‘Batman: Arkham Origins’ Review Roundup: Good Story, Little Innovation

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 11th, 2014 at 2:17 pm,

Batman Arkham Origins Box Art Retail

When it was first announced that Batman: Arkham Origins wouldn’t be under the creative influence of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City Rocksteady, many began to worry. That is to be expected from any fan-base when a creative force hands off the reigns to a property they are synonymous with, and it became clear that Warner Brothers Montreal had some impossibly big boots to fill.

Telling the story of a younger and rawer Batman, Arkham Origins takes place on a fateful Christmas Eve night in which a $50,000,000 bounty is placed on Batman’s head by the criminal known as Black Mask. This attracts the interest of eight assassins all looking to kill the Batman and collect the bounty.

It is an intriguing set up for a Batman video game and Warner Brothers has been hyping the title massively but with key creative shifts for the series, is Origins able to stand shoulder to shoulder with its predecessors?

While we are still hard at work on our Arkham Origins review, several outlets have already revealed their thoughts on the game. Here are some choice quotes from some of those reviews:

Game Informer (Andrew Reiner)

Batman: Arkham Origins delivers more of what made Rocksteady’s games great, but doesn’t break new ground. Like a youthful Bruce Wayne, it isn’t as crafty, and it takes its dings during combat, but still puts on a hell of a show when it needs to. Once Joker steps into the spotlight, it becomes a hard game to put down.”

Score: 85/100

Batman Arkham Origins Batcave Screenshot

Official Xbox Magazine (Scott Butterworth)

The premise is dead simple, but the narrative that actually unfolds is essentially a detective drama like Chinatown or Brick. Where City grabbed us by the throat right out of the gate, Origins operates more on subtle intrigue, and slowly builds toward a white-knuckle climax with a surprising amount of psychological depth. The story’s momentum suffers if you allow yourself to be distracted by early side missions, but aside from this initial pacing issue, Origins’ unexpected narrative approach feels refreshingly different.

Score: 90/100

Rev3 (Adam Sessler)

Arkham Origins is a very well made and sometimes great game, that relies so heavily on what came before that it manages to invoke nostalgia from when the franchise felt fresh and exciting. Incredible writing, some stand out sequences along with the satisfying core gameplay, can be engaging but can leave one constantly dreaming what can be done to enliven what can be done with one of the most interesting franchises of this generation. Rest on this laurel no more Batman.”

Score: 80/100

Gamespot (Carolyn Petit)

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.”

Score: 60/100

Based on this small sampling of reviews, it appears Batman: Arkham Origins is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the game offers everything players would expect from another Batman game, from a compelling story to razor sharp combat. But, at the same time, the game apparently doesn’t evolve Rocksteady’s winning formula in any appreciable ways, choosing instead to simply “get by” with what worked before.

Overall, it sounds like fans of the previous Batman games will find a lot to like in Warner Bros. Montreal’s effort, even if it doesn’t exceed expectations. Make sure to stick tuned to Game Rant for our thoughts on the game.

Have the first reviews of Batman: Arkham Origins impacted your decision to buy the game? Are there any Ranters out there who are playing the game right now and want to share their thoughts?

Batman: Arkham Origins is available now on PC, PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360.

TAGS: Batman, Batman Arkham Origins, PS3, Warner Bros. Interactive, Wii U, Xbox 360

  • George

    I loved City and Asylum, but I have to say with Origins I am hugely disappointed.

    It had a great premise, great hype, great acting talent, and still I find myself genuinely bored when playing it, despite the amazing acting ability showcased by Roger Craig-Smith (Batman) and Troy Baker (Joker).

    I haven’t completed it yet, so I won’t be too harsh, but I have just met the Joker. Right now, the game is just unoriginal, and nearly in every way exactly like City, with the same environments (City), voice actors (the thugs?), enemy types and same ways to defeat them (riot shields, brutes etc) and UI. It feels like an expansion of City, rather than a sequel or prequel in mechanics or story.

    So far, and no spoilers ahead of course, the story just hasn’t picked up. The execution of the boss fights, to the way you meet them, to the order in which you fight them, has also been a huge blow to the game for me. Batman doesn’t feel like a rookie, he is just as capable as Asylum’s and City’s, just as skilled and smart, and has BETTER GADGETS, which makes no sense to me. The only thing that is different about him, to me, is his outfit (which is admittedly cool), and the way in which he interrogates). I have done a few side missions, again I was born. They follow much of the old Arkham’s level system, succumbing to dream states, find the killer, etc. There is literally no creativity so far.

