In Batman: Arkham Asylum you played as Batman locked in the most famous DC Comics prison fighting against thugs and ultimately The Joker. Batman: Arkham City expanded upon the formula, letting Batman roam the newly formed Arkham City freely in an open world format, with plenty of thugs, and bosses to fight. The third entry in the series, Batman: Arkham Origins is more of the same and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The name “Arkham Origins” is a misnomer. There is no real origin story being told here. You play as Batman about 2 years into his career with access to many familiar gadgets from the previous two games already at your fingertips (the bat claw, explosive gel, and remote batarangs for example) and also access to the Batwing for fast travel purposes not only around the city, but to/from the Bat Cave.
It’s hard to describe this Arkham Origins without giving away too much of the plot. The main campaign can last you about eight to ten hours depending on your play style. The plot is as follows; Black Mask has hired eight of the best assassins in the world to kill Batman on Christmas Eve. The first one to do so gets a boatload of money and all of the fame anyone could ask for. Your ultimate goal is to stop these assassins and defeat Black Mask.
This is an Arkham game however and what is an Arkham game without extras?! You will find the usual Riddler Trophy's, crimes in progress, and other various tasks to keep you busy long after you've completed the main story. Which is fun, but we just did this a few years ago in Arkham City. While the variety of things is fun, and the jam-packed villain encounters are as fun as ever, most of the missions end up being the “go here, beat up some bad guys, beat up a boss” rinse and repeat.
The other thing I noticed was the lifelessness of the streets of Gotham. This bit worked in Arkham City because it was a walled off area of Gotham that was used to house villains. The excuse this time is its Christmas Eve and there is a massive snow storm but it just feels like a cop out rather than a valid reason and detracts from the immersion.
The boss fights are where this game has really improved upon its predecessors. My main complaint with the boss fights in Asylum and City was the same-ness of each fight; Find the weakness, wait for the right moment, attack and repeat. Origins finally gives you different encounters with each fight. With new strategies and different things to try during each fight. I was blown away by some of the fight mechanics and each fight feels how a Batman encounter should feel. It’s amazing.
The new crime scene investigations mode is fun as well. Being able to reconstruct a crime scene and go over every small detail over and over again was engaging and sometimes challenging if you are looking for something specific and can't find it.
Graphically the game is stunning. Running on max PC settings, I had very few frame rate issues or screen tears. Impressive for what is essentially a console port and the music/sounds of the game are wonderfully immersive. My one complaint with how the game looks is the color scheme sometimes makes it hard to tell whether you're looking at an enemy or a trashcan. The brown on brown on black scheme has plagued games since the release of the Xbox 360. Whatever happened to colorful games?! But I digress.
The new multiplayer mode feels like it’s still in a beta phase and we're all the testers. Not too sure how I feel about the mechanics. Perhaps down the road I will write another review on the multiplayer but right now it’s too early to tell if I really enjoyed it or how it will impact the series going forward.