftop and slid back on again, that's as bad as it ever got for me.

Oh wait, I've just remembered another bug I got later when I was trying to complete my Dark Knight Challenges by stopping in crime in every district in the city: one of the districts never has any crime in it! I had to lure crime over to it in the end, which is very un-Batmanly behaviour.

The fighting feels slightly different to the earlier games, but I'm finding it hard to put my finger on why. It's less forgiving maybe; all the games punish you for button mashing instead of getting the timing right, but this seemed more keen to instruct me on the error of my ways. You're not invulnerable during a lot of the longer moves, so I kept getting interrupted while I was doing stuff. Though I guess the new grading system could be part of the reason I was more aware of my mistakes. I was never satisfied with just winning fights, I had to win them well.

The story's got a different feel to it as well, but I liked it. It's a very bleak version of Gotham and Batman's a real asshole in it, but it's not without humour. I can't remember if there's any pay-off at the end to all the people constantly pointing out that high-tech Bat-themed vigilantism isn't solving the economic and societal problems that are filling the streets with freezing, starving criminals, but it at least explains why he has to knock out about a thousand people in one night.

There is one part though, where Batman stumbles across what seems like all the explosives in the world, all rigged to blow up something pretty important... then pretty much steps over them to collect a clue to a murder and then leaves. I understand that he's gotten a bit jaded and he's not the most heroic interpretation of the Caped Crusader, but his complete lack of concern there was a bit hilarious.

My biggest problem with the game is that it has 'Origins' in the title, though if I judged it for that I'd have to judge Condemned: Criminal Origins and Dragon Age: Origins as well. So consider Arkham Origins to be highly recommended... but only if you're a third person action fan who hasn't played one of the other games in a while.

    





Next on Super Adventures: Screenshots of the Year 2016!

I appreciate you reading my words, thanks in advance if you decide to leave a comment, and Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it!

6 comments:

  1. Personally, I found the larger map also a lot sparser/less detailed, and much of the design was more mundane/less strongly themed than in Arkham City...and a lot of the extra challenges felt like obvious busy-work. Passable, but not on par with its predecessor in terms of atmosphere.

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  2. Man, I've been really dreading these boss fights. They're the main reason I haven't replayed the game again since beating it back when it was new.

    Hang on, hang on! Have you abandoned the "must be a new game" rule? You did have that rule, didn't you? I'm not making it up, am I?

    Wow, got a big enough moon there? Hey I wonder if this is pre-rendered, or if I can get him wearing that '1st Appearance' outfit with the purple gloves for this pose

    Can you?

    Also, does the game let you play as the Bruce Timm and Adam West Batmans?

    Man I never realised how much I want a Guy Ritchie Batman movie until now. I'm sure I'm in the minority on that one though. And Jason Statham could never do Batman's accent.

    No, I'm up for that too. Merry Christmas!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah the 'new game' thing used to be a rule but I scrapped it ages ago so that everything didn't have to be so obscure. I don't actually remember scrapping it, but it's not in the rules list any more so I must have.

      I'd have to finish the entire game to find out the answer to the purple gloves question I'm afraid. Plus Adam West Batman is exclusive to a PS3 only DLC, and Bruce Timm Batman's only in Arkham City. For some reason.

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    2. I'm watching someone on Youtube playing it as Adam West Batman and I am disappointed that (a) they didn't get West in to record new dialogue, and (b) there are no visual sound effects.

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    3. Well that's a disappointment. At least in Arkham City when you dress up as Animated Batman, Catwoman and Robin both get dressed up to match. And it's Kevin Conroy doing the voice! Sure it's always his voice, but it's always perfect so that's fine with me.

      I saw a bit of Arkham Knight today with Conroy's voice coming out of the Christian Bale Batman skin, and got a beautiful glimpse what those films would've been like if they'd hired him to dub over Bale's growl.

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  3. I really enjoy all the effort you put into things like that comparative model view at the top, and gifs of 2D games. Good stuff.

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