Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: Batman Arkham Origins
Once again, we find ourselves on converging paths. Good morning to you all in readerland! Today marks your usual day for Suggestions, and like I do most every week, with a few exceptions, I plan on giving you all something that you should be sinking your teeth into at this very moment. I normally try and give you guys something to read or to view, but I wanted to give you guys something to play with this week. No, it is not the Crown Jewels of Harkness, but something a bit more dark and brooding. Not to say that the Harkness nuts aren’t constantly roasting with vengeance, but it was not what I was referring to. I, and much of the gaming community, have been waiting patiently for the follow up to our favorite Batty hero’s adventures, and we finally have the ability to get our hands on it. Ladies and gentlemen, denizens of the evening, and inhabitants of Arkham, I bring to you…..Batman: Arkham Origins!
Now before I get too deep into this, I would like to start off by saying that I am not finished with this game, and most likely will not be for a while, but I felt compelled to at least share in my experiences so far with this installment in the Arkham franchise. I take my time when I play my games now, unlike my younger self who would try to destroy games in as little time as possible, because that was what I did. I played through Final Fantasy 10 in about a week and a half, which in reality should have taken me maybe 3 weeks of casual play, but casualness flew out the window as soon as Auron came into play. Regardless, my younger self would be screaming at the patience I have been exuding with my most recent gaming experiences. Why are you going so fucking slow? Are you actually taking a phone call in the middle of a boss fight? Why are you talking to anyone at all? Such is the life of a younger Harkness. These days though, I like to enjoy my gaming and extracurricular pursuits to the best of my ability, regardless of how much time it takes. That out of the way, let’s get right to this.
Arkham Origins starts out in some pretty nasty fashion, with Batman being still relatively new to the scene. Not everyone knows who he is, but there have been stories and whispers of a masked vigilante making the rounds throughout Gotham. Most people brush it off as if he is not real or just some ploy the cops are using to scare off criminals, that is until he shows up and beats them into submission. That is something I found very interesting in this game, which is Batman is not above brutally beating someone to get what he wants. It’s a much more brutal approach to the whole thing. I know Batman is one to punch and kick someone into spilling what they know, but it’s taken to a pretty solid degree in this installment. There is a part where you are speaking to the Riddler (and yes, he is definitely in this one, to my appropriate enjoyment) where the Riddler goes slightly off the cuff and calls Batman a brutal thug who is not smart enough to bypass the fisticuffs approach and use his brain. We all know that Batman is super intelligent and will use his brain to conquer obstacles rather than simply use his fists, but in this one, it seems like he forgets to use it sometimes. It is not to say that he is still not an amazing detective, because he is, but he seems to let his fists do the talking more so than ever. This is not to say that it is a bad thing, but it is somewhat strange compared to what we are typically used to. I enjoyed it though for the most part, because there are times when I just want to punch a thug in the face, because it is just too enjoyable to not do so.
The combat and detective moments are just as well done as they have in previous installments, but there is something new to the whole mechanic of it that really is a nice touch and provides some awesome new scenes to the whole investigate this, follow this and do this sort of routine. The new mechanic essentially lets you rewind time to see what happened at a certain crime scene. It gives Batman the ability to break down and piece together crimes that may be above most normal detectives, and gives him more detailed information that what is readily available. I fucking love this new mechanic. It really makes you feel like a true to life detective, but still feel like Batman at the same time. I know there are games out there where you are a detective, L.A. Noire for example, but this is more in the land of slight fantasy and it brings with it a more brutal approach because there are guys who are capable of more than just standard evil like you would find in more true to life situations. I know we have had some pretty awful people and some pretty awful deeds performed by real people, but when you involve guys like Black Mask, Riddler and a slew of other enhanced ability having assholes, it gets a bit more serious than real life situations. Now I know that Batman has more street level villains than most other heroes, but these guys are crazy enough that nobody else in the DCU wants them in their rogue’s gallery. It just goes to show how slightly insane yet totally sane Batman really is to try and keep these guys in line and also attempt to solve these horrible crimes. It really just makes Batman all that more of an amazing detective.
The game plays out rather similar to the previous titles, like mentioned, so you should be pretty aware of the core game system. It feels very familiar while adding a couple new things, nothing too major, a couple new gadgets and the new level up system, which is pretty awesome yet slightly confusing, make this one feel different yet at home in terms of what you have already been exposed to. So needless to say, everyone will be comfortable with the game system. Now, as for the completely new, we have the story. The story centers around Black Mask hiring a group of assassins to kill the Batman on Christmas Eve, and Batman’s attempts at thwarting whatever they are planning. You meet all of your standard Batman characters, but also you get to meet some that are new or new to Batman. This is his first encounter with Jim and Barbara Gordon, and his first encounter with the Riddler too, so it gives you some goosebumps to know that you are meeting these people for the first time in Batman’s eyes, and it makes it so awesome because you know these people and what they become, and you salivate at the encounters between them because you know the future. It’s like watching history being made right in your face. I love it. I loved experiencing it and I loved being able to see things from a first person perspective in terms of these meetings.
Now I know it may sound like I am praising the game beyond all means, but it wouldn’t be a Batman game without a couple snags or bugs here and there. Not to say it is anything game breaking, because it is not, but there are a few bugs that can break up the solid gameplay. I experienced some freezing, not of the Mr variety, some slight lagging in the cut scenes and just some standard game issues. The camera I feel is also a little too close in on Batman, and it makes it kind of difficult to see if someone is going to be attacking you from behind, but it is forgivable. It doesn’t happen enough to make it an issue, and it is just something that happens in games. There is never a way to make the camera absolutely perfect, as it is just not possible. Trust me. Even with these little bugs and nagging issues, I am still enjoying this game immensely. I love the way Gotham is presented, I enjoy how everything seems to have a sense of urgency attached to it, and I love the way things have been playing out so far in terms of the story. Now, I know I haven’t mentioned the voice actor changes for certain characters, but I don’t mind Batman’s new voice at all. I think it’s nicely done and not too raspy, although I do still kind of miss the voice we have grown to know and love. As of this moment, I am about a quarter of the way through, mainly because I have been going after all of the collectibles, to my own chagrin, but hopefully within the next week or two, I’ll have this bad boy all locked up and beaten down. Also, if you are lucky, you may get another geek’s perspective on this. Also, look out for a hidden eastern egg towards the beginning of the game with yours truly in Judge form. We all knew DC read my letter, and this just goes to show it. Here’s to you Batman, thank you for keeping the streets safe, even if I am technically the one doing so……
PS. Just a little side note that I wanted to add. You get to battle Deathstroke…..and the battle is so fucking badass that is bears mentioning. I won’t say anything, because I don’t want to deny you the excitement of when it happens, but trust me…..fuck yes!!
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