Batman: Arkham Origins Review (PS3)

(image courtesy of thedailyzombies.com)

(image courtesy of thedailyzombies.com)

Developed by Warner Bros. Games Montreal and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment this is the first of the Arkham games that is not developed by Rocksteady Studios.  Rocksteady was kind enough though to practically hand over the engine to Warner Bros. in order for them to bring us this solid prequel.  It was written by Corey May (the same guy who was lead writer on Assassins Creed, Assassins Creed 2 and Assassins Creed 3) and Dooma Wendschuh.

Unfortunately Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill don’t return for this adventure but their replacements do just as well.  Troy Baker, most notable now for his work on the Last of Us as Joel voices the Joker and manages to grasp the “Hamill effect” so well, especially in the laughter.  There are a few moments where you can hear where it isn’t Mark Hamill but you really have to be listening for it then.  Following in the very big shadow of Kevin Conroy comes Roger Craig Smith, the most well known voice actor in the Assassins Creed series for his charismatic accent of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze.  Unfortunately for him, as good as he is, I don’t think anybody can match up to the voice of Kevin Conroy but he does good enough so kudos to you.

Batman:  Arkham Origins is set five years prior to the events of Arkham Asylum and two years into Bruce’s career as Batman.  He’s been fighting thugs, drug dealers and the occasional super villain but this is mainly about how he meets the people who have had a profound impact on his life and his career as Batman.  In origins, Batman is still new and everybody is trying to figure out what his motives are.  The cops don’t like him especially Gordon, and the bad guys feel that he is some form of supernatural force to be reckoned with.  Batman at this point is also used to being faster and stronger than his opponents so they really explore how he has to try and overcome an impossible situation for which he has never encountered.  Fighting eight of the worlds worst villains is no easy task.  A fight with Bane springs to mind but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.  It’s a really interesting take on the history of our hero, really putting into perspective why he does what he does on a much more profound level.    The first encounter between Batman and Joker is most enjoyable and for the first time I clearly see why the Joker is so obsessed with Batman.  There is a small mini mission where you get to play as Joker and it was excellent.  I actually started to empathize with him and thanks to that moment I understand clearly how and why the Joker is who he is.

First off the game play is just as it was in Arkham City BUT and this might just be me, something is different about the way the free flow combat works.  Either they’ve slowed Batman down which would make sense in a way considering this is a prequel (or maybe it wouldn’t because it’s a prequel) or the AI is much faster.  I found myself getting seriously stuffed up in some places by a bunch of petty thugs.  Questioning my own skill, I popped back into Arkham City and yup, somethings definitely changed in Origins.  Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just different.  It keeps you on your toes, and adds a nice level of pressure to the mix.  They’ve thrown in two new enemies as well which is quite welcome.  Ninjas have the ability to counter your moves which really is fun and you still feel like a bad ass when you counter a counter that’s been countered.  It’s not confusing, trust me.  The other is just a glorified armored henchman so no change there.  The AI in here is way more aggressive and has easier access to firearms as well.  Nearly every battle I was in, I had to dance around like a batty ballerina to take the guys with guns out.  Also, if you enjoyed gliding around in Arkham City, then Origins has got you covered.  The map in here is huge.  The northern part of the map is primarily Arkham City, but it’s now connected by Pioneers Bridge that runs from New Gotham City in the south.  It is enormous for this type of game but it can get tedious especially when you have to fly backwards and forwards over the bridge time and time again.  Luckily that’s where the new fast travel system comes into play.  All over the city there are fast travel points which need to be unlocked first before you can use them so you can get around the city much quicker.   As with every Arkham game it isn’t just the main story you will be sinking your teeth into but all the little side quests as well.  You have Engima Data Packs  to collect all over the city in order to stop The Riddler who is known in this game as Enigma as Batman had never heard of him before.  The one thing that did bother me with regards to the side quests is that they felt like secondary side quests when compared to Batman:  Arkham City.  In Batman:  AC the side quests were organically interwoven into the story but in Origins it’s just a second thought kind of thing.  There to keep you busy.

Challenge Maps make their return and with it , a whole new steep learning curve.  I couldn’t even complete the first combat map because I couldn’t get my points high enough due to the fact that I kept killing everyone way to quickly which is annoying and does not make me feel like Batman.

Visually, the game is Arkham City, no more no less really but unfortunately it’s not as good due to technical problems and here’s why:

Batman:  Arkham Origins is full of bugs.  It has a day one patch as most games now days do which is highly annoying but that’s a story for another day.  It also took forever to install the 57mb patch.  (Why would that take so long?) Some textures on buildings don’t fully render, NPC’s get stuck on objects when  you’re in combat and that becomes irritating when you can’t keep your combo going because some dumb ass henchman is stuck by a car.  (NOT COOL WARNER. BROS).  Sometimes, depending on where you are, NPC’s can’t attack you and you can’t attack them because their bodies get stuck between the earth and the eternal blackness under the earth which can cause a quest not to activate.

That's got to be seriously uncomfortable

That’s got to be seriously uncomfortable (FYI, they couldn’t attack me.  They just kept following me around)

Yeah, you might see half a henchman following you around.  The frame rates are terrible at times, sometimes game breaking especially after Fast Traveling.  My PS3 has crashed numerous times thanks to this so right now, don’t fast travel.  The longer I played as well the worse the frame rates got which truly ruined the experience.  At the time of writing though, Warner Bros. is working on these issues for all platforms and they are hoping to have a patch sometimes this week.  I wouldn’t hold my breath on the frame rate problem though.  My question on that particular point  is, how is a game released if it has these kinds of issues?  Surely there’s quality testing, stress testing, etc , etc.

