Batman: Arkham Origins ReviewClayMeow - November 19, 2013
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Batman: Arkham Origins
While the enemy encounters are certainly enjoyable, it's the story that'll keep you coming back for more. Whereas I felt the story in Arkham City was slightly worse than the story in Arkham Asylum, I feel that Origins is the best one yet. While I stick by what I said earlier – that the main story is basically an excuse to throw a bunch of villains at Batman – WB surrounded it with a mostly cohesive and highly interesting tale with twists and turns and plenty of side stories. If you have any knowledge of the Batman universe at all, whether it be from comic books, movies, television, or the previous video games, seeing how Batman's relationships with both allies and adversaries develop for the first time is a real treat.
Don't worry, unless you've completely avoided what characters are present in the game, I will keep this spoiler-free. Suffice it to say that there are many memorable moments and twists and turns I wish I could tell you about, but I won't!
One of Batman's most famous relationships is obviously The Joker, and that is portrayed to near perfection in Origins. Seeing Batman's first interaction with Joker and how the bond between the two materializes is certainly one of the highlights of the game. It's no doubt helped by a perfect voice acting job done by Troy Baker, despite the controversy that initially surrounded his casting. Troy Baker is a huge voice actor in the industry – with credits way too long to list here – but fans of the series were upset when it was announced he was to replace Mark Hamill as the voice of Joker. I'm here to tell you, there's nothing to worry about. In fact, I think Baker deserves an apology from everyone that bitched and moaned. Voice acting for all characters has always been a strength of the franchise, and it's no different here.
While there are no boss battles that quite live up to the awesomeness of the Mr. Freeze boss battle in Arkham City (if you played it, you know what I'm talking about), overall the boss battles are a huge improvement over the previous games. Most of them are combat encounters with slight twists, but they're typically multi-tiered and truly test your skills. When I mentioned that the combat in Origins feels tougher than previous games, that extends to most of the boss battles as well, particularly the highly anticipated Deathstroke battle. I think I beat him on my third or fourth try. That's probably why there's an achievement for successfully countering all his attacks, which only 1.2% have achieved on Steam compared to 66.1% that have beat him, as of the time of this writing.
Bane, Copperhead, and Firefly are all standout battles as well, while the Deadshot boss battle is, smartly, a Predator Arena instead. Most of the boss encounters offer their own unique stories to go along with the overarching bounty plot and it's interesting seeing relationships develop between them and Batman, particularly with Bane, who has appeared in both of the previous games. There are also some appearances by other adversaries, like Penguin, Anarky, and even the Mad Hatter.
Aside from exploring these relationships, the game also makes you think about several underlying themes that have always been prevalent in the Batman universe. Is Gotham City truly better off with Batman there or is he the one attracting these psychos? Clearly the eight assassins came to Gotham to hunt Batman, so is he not putting the whole city at risk? The story even touches upon one of the aspects that makes Batman a so-called "good guy" – he never intentionally kills anyone. As in the previous games, every enemy Batman takes out is simply knocked unconscious. Is that one of Batman's strengths or his biggest weakness? Would Gotham not be better off if, for example, he killed The Joker? Clearly the events of the previous two games would have never taken place and many innocent lives would be spared.