Taking place five years before the events of Arkham Asylum, Origins brings us back to where it all began. We experience life as a young Batman, and meet the villains that call Gotham home. Is Origins of the same caliber we’ve come to expect from the series, or is this one bat that should have stayed in the belfry?
Gotham City is a very different place since Batman showed up 2 years ago. He has been labeled a vigilante by police, and a monster by criminals. He currently has no alliance with anyone – not even Gordon – but believes he can handle anything waiting to be thrown at him. Ostensibly, he has no regard for his personal safety.
Batman: Arkham Origins unfolds the story of a young Batman, leading us to understand why he chose to work with Gordon, and why he’s decided to devote himself to saving Gotham. With new threats on the horizon, that devotion only intensifies.
Origins features new villains and old favorites alike, many of whom encounter Batman for the first time. Because of this, old villains that sport names we recognize might not be quite as recognizable in this game. City-wise, expect a landmass increase of about 2x over that in Arkham City. Another perk: This time, you don’t take the role of another character to tell the main story.
Origins is a near clone of the previous games as far as gameplay and gadgets go; instead of an ice-nade, you have a glue-nade, which fulfills much the same function. A big change to this game though is that to obtain all of the gadgets, three separate combo ladders must be completed throughout gameplay.
On the topic of combo ladders, expect some extreme pickiness here. They seem easy, as they tell you exactly what to do, however there were times when I was trying for a combo and successfully completed it, but the game didn’t mark it as successful. This could have been because the game only counts certain events while Batman is using predatory tactics, where you can take people out through stealth actions. The problem is that it never actually tells you when you’re in such an event. This discouraged me entirely from trying to fill these ladders, and I suspect it will do the same for others.
The story has been one of the best reasons for someone to play the Arkham games, and this one does not disappoint in the least. There were a few set pieces that made me question why the people of Gotham City are so blind and dumb, and there were also some obvious plot points, but they were told in an interesting way so that it didn’t feel cheap.
The original Batman: Arkham Asylum took players by massive surprise not just for the gameplay and story, but also because the PC had the great fortune of supporting PhsyX from NVIDIA. This was first game that truly took full advantage of this new hardware technology, and not to mention 3D Vision as well. Arkham City was no different; it was at the forefront of even more impressive technology: Tessellation.
This time, Arkham Origins brings to the PC table much more than the previous two titles: PhsyX, tessellation, FXAA, TXAA, HBAO+, and depth-of-field (DOF). I personally had all of these enabled and the game ran flawlessly; there is a hitch with the NVIDIA DOF however: When I would get a final blow close-up or use the cryptographic scanner, my FPS would drop like a stone to single digits.
I am running this game at 5760×1080 with 2x GeForce GTX 580 in SLI, so this shouldn’t have happened. After changing it back to normal DOF, the problem went away. There was however a visual bug that I ran into that made it impossible to complete the game. Near the end, a certain section dropped my FPS down to 2~7, even when using the latest driver from NVIDIA.
The unfortunate thing is that this bug is similar to one PC players experienced with Batman: Arkham City that again made it impossible to play. This was mainly isolated to the DX11 features but in some cases, including myself, DX9 ran just as poor.
Another game-stopping bug I encountered happened when I was trying to reactivate a radio tower in the Diamond District; I couldn’t climb up into the vent to go further. At first I thought this was another anti-piracy bug, like in Arkham Asylum, but then I found out that the PC isn’t the only platform plagued with progress-halting bugs and other performance problems.
I have read posts on the WB forum from people using consoles that say they’re losing their save files, and areas that were accessible to me on the PC weren’t for them. This is rather disappointing and makes this reviewer a little unhappy that Warner Bros. didn’t catch these bugs before release, especially after what happened in the previous game.
On a lighter note, the voice actors in Origins for both Batman and the Joker have been replaced by new talent Roger Smith (Batman) and Troy Baker (Joker). Both do an excellent job playing these characters with their definitive flair that we’ve come to know and love.
In the end: Batman: Arkham Origins is a game that tells a fun and interesting story, even if the plot is obvious. The technical issues however make this game an uncertain beast and I believe it is just best to wait for Warner Bros. to get its act together and fix what is an obviously an unpolished game at best.
For a dose of extra screenshots, hit-up the next page.