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COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Batman: Arkham Origins Playstation 3 Review

Updated: 10/31/2013 10:26 AM
Created: 10/31/2013 10:14 AM KSTP.com
By: Aaron Chalich

Two video games that I have really enjoyed were “Batman Arkham Asylum” and “Batman Arkham City.”  The reason I liked them so much was that they were darker, and they had a very creepy feel to them.  They also contained tons of villains and characters from the Batman comics that fans would recognize.  I also liked that you could go wherever you wanted, and the maps were huge. Plus there were tons of puzzles to solve and other little side missions to do.

This past week, I got the opportunity to play a review copy of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s “Batman Arkham Origins” for the Playstation 3, and it is an awesome game.

“Arkham Origins” is a prequel to “Arkham Asylum” and takes place a few years before the game.  It follows Batman as he first starts out as a crime fighter, and you get to see how he becomes the Dark Knight.

Batman goes to a prison break and learns that a villain named “Black Mask” is behind it.  Black Mask escapes, and Batman learns that Black Mask has hired eight of the deadliest assassins to take him out. Whoever takes him out first, gets a  $50 million reward.  Now it is up to Batman to try and stop all eight assassins before they take him out and before they hurt innocent people trying to do it.

I really liked the story a lot and thought it was great.  It was written by Dooma Wenschuh and Corey May with Geoff Johns consulting.  It was original and very exciting.  I also think it’s great that there are so many characters from the Batman comics that appear in the game, and fans are really going to be surprised by them.  The whole time I was playing “Arkham Origins,” I kept thinking about which character I was going to run into next. 

The graphics are amazing and are probably the best in my opinion out of all the Batman games so far.  The villains looked creepy and were very detailed.  I really thought the backgrounds and scenery were fabulous, and you felt like you were in Gotham City.  Every building had its own unique features, and they all were different.

There were a lot of dark colors used in the game, so you feel like you are in a dirty city especially when you are in the villain’s special hideouts and locations.  I felt uncomfortable as I was playing.

The controls are really easy to learn, and as you are playing, in-game menus will pop and show you what buttons you need to push to perform a special task, so that was nice.  It didn’t stop game play at all, and the menu would disappear after a few seconds.

Batman can do a number of different things.  He can run, jump, and use many different weapons like his batarangs and grappling gun.  He can do jump kicks and slide under areas when he is running.

One of Batman’s new weapons that he can use is a remote claw.  This is awesome because he can use it to attach it to two targets and move them together. Or if the objects are immovable, he can shoot a line across and walk on it.  This was really cool to use against enemies because you could slam two guys into each other and take them down.

Some of the other new weapons include: concussion detonator, disrupter, shock gloves, and glue grenade. 

All of Batman’s weapons are not available at the beginning of the game, and as you play, you will unlock them.  There are a lot of areas in the game that you will not be able to reach in the beginning, so you will have to go back to those areas once you have a new weapon. 

Batman is really a detective, and there is an all-new case file system that allows players to try and solve some really hard cases.  This is so awesome, because there are many areas in the game where you have to try and find an access code or try to figure out where something is and in order to do it you have to access your “detective vision.”  In this mode you can look at an area and see if there are any clues.  If you find something, you can scan it and learn about it.  If there are multiple clues in the area, you can piece them all together and have the crime play out before your eyes.  For example, at the beginning of the game, you come across a body lying on the floor.  You scan the body and learn who it is.  Then you scan the wall and learn that there was an explosion, but you don’t know where it came from.  Then you scan a keypad and get fingerprints. Then, you learn that the explosion came from the keypad on the door.  You need to get the key to open the door, so you have to rewind the crime scene and play it back.  If you watch really carefully, you will see a red line, and if you follow that, it will show you where the key landed.  I thought this was awesome and really added to the game a lot.  I felt it made the game more than just a “beat ‘em-up” game, because you have to really think and try to figure out what you need to do next.

Another cool thing with detective vision is that you can see things that you can interact with such as doors or areas that you can use explosive gel on. 

Stealth also plays a huge role in “Arkham Origins.”  You can sneak around and do stealth takedowns.  You can sneak up behind thugs or go into floor grates and then pop up and knock them out.  Two of the coolest takedowns in my opinion are the ones where you are hanging upside down from a ledge or platform and then you quickly fly down and grab a guy and then tie him up with your rope, and you leave him hanging there for other thugs to see.  The other one is whenever there is a breakable wall and there is a thug on the other side, you can quickly break through the wall grab the guy, pull him over to the other side and knock him out.

The fighting system is pretty much the same as the other “Arkham’ games, and I really like it.  You can keep attacking thugs and countering their attacks in one huge sequence, and it looks awesome.  It is possible if you do it correctly, that you can take out ten thugs at one time without stopping.  You have a combo meter that counts up from two, and it increases with each hit.  Once you stop attacking or get hit, it goes back to zero, and you have to start over.  You will get a certain amount of experience points depending on how high your combo number was.

As you gain experience points, you will unlock new abilities and weapons for Batman to use.  For example, you can increase your body armor, so you take less damage.  There are so many other upgrades that will make Batman the ultimate crime fighter.

One new feature that has been added to “Arkham Origins” is online multiplayer.  This is really fun and very addicting. 

The online game is called “Invisible Predator Online,” and it requires eight players to play.

Once the game starts, the players are separated into one of three groups.  One group is made up of Batman and Robin, another group is made up of three players, and they are in Bane’s gang . The other three players are in the Joker’s gang.  The object is to take out all of the other players.  Each gang has 25 reinforcements, and the object is to deplete all 25.  You can do that by either killing a member from the other gang or by taking over control points.  Whoever depletes all of the other opponent’s reinforcements first wins.  When the players are defeated, they will respawn and after the 25 reinforcements are used up, the players will not respawn again.  When all of the opponents in a particular gang are killed, then that gang loses.  If you also defeat Batman and Robin, then your gang wins.

One really cool thing is that both The Joker and Bane are playable in multiplayer at a certain point in the game.  They each have their own unique weapons and skills and will give the their team a huge advantage.

You will gain experience points as you are playing online, and if you get enough, your character will be upgraded. You will also gain money that can be used to buy different items.  More powerful weapons will unlock and will be available to use as you play.

The “Challenge Modes” are really fun to play and you can unlock them as you progress through story mode.  There are four types (Ranked, Campaign, Custom, and Training), and they are all very challenging.  There are a lot of different modes that you can play, and you have to try and accomplish certain tasks in each.  There are predator missions where you have to use stealth and try to take out as many thugs as you can without being detected.  Then there are modes where you fight and have to try and do a certain amount of combos.

Before you begin the challenge modes, you can choose which character you would like to use.  I had a code to unlock Deathstroke, so I could choose either Batman or Deathstroke.  Once you decide on a character, then you can choose a skin for them, and they have a few different outfits.  One of my favorites for Batman was the classic blue and gray look.  That was pretty neat.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s “Batman Arkham Origins” is awesome, and is by far the best Batman game available.  The story and graphics are amazing.  The controls are easy to learn.  I also liked how there were a ton of new characters and some of the more familiar ones in the game.  The game is packed full of surprises, and you never know what or who you will encounter next.  The online is extremely fun to play.  I know that fans of the Batman series are going to love “Arkham Origins.”

“Batman Arkham Origins” is rated “T” for blood, drug reference, language, mild suggestive themes, and violence.

Aaron Chalich is an entertainment columnist with KSTP.com.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

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