    The voice talent for Batman and Joker though, is incredible, and the game’s greatest strength. Troy Baker successfully sounds like a younger (creepier) Hamill Joker, and Roger Craig-Smith really does pull off an angrier Conroy Batman.

    Other than that, if you pick up the game be prepared for ALOT of copy and pasting. It is literally the map for Arkham City, with the same mechanics with snow, and younger looking characters from the previous games with a (so far) dull story.

    An expansion feel, not worthy (so far) of an additional game to the Arkham-verse.

    • ColdSc

      I’m enjoying but have to agree with most of your points. Arkham Origins is pretty much Arkham City 2.0. With the leap Asylum made to City, I was hoping the same would be made to Origins, it didn’t even make half the leap to be honest. I got the impression the new developer were frightened to touch anything so they just added whatever necessary to make it a new game. I also found they didn’t take advantage of the open city at all. There’s not one citizen on the streets. I feel their reasoning for it is more of an excuse to be lazy and not find a way to implement traffic and/or citizens, it really irks me that they didn’t take advantage of the premise. Anyways, with all these complaints I’m still enjoying the game lol. I’d probably give it an 8/10 so far.

  • Alex

    So people who are disappointed are the ones who expected new features? I, on the other hand, in love with this game because it is exactly like the first 2 Batman games and I loved them as well. The other games I kinda get bored so I can’t play longer than 4 -5 hours, but the Batman games, I was so eager to keep playing. If you are hesitant about getting it, just ask yourself if you enjoyed the first Batman games. If yes, get this.

  • lloyd

    I’m not disappointed with Origins, because i knew EXACTLY what i was getting into. Nothing really big changed gameplay wise, but I’m enjoying it (Tbh, i like it more than Asylum as soon as the whole Joker/Blackgate scene happen…not spoiling anything lol, but it’s great)

  • ponchobill

    I’m loving it so far. There was no need for this game to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. It’s pretty much like the other two, which is fine. BTW, AC didn’t break new ground, either. Other than a new location and some new characters it (AC) played much like Asylum.

    • http://Gamehermits.wordpress.com Josh Calkins

      I somewhat disagree. Friends who are impressed by AC are reticent to try AA when I warn them that it is signifigantly more segmented and confined. In addition, the gadgets are dolled out slower, the line launcher is less versatile, and the ability to grapple launch is nonexistent. Finally, the long open gliding areas that you can chain together for extended flight are not part of AA. I still highly reccomend both of those games, but playing them in reverse order might be a bit dissapointing after the freedom of AC.

  • Max

    Right I knew it wasn’t a must have because the gameplay is the same but I was fine with that but I don’t know they the city 50 times larger and then there is nothing in it no civilians just all gangs. All there is to do except story is go beat up gangs they should have more side missions and stuff to do in the city

    • ColdSc

      I’m enjoying the game but I find they really didn’t take advantage of the premise at all. What’s the point of having Gotham City be the premise if they’re not going to do anything with it. I think Arkham City had more things to do than this lol.

  • Max

    Well I dunno about citizens and I’m sure the devs feel the same what would they add to the game. It’s not like gta where the majority of travel is done on ground level, batman spends must of his time above the city. If they were there they could be used in conjunction with gangs maybe

  • Max

    Well they would make the place more alive or real you could say

  • Max

    I think there is some games you can’t make a multiplayer with, taking into account the combat system and the heroes don’t use guns. It would have better if they added more stuff to City and left the multiplayer out.

  • Scrambles

    about the lack of innovation, this is the third game is a series is it not?
    most games would do well if there weren’t major changes to the core gameplay.

    • Bobby

      Thanks for saying this. No one should be blaming WB Montreal for lack of innovation since they stuck with what people enjoyed in the first two games. People complaining about the innovation are just bored with the game period. I love the fighting in the game and it will be awhile before I am “tired” of the game play.

      For example Assassin’s Creed. I loved those games, but when I got to the 4th game (Revelations) I was so bored with the repetitive game play it took me over a year to finally force myself to finish the game and play Assassins Creed 3.

