Holy Repetitive Combat, Batman: My Weekend With ‘Batman: Arkham Origins’

October 27th, 2013 // 30 Comments
Batman: Arkham Origins

I really wanted Batman: Arkham Origins to be awesome. In fact, I spent more way time with this game than I did for my first impressions of Grand Theft Auto V and Bioshock Infinite just to give it a chance to open up and give me something, anything, besides the feeling of “This is it?” Which it didn’t. So before I start throwing Dickjoke-arangs at Chris Brown and rich people’s stupid Halloween costumes, let’s take a quick look at what I thought went wrong with Arkham Origins, a few things that went right, and why you absolutely cannot settle for good enough on the heels of a GTA release. *fires up Asshole-Opinionator*

What Arkham Origins Did Right:

Marketing: I’ll give WB Montreal this, they make some goddamn amazing trailers. Case in point: I already know exactly what Arkham Origins is like, yet I still watched this and went, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”

Cutscenes: The cutscenes are phenomenal at putting you right in the action, practically on Batman’s shoulder, and setting a tone, albeit one that completely evaporates as soon the gameplay returns. During the opening sequence, I sat there going, “Fuck yeah, Batman!” and then a minute later I’m going, “So I’m just hitting the square button then? Goddammit…”

Deathstroke: By the time I got to Deathstroke, I was already bored to tears with the combat which I’ll whine about later. Fortunately, this fight was perfectly executed before I packed it in. It expertly captures a raw, just-starting out Batman who’s over-compensating for inexperience with brutality, and has to learn on the fly to anticipate his enemy’s move. Apparently, some people hate this fight because “wah, it’s too hard,” but I honestly don’t consider myself a person with any type of serious gaming skills whatsoever, and I beat it within four tries on Normal. Shit, I had a harder time just getting on The Penguin’s boat without getting my bat-dick shot off.

The Setting: Not Gotham itself – Haha, hell no. – but the snowy, Christmas Eve backdrop was a well-planned move for a late October release. It doesn’t seem like much of a touch, especially if you live in a freakish, non-season-changing location, but it adds a sense of urgency as you’re battling the goddamn winter to monotonously button mash your way to Christmas morning.

What Arkham Origins Did Wrong

The Button Mashing: When I plunk $60 on a AAA video game title, I don’t want to be only two hours in and bored to shit of the combat already. Combat that’s repetitively served up over and over again with little variation and all over the goddamn map. As you first start to zip around Gotham, which is sizable yet also repetitive to travail, you’ll notice you have the ability to jump into crimes in progress, defuse Anarky bombs, or just land on different roofs. All of which are loaded with the same gaggle of thugs with the exact same combat. Button mash, button mash, counter, button mash, button mash, counter, slow motion shot of Batman taking out last thug. This is the setup for way too many scenarios, peppered with hanging from gargoyles and glide kicking down to take out a thug, then grappeling back up to rinse and repeat. Keep in mind, I’ve only played Arkham Asylum when it first came out four years ago, and completely skipped Arkham City (I actually have a copy, just got sidetracked.), yet I still felt like I wasn’t breaking any new ground here.

Gotham: Like I mentioned before, travailing around Gotham gets old real quick. You’re basically gliding, batclawing, gliding some more, all with some pretty boring animation. On top of that, there’s very little variation on the street except for gang of thugs after gang of thugs at every fucking turn. If Gotham was literally this loaded with criminals, Batman would be dead within five minutes. He couldn’t even stop to bat-whiz off a building without eight crooks throwing knives at his pee-pee. And you really can’t get this monotonous on the heels of a title like GTA V which is a years-in-the-making, open world where just when you think you’re doing the same old shit, the game waves its dick in your face, and on that dick is a tank that fires a rocket into your expectations. (Looking at you, The Paleto Score.) Whereas Arkham Origins is a boring gray soup with some fantastic cutscenes that dump you right back into that soup.

