Batman: Arkham Origins is very much more of the same. But, you see, that’s a very good thing.
The previous Arkham games have been very good. Very, very good. Arkham Asylum perfectly mastered the linear superhero game. Arkham City took the same formula and applied it to an open world, with equally good results. Origins, despite not being made by Rocksteady, is continuing this tradition of improvement and refinement. And it feels good.
The first thing you notice is that the open world is much, much larger than before. There’s a real sense of scale, particularly in Modern Gotham where the skyscrapers make you feel fairly insignificant. Unfortunately, I couldn’t actually grapple up any of the massive buildings in the demo, but I’m hoping that doesn’t carry over the final game.
As you’re gliding around the humongous city, you’ll inevitably stumble upon criminals lingering around on the rooftops below you. Sometimes they’ll be committing a crime, and it’s your job as Batman to swoop in and save the day. These random crime events seem like a fun way to keep you occupied whilst you traverse Gotham, as well as being a great opportunity to lead you into side quests. Some of these will introduce lesser known villains such as Anarky: a feature that will most certainly appeal to the diehard Batman fans out there.
Of course, to stop a crime you have to engage in combat. This is where I was most worried: the previous Arkham games had perfect combat, and I was concerned that WB Montreal would mess with that. Thankfully, they didn’t. The combat is just as tight as ever, and I even got a sense that it was more brutal than before, giving you a sense of an unrefined, angry and violent Batman. You really get to experience this when you fight against the martial artists, a new mob type that are easily Batman’s equals. They can counter your attacks, adding some variety to the combat whilst also reinforcing the idea that this Batman isn’t quite as experienced. The more I played Origins, the more I realised that making it a prequel was a superbly good idea.
I also experienced a predator challenge room, which are very much the same as before. The new Remote Claw added a nice twist, letting you string up enemies in a variety of amusing ways, but the rest of the stealth mechanics are the same as ever. Again, this isn’t a bad thing.
The demo ended with a short scene from the Joker, who’s now voiced by the phenomenally good Troy Baker. He has everything spot on, ranging from the sing-song speech patterns to the cackling laugh. It sent shivers down my spine, and I left the demo thinking only one thing: I need this game.