      Its part of human nature to get bored of things and I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t enjoy the next Batman game like I did with Assassin’s Creed.

      It’s almost lose/lose for WB. Players will complain that everything is the same, but at the same time if WB had changed up the game play, those same people would be complaining how it’s not as good as the “older” games. If you are one of those players…move on already.

      • George

        I’m not mate, in fact the leap from Asylum to City was good enough. A change in pace, with a few tweaks. It’s not a big ask.

        There is nothing AT ALL new about this game. Having now completed, I am just as disappointed with it. The city had absolutely no life, I didn’t even fight one of the eight assassins at all, or even see that assassin in the main story, and the ones I was really looking forward to fighting were beaten in five minutes on hard mode.

        Not once did I feel like Batman was in peril. Plot wise, the characters they chose to seem like they may die, or who you need to resuscitate, are in Asylum and City, so I knew they’d obviously make it. No worry, no sweat, no real investment into the characters.

        They literally shoved the premise over an over in our faces, I felt. ‘Oh we don’t Batman he must be a villain’, centric lines, were overused. Now creativity, no other avenue’s explored. Just reiterations of that single line, with a few shoddy lines from other characters who literally said things like, ‘Batman is a force for good’, and then just left the scene. It’s tacky and it’s lazy.

        The same twists were used with the same villains from other games, even the same scenario’s (Joker at blackgate). Same maps, same exact animations and UI.

        Even though COD and AC do a lot of this stuff, at least they have the grace to change it up a little bit with scenery and story. Again I was looking at a backdrop of the Gotham I wanted to go to, whilst being in the same Arkham City zone.

        I do enjoy the mechanics, old and (few) new. But it’s just not enough for me to think I spent £40 wisely and well.

        The experience in one word, is ‘meh’, for me.

  • Franky

    I have criticized WB Montreal for their lack of creativity. Batman has so much potential to work with that is a shame WB Montreal didn’t create their innovations. They were lazy. It shows. However, if there is one thing that is different is the story. And you must play it due to the story.

    I cannot help but getting nostalgia when the first encounter with the Joker took place. WB Montreal did their homework. When Batman is trying to save the hotel hostages it brought me back to Batman: The Animated Series. It was an awesome experience. I truly loved it. Is the only reason why you have to play it, but there is another different one as well.

    The Boss battles in the game may be one of the most unique boss battles I have ever played. You not only have to deplete their health meter, but you must use your skills and advanced techniques in the game to prpgress through. Some are cool(Mad Hatters), others were pointless(Shiva), but some were indeed challenging(Deadshot). It adds another dimension to Batmans potential. And quite frankly, I can say Origins boss battles(Firefly’s may have been the best boss battle in the Arkham games) are the best; definitely much difficult than Asylums(Asylums was too easy) and City(City has the star players that makes it appealling). They are, without a doubt, truly awesome.

    With three Arkham games in the bag I cannot but help and wonder the missopportunities WB Montreal had. The story is hreat, the boss battles are amazing, but everything else? Is awful. Just awful.

    The character bios is lazy and disinteresting, with a small cast of (un)recognizable characters that bring nothing more than a file and a meaningless and narrowed bio. The “tree” upgrade is, by far, the worse in the game. Asylum gave us some choice when it came to upgrades, but each one had its own distinct category that separated another one. City raised the level. The freedom to choose the upgrades you see fit gave you, the player, a better understanding how you want to progress your character. If you want to add armor? Go for it. If you want to pock “Free Flow” focus? Knock yourself out. The “tree” upgrade in Irigins takes away the decision making and replaces it with a system where you find yourself restricting what you want to do with Batman. The game tells you how you should play Batman. And that’s awful. As a matter of fact, is unacceptable. Let’s hope the next installment we see a more advanced system where brute is your kind of play? or speed is your style of play. With the liberty to customize your character. That’s big.

    All in all, Origins is a great game that falls victim to its own problems. You can love it or hate. WB Montreal did things right, but they failed so much that WB would be wise to give Rocksteady the Batmobile from now on(BTW, a Batmobile in-game play or mini-game must be a priority in the next one). The Batwing and the Batcave are great additions to the world of Arkham, but they both fail to encourage the player to use them for a purpose. The “Red Hood” files are good enough easter eggs to last for a couple minutes that the Batcave becomes useless once you know your true objectives. There’s so much to learn, but it was a great experiment and idea and WB deserves credit for trying.