The Bioshock Comparisons: A lot of the atmosphere, music, and set designs are very reminiscent of Bioshock Infinite which is really something this game should’ve avoided at all costs. Because where Bioshock Infinite has a painstakingly crafted narrative where hunting down extras like the Voxophone immediately serves up well-written audio recordings that expands and pulls you deeper into a story with a cunniling-your-brain ending, Arkham Origins lacks almost all of that depth and has you hunting trinkets just to mark off a checkbox. (But did I start trying to find those trinkets? Yes, because I’m a gerbil.)

The Bottom Line

This whole write-up is why I’ll never get, or want to get, advance copies of games because I’d feel like I need to sugarcoat things to maintain that access. Which is why I can feel comfortable saying, point blank, Batman: Arkham Origins is not a great game. It’s not bad, per se, but again, releasing just weeks after GTA V did it absolutely zero favors because talk about a game where you felt like you’re getting your $60 worth thanks to an insanely rich experience. Then again, without GTA to compare it to, I would still be bored as balls with the repetitive nature of Arkham‘s combat, and I felt that way in under two hours before even finding out the open world is a buttload more of it. I liked the impetus behind the plot, and the younger Batman aspect, but there’s no way I could sit here and tell somebody this is a title they need to have today. Maybe at a much lower price? I don’t know. It all depends on how okay you are with spending your time slogging through non-inspiring gameplay to get some admittedly sweet cutscenes. That said, if you are looking for a decent Batman game with a surprisingly fun experience, definitely give Injustice Gods Among Us a whirl. It was allowed an insane amount of freedom to craft a world that pits Batman against a disenfranchised and twistedly-broken-by-the-Joker Superman. Plus Wonder Woman’s tits are just ridiculous. I almost needed a bigger television.

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Photo: WB Montreal

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  1. Cock Dr

    Perhaps there was some sort of advertising compensation involved here. That would be entirely fair if an entire autumn weekend was spent locked in a basement in front of a screen and the blogger’s comments are honest.
    I hope the blogger’s girlfriend is a gamer.

  2. This game looks AWESOME!! The reviews (yours included) have been positive. If it is as good as Arkham City, I will wait until next year to buy my wife her birthday present.

  3. Dox

    Having played Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, I noticed a dismaying trend in those two games. The evolution of the combat system was pretty much non-existant. While I finished Asylum, I never did bother to finish City.. mostly because midway through the game, it got so repetitive it made me want to choke a rabbit…. (run with that however you want.)

    I bring this up, because Origins seems very much like it was going to be the same thing. No innovations, nothing but more of the exact same. Sadly, I found I was right. It became apparent within the first 30 minutes of actual gameplay, that this was more or less the same thing I did through both the previous games.

    While for some that may be entertaining, and good news, at a price tag of 50 bucks on Steam, it failed to excite me in any fashion. (Again, run with that however you want.)

    At any rate, I stopped playing. Went outside. Noticed a huge ball of fire in the sky… called the police…

    Turns out it was something called the sun.

    Imagine that.

  4. anonymous

    Been playing the game for a few hours today. Boy did they dumb down Croc Killer (who was my favorite villain in Arkham Asylum). Even the way the artists rendered him sucked.

    It’s pretty much Arkham City without all the destruction throughout the city. The “upgrades” are now VERY linear.

  5. daffu

    You mentioned that you have Arkham Asylum, but what did you think of that game?

    • I really liked Arkham Asylum because it was the first game that really nailed being Batman down to the Hans Zimmer-esque violin score. The combat did get a tad repetitive, but it was such a new, refreshing experience and had Kevin Conroy voicing Batman, so it also worked on a nostalgic level. If I played it now though, I’m not sure I’d be that in love with it again.

      If you’ve played none of the series, the consensus seems to be just jump in with Arkham City. If anyone wants to recommend against that, go nuts.

      • daffu

        Okay, was just curious in your initial impressions. I don’t think Arkham City and Aarkham Origins broke any new grounds, but fall into the “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” category. Then again I played through Arkham Asylum and Arkham City so many times they could just re-release Arkham City again and I would lap it up. Wait a second…

        I think you should go back and give Arkham City a whirl. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammil were still involved at that point, which for some hardcore fans is enough of a selling point.

