There were certain doubts cast for the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins when it was revealed that WB Montreal would be developing the latest adventure for the Caped Crusader rather than the stellar team at Rocksteady Studios. However, judging by our recent hands-on with the game this past week at Comic-Con, fans have nothing to worry about.
In this new adventure, Batman, at a much younger age (the game takes place before Asylum and Arkham City), finds himself butting heads with the vicious Black Mask, who has put a price on his head that has gathered the interests of every villain in the woodwork, including Deathstroke, Deadshot, Mad Hatter, Bane and the recently introduced female version of Copperhead. Needless to say, he's got his hands full.
WB Montreal hasn't changed formula so much for Origins, as much as reconfigured it to work around a new part of Gotham City. The locale itself has changed, with about the same scope that Arkham City offered, with buildings that loom well into the skyline and plenty of opportunities to use that grapple gun. The graphics are a bit unpolished here and there, but those blemishes are likely to be cleaned up once the final game releases.
When we're first introduced to the Bat, he's interrogating a poor thug, hanging him by his foot high above the nearby Gotham museum. It turns out he's looking for Black Mask as well, for reasons yet undisclosed in the game. After getting the necessary information and dropping the guy headfirst onto a Christmas tree (ouch), we're given a location and provided free reign on how to get there.
Batman can use his cape swooping ability to glide around, dive bombing to gain speed and then regaining form to continue on his merry little way. As he did in previous games, he can also dive kick his way into a group of enemies, or use his grapple gun to reach the top of buildings rather quickly. Mobility was one of the strong suits in the Batman games, and with Arkham Origins, it's no exception.
The fighting remains as seamless as ever. Batman can still successfully take on a group of thugs with very little effort, landing combination blows, countering incoming attacks (through "attention" icons that appear over their heads before they strike) and using his cape to temporarily disorient someone. It's nice to see that WB Montreal has kept most, if not all, of the fighting system intact.
As for Batman's wonderful toys, they're back and then some. He can use his grappling gun to not only get around, but also draw objects and enemies into one another as a defensive tactic. He can also use exploding gel as well as a cryptic desynthesizer, should he need to defuse a nearby bomb or activate a door to get into an otherwise unreachable area.
The floor was noisy, so we didn't get to hear Roger Craig Smith (as Batman) and Troy Baker (as Joker) do the voice acting in the game. However, the tone of the Dark Knight's storyline seems intact from what we played in the demo so far.
Batman: Arkham Origins looks like a quality addition to the series, but there isn't really too much new stuff that we've discovered just yet. However, we're likely to get hands-on with new segments of the game in the months ahead, including possible boss encounters with the likes of Deathstroke and Copperhead. We haven't seen the whole picture yet, and once it's shown, Bat-fans are likely to be thrilled.
Batman: Arkham Origins will hit stores on October 25th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U.