    Is a good game. A great story. Great history. But that may be what this game is when comparing the three: history.

  • Bobby

    I am not a gamer that is close or follows the Batman story or development outside the games/movies. So whatever story is developed I enjoy very much. I just play games because I enjoy them. I remember trying the demo for Asylum and loved it because I fell in love with the fight system. I’m a perfectionist and the fight system really challenges me and also annoys me when I know I can do better. With that being said I am glad WB Montreal kept the fighting/predator system the same.

    Here are some of bad things first for some people:

    1. Lack of innovation: This might drive some players crazy because there is not really anything new to the fighting/predator moments. At the same time if you are a fan of the older games…why change something that is great? There are some new things that were added but not much difference from the base of the game. The only new things seem to be the detective mode, where scanning crime scenes go more in depth and you need to find evidence. There is also multi-player which I have not tried yet.

    2. Lifeless: Since this is a prequel you are doing missions across Gotham city and of course Arkham City before it was converted for the inmates in AC. I wanted to see civilians in the street and traffic but there was nothing. In AC there were those helicopters flying around and would follow you if they spotted you, there’s not much going on in the air this time around and I felt alone in the city which should be full of life.

    When you run in to Joker for the first time and he blows up the building across the street. Then Batman grabs Joker and asks “How many innocent lives did you take?” I felt nothing because you don’t see life in the city to make that connection to the citizens in the game.
    ***END SPOILER***

    3. Prequel: I mostly hate prequels because you always know what the future outcome is going to be with some of the main characters. I liked to be surprised. Like I said above I don’t follow Batman stories outside the movies/games. So introducing some lesser known villains was a plus helped balanced that out for me for unpredictability.

    Now for the good things:

    1. No learning curve: This could be a good or bad thing for players but for me this was good. Why change anything if it’s something we fell in love with in the first two games?

    2. Challenge: Even though fighting and predator is copy/paste I found myself dying a lot more in boss fights and even a couple of street fights. Since I am a fan of the fighting in this game I paid close attention to detail in the fighting. It made me think that WB Montreal put more thought into the beginning of Batman and I saw that in the fighting.

    As you level up, you are limited to what you can upgrade because you can only upgrade certain abilities as long as you follow the upgrade trees. I liked this because you can’t start off getting the 5x hit bonus for abilities until late in the game. Which makes you stuck to get 8x hits to use a combo move for awhile. There is no such things as perfect hits anymore as well. It made gang fights a lot more challenging and made me think “this is perfect” since this is a prequel. Batman should not be an expert yet if this is a prequel and you can’t learn some of the things we were used to in AA and AC.

    3. Story: Seems like a lot of people are finding the story boring and ill admit at the start it felt boring until there was a good turning point within a few hours of game play.

    The game has its ups and down and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I’m looking forward to multiplayer and challenge maps still. If you liked AA and AC, this is worth a buy. I think most of the down sides is just players being picky.

    I was very worried hearing that WB Montreal was taking over this game, but in the end I am very happy with what they did. There was so much worry and buzz around WB being the new developer that I was almost expecting this game to be bad. In the end I find myself smiling because WB Montreal stuck with what we loved in the game and tried to add some changes of their own. I loved that it was something I was familiar with, unlike others might not like the lack of innovation.

    I think the reviews were fair but at the same time, if you loved the first two games, you will love this one as well. Don’t over think it before you buy/rent the game because you will get lost in it like you did with the others.

  • Micheal Kelly

    This game doesn’t change a whole lot from what Rocksteady has done, but that’s not really a bad thing. Rocksteady made the perfect formula to use, and I’m not sure if there is anything to change anyway. This game has great graphics, a great origin story of Batman and Joker, and the combat-well let’s just say if you’ve played the previous entries, you know it’s great. Definitely recommended to anyone who’s a fan of Batman, good games, or just amazing things in general.

  • Max

    “This game doesn’t change a whole lot from what Rocksteady has done, but that’s not really a bad thing” that’s not a good thing either you need innovation and progression for the series to improve. It’s not enough to just change the story and make the map bigger and add on a tacky multiplayer. Basically what it comes down to is for the money we pay they not going to make it into the real thing.