      • daffu

        Also, I disagree with jumping in with Arkham City. These games are more story driven, and Asylum was so much better in that aspect. It also nailed the Metroid vibe of backtracking without getting you too lost as a collect-a-thon like Arkham City did. The boss battles are the only parts of the game that consistently improved.

  6. Valentino

    Sweet, thanks for the review. Even though you just confirmed what I expected, feels good to know others tried it out.

  7. Too bad, loved both of its predecessors.

  8. Guff

    It’d be awesome if you got back to celebrity gossip. I don’t go to Gamespot to get the weather.

  9. Guff

    (In the same way I don’t come here to get game reviews).

    • This may come as a shock to you, but I’m not your mommy, so I don’t give a fuck what you want. Here’s what I wrote about on my site, and if you don’t like it, close the tab.

      Or whine like a spoiled brat. It’s a free country.

      • Way to go, Fish. You nailed that motherfucker. There have been many times in which you have let belly-aching particles of fecal matter get by with blasphemy. Nice to see you grill one this time.

      • Guff

        What a Renaissance Man you are, Fish: tits, games, and being a little bitch.

    • Pat C.

      Seriously, skip the stuff you don’t care about, and look at the stuff you do care about. Simple as that.

  10. It’s been disappointing. I’m kicking myself over the pre-order thing since I don’t usually do that. Considering the fun I squeezed out of the first two, especially City, I thought I might get value out of this one too. The combat seems nowhere near as smooth as the last games, so I doubt it.

    I have often thought when a story moves to the prequel stage, it’s because they don’t actually know how to move things forward. Maybe they should have talked to Paul Dini again, or grabbed Scott Snyder to help out since his Zero Year storyline has been pretty fun on Batman.

  11. Wolf Blitzer

    How is that any different from any other Arkham game? You button mash to advance the story and get to bosses. I guess if you’re all about the gameplay it’d be a pain, but I think a lot of people don’t mind playing just to watch the story.

    • If that’s someone’s bag – And there’s nothing wrong with that. To each his own. – then this game is a triumph because it’s monotonous gameplay interspersed with sickass cutscenes.

  12. Deacon Jones

    Ive noticed a trend lately that the developers are more worried about putting together elaborate cut scenes than the actual gameplay…I only really like online, sandbox games anymore with the exception of “Last of Us”. Bioshock Infinite kind of fizzled out about 3/4 of the way into it

    Picking up BF4 when it comes out. Goodbye raking leaves!

  13. I’ll check it out on Gamefly eventually… maybe. But yeah, I expected this. Arkham City was a whole lot of “Wow, they didn’t change much, did they?” The trend continues.

  14. I’m just sick of the Joker. Batman has an entire Rogues Gallery of interesting, twisted villains, but every game has to pander to the fanboys and suck the clown’s dick.

    ARKHAM CITY SPOILERS:

    I was excited as hell when I started Arkham City to find out that Hugo Strange was apparently the main villain. Then, when he gets dispatched early on, the game let me think Ra’s al Ghul was going to be the Big Bad, and I was even more excited, but no. It’s the goddamn Joker. Again. Some more.

    • lamia

      This annoyed me as well, why not just make the villain black mask like they were going too instead of back peddling to the joker again!

  15. So apparently neither Hollywood nor the ginormous Video Gaming Industrial Complex with its billions of cash have the ability to get a prequel right. I’ve been wanting to jump into the this Batman series but never had the chance. Maybe I’ll give Arkham City a visit per the comments above. Thanks for the honest review Mr. The Superficial.

  16. MD

    I’m not sure what game you played, but I loved it. Yes it’s very much in the same vein of it’s predecessors but to me that’s what makes it so great. It’s a minor stepback from the previous 2, but I’d give it a solid 8.5/10.

  17. anonym

    all the batman games are the same shit with a different name.

    they really know how to milk the customer dry

  18. Laredo

    Conroy said not long ago that a new sequel is on the way with him as Bats. And Rocksteady is making it – the creators of the first two Arkham-games -, not lame ass WB.

  19. That top illustration of Bat-Guano…I mean Batman…if incredibly cool and would make a great tattoo if one could find the right artist.

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