You know when you lend something to a friend, like a video game, a DVD, hell, even a toasted sandwich maker. Your friends will keep it for a couple of months saying the game is fantastic, the film is awesome, it makes the best toasties ever! Then, you eventually get it back.  And you find that your item that you loaned, out of trust I might add has been soiled.  Your video game and DVD disc has a few light scratches now, maybe even a deep enough scratch that makes the film or game unwatchable or unplayable.  I personally believe that Rocksteady should never lend its toys out ever again.  That popular saying from the X-files comes to mind.  “Trust no one”  That’s how I felt when these annoying problems crept up.

Technical issues aside I would still buy this game because it’s a solid story and plays great when the frame rates and other little bugs don’t present themselves.  I’m sure most of these problems will be sorted out in the coming weeks. Maybe get the game after the patch but whatever you decide, Batman:  Arkham Origins is a fitting beginning story to the whole Arkham series and if you’re a fan, you won’t be disappointed by the story that it tells.

Batman:  Arkham City Review (PS3)

 

Batman Arkham City: A Journey (Part 5) – Harley Quinn’s Revenge

harley quinns revengeHarley Quinn’s Revenge was the last DLC pack to be released for Batman:  Arkham City and expands on the story following the events of the single player campaign.  In order to complete Batman:  Arkham City to 100% i had to finish this DLC as well.

On the home stretch baby….

The trophies in this DLC are no where near as hard as one might expect. I was able to obtain everything within an hour and a half of starting this DLC.  There are three silver trophies and seven bronze to collect.

Story Mode Trophies:  These are trophies that you will get just for simply playing the game and completing objectives so no real thought is necessary for this list.  

Lost Property                     (Bronze)

Breaking and Entering       (Bronze)

Hows it Hanging?              (Silver)

The Last Laugh.                (Silver)

OK, now we get to the nitty gritty of it all.  The rest of the trophies are this.  I will list them out and underneath each one i will tell you what I did in order to obtain these.

Frequent Flyer:  Zip Kick five different thugs (Bronze) (as Robin)

This is not hard at all.  I read so many other guides after I got this trophy and people were giving tips that the best place to do this is at a certain part in a stage.  I’m here to say bull shit.  You don’t have to do that.  When you start to play as Robin Just Zip Kick every enemy you see except not the armored ones and this trophy will unlock eventually.  I got this within fifteen minutes of playing.  So not difficult.

Battering Ram:  Shield Bash five different thugs (Bronze) (as Robin)

Again, not hard at all.  I used exactly the same strategy as i used for Frequent Flyer.  After i received the Frequent Flyer trophy, i then proceeded to Shield Bash every enemy I could except for the armored ones.  It’s as easy as that.

Snap to it:  Snap Flash an unarmed thug, an armed thug, an environmental object and a Titan (Bronze) (as Robin)

As the description states you need to snap flash the different types of enemies listed above in order to unlock this trophy.  Exceptionally easy.  You don’t have to have a combo built up or anything.  The environmental object sounds confusing but it really isn’t .  There is a part where you have to take out a sniper.  At this section of the game there are bunch of hooks on a belt that are moving behind that sniper.  Place a snap flash on one of the hooks and then detonate it.  Alternatively you can wait until you get to the section where you have to take out Harley Quinn in a predator type scenario.  There is a hook just over a balcony where Harley will eventually get to.  You can also place a snap flash there.   It doesn’t have to take any enemy out.  Snap flash the Titan in the final battle with Robin and you’ve got your bronze.

Bomb Squad:  Defuse all bombs in three minutes or less (Bronze) (as Batman)

It’s an easy trophy but the execution might be tough.  One you play as Batman again you will have to disarm three bombs that are scattered around the level.  I found this to be the most challenging of them all mainly because it doesn’t give you exact coordinates of the bombs.  Just like in the single player campaign when it came to following signals, you would have to follow the signal and run around the stage.   There will be a HUD on the right of the screen to tell you how far or close you are to the bomb in the general vicinity.

A Few New Tricks:  Use 5 different Quickfire gadgets in one fight as Robin in Harley Quinn’s Revenge (Bronze) (as Robin)

Also a very easy trophy.  Just use the five different quick fire gadgets in one fight and you’re golden….err, Bronze.  No where near as difficult as it was for the similar Batman trophy.

Party’s Over:  Destroy all Harley Balloons (Bronze) (as Robin and Batman)

This was the most tedious, just like it was when you had to destroy the Tyger security cameras in the single player campaign.  Harley’s balloons are scattered outside the steel mill as well as inside.  So keep your eyes open.  There are 30 balloons in total to destroy.

The DLC as a whole is a little underwhelming and didn’t have the greatest ending but it was still fun to play none the less.

That’s it.  After everything i finally have my 100% completion.  Thanks for sticking with me through this five part series.  I hope you had as much fun reading it as i did writing it.  In case you missed it you can catch up on the full adventure by checking out the other parts to this series.

Batman Arkham City:  A Journey (Part 1) – Platinum

Batman Arkham City:  A Journey (Part 2) – Campaign Kitty

Batman Arkham City:  A Journey (Part 3) – Campaign Wonder

Batman Arkham City:  A Journey (Part 4) – Campaign Nightwing