Batman: Arkham Origins Hands-On: More of the same, and that’s a good thing
After playing Batman: Arkham Origins, you’d never know Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment ditched developer Rocksteady in favor of its own Warner Bros. Games Montreal. Admittedly, I only played a very brief portion of the open-world sandbox action game, but based solely on my hands-on demo from PAX Prime, the game seems right in line with what we’ve come to expect from a Batman: Arkham game.
Simply put, Arkham Origins seems like more of the same. Combat is fast and fluid; stealth gameplay makes a return; and the graphics fall in line with the series standards. This is all to be expected, of course, as Warner Bros. Montreal is still using many of the assets used by Rocksteady on previous installments of the franchise.
My demo, while brief, provided a clear picture of what to expect when the game releases in October. The same fun we’ve had in past games with a few new gadgets that may increase the Batman experience. One such gadget is the Remote Claw which was actually shown off in a portion of the demo. I was tasked with entering a building and quietly eliminating a group of henchmen by using this gadget that allows Batman to target two objects or enemies and pull them together; using this new tool I was able to quickly and quietly render enemies unconscious by knocking them together.
Prior to this, I was also slightly introduced to the game’s open-world nature. While heading to my target objective, I was notified of a “Crime in Progress” side mission. During this, Batman can assist the Gotham City Police Department by preventing the crime. In my side mission, I simply had to beat down a group of thugs robbing a store. When successful I was rewarded with reputation.
It seems like Warner Bros. is taking a conservative approach when it comes to Arkham Origins. The hook isn’t necessarily a change in gameplay (if it ain’t broke why fix it?) but rather a change in time. Arkham Origins is setup as a prequel to the other installments, taking place approximately five years before Arkham Asylum. Batman, in his second year of crime fighting, is still raw and inexperienced; police are still unsure which side of the line he’s on. And on top of all that, Batman is being hunted by eight professional assassins hired by the infamous crime lord Black Mask. It seems to be an intriguing setup that is bolstered by the same great gameplay we’ve been spoiled with by Rocksteady’s entries.