Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Up until the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, games based upon Batman have been a little hit and miss. Though there have been some great ones, for the most part they have been forgettable and competent at best. Then Arkham Asylum happened.

With the absolutely incredible powerhouse that was Urban Chaos: Riot Response for the PS2 already under their belt, Rocksteady Studios created a near masterpiece with Arkham Asylum, and set the bar high for whatever came next. Then, 3 years later, they outdid themselves with it's sequel, Arkham City but recently there have been two additions to this Arkham franchise, both of which were sadly not developed by Rocksteady Studios, and it shows.

First came Batman: Arkham Origins, an origin story set before the last two games, which depicts Batman near the beginning of his crime-fighting career. While it impressed as an imitation of the previous two games, it was… well, bad. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a direct sequel to Origins, and scales down the familiar action for portable devices. However, this scale down may be a little too much for some.

Taking place directly after Origins, Blackgate places the player in Blackgate Penitentiary, a prison that while nowhere near as bad as Arkham Asylum as far as deranged maniacs go, is not very welcoming to the caped crusader. Featuring classic characters such as Catwoman, The Joker, Black Mask, Deadshot, The Penguin and James Gordon, Blackgate remains true to the series in terms of presentation and cast.

The cut-scenes are nicely animated in 2D art, and in many ways stays close to the origins of the source material. The gameplay, seeing as it is a portable take on the series, isn't as in-depth as you've come to expect. Instead, everything happens on a somewhat 2D plane created entirely in 3D visuals and this is where the problems arise, sadly.

The hallmark of an Arkham game has always been the fluid, intuitive and fierce combat. For the most part that is all here, however, because it all takes place on a restricted play area, it all feels very confined, slowed down, bastardized and frankly a little dull. It takes away the freedom the series offered before, and that kind of kills it. That said, there is fun to be had; all the typical fun Batman gadgets are here, which are always a joy to use, and the boss fights can be quite entertaining.

Visually it's lacking though. If the 3DS version wasn't holding it back, the PS Vita version could have easily used a free roam camera similar to what we've seen in the series before. Sadly not, and this results in a game that isn't that much better looking than a polished PSP title. Batman’s cape flows nice though. That a plus... right?

Overall Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is two things; a mouthful of a title to say, and a disappointment for anyone who is expecting another great Arkham game. It's not. It's just so-so, and that isn't good enough for a series that started off so strongly.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate hangs up its cape with a 4/10

Denis Murphy

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate at CeX

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