NetherRealms brings Arkham Origins to iOS and Android
Whether you have a game console, a PC, a handheld, an iOS or an Android device, there’s officially a Batman game for you this holiday season. Batman: Arkham Origins has now been announced for mobile platforms, and I had a chance to get my hands on it during the NYCC weekend. NetherRealms producer Erin Piepergerdes sat down with me for a demo of the game on an iPad.
If you’ve played either Batman: Arkham City Lockdown or Injustice mobile, then you know the basics. The game works similarly to Infinity Blade as well, popping the perspective slightly behind Batman and offering a simple fighting system for touch-based one-on-one fights. While the setting has more in common with Arkham City Lockdown, the mechanics are closer to Injustice mobile, with a block function instead of dodging mechanics.
The controls are easy to learn -- tap to throw punches, press in two spots to block, and augment that with special moves at the bottom of the screen. Get a good combo going and you may have to pull off some swipes. Batman can also switch between two stances, an aggressive stance for damage dealing, and a defensive stance to soak up less damage. Each stance has its own moves, so you may go aggro to launch a powerful attack or go defensive to heal yourself.
Bigger, damage dealing special moves feature quick minigames like tapping certain spots on the screen, swiping as fast as possible, or timing a tap moving along a meter. In addition, bosses might have their own minigames to deal with that will help you avoid more damaging attacks.
While the basic missions dealing with grunts seemed pretty straightforward, the bosses took a bit more thought. The trick in Arkham Origins mobile is that even when you block you take small amounts of damage. Turtling isn’t an option here -- you’ll have to find the right times to attack quickly, because blocking will only keep you safe for so long. Even then, you’ll want to keep upgrading your healing to stay in the fight longer.
Upgrades are a big part of the game. You’ll be able to purchase new costumes, moves, and upgrade your moves as well. All of these cost in-game currency earned through missions, but you’ll also be able to purchase currency with real money.
Yes, Arkham Origins mobile is a free-to-play game with microtransactions. Piepergerdes made a point to emphasis that monetization was more for players who wanted to cheat to get ahead, rather than a necessary evil for players that want to get through to the end. Injustice mobile was particularly guilty of this, requiring people to play dozens of hours to unlock things or pony up tons of cash. Hopefully Arkham Origins mobile will be as friendly as he insists, but I did notice a stamina bar at the top of the screen, so you’ll have to wait or pay up to play for long stretches of time.
Those unlockables will be a make or break aspect for at least the costume aspect of the game. There are some really cool, unique costumes to choose from in Arkham Origins mobile. Beyond the standard Arkham outfits, he has a Red Son outfit, a Batman Beyond suit, and more.
Missions are divided across four regions of Arkham, with heat maps displaying the crime rates in each region. Regions feature regularly rotating missions and challenges, from time attacks to boss battles, and more. Piepergerdes said the game would have hundreds of different mission types including daily challenges. Additionally, the game can connect to the console and PC versions of Arkham Origins.
I had a chance to play the game on both an iPad and iPhone, and the gameplay was fine on screens big and small. The game looked quite different in terms of graphics on the phone, but it played surprisingly well, even with less screen real estate to work with. In addition, Piepergerdes insisted that the Android version of the game would arrive sooner rather than later.
All in all, if you’ve enjoyed the previous NetherRealms mobile games, you’ll probably have fun with this one. It seems to be taking into account past mistakes in terms of Android ports and monetization, and it’s a fun mobile game to boot. In a world of mobile games that are little more than a mindless clickfest, Arkham Origins mobile offers up plenty of depth and different kind of Batman experience.
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