Format reviewed: PS3
Other formats available: Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
Developer: Warner Bros Games
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive
It's Christmas Eve in Gotham and Batman is doing the rounds. The Caped Crusader isn't handing out presents though, he's handing out justice.
Arkham Origins is the latest game in the current Batman franchise. It follows on from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and is set five years before the events of Arkham Asylum. The premise is that crime lord Black Mask has put a bounty (money, not the chocolate bar) on Batman's head. This then draws out eight of Gotham' nastiest villains who each want to have a pop at the Dark Knight.
In gaming terms, what this means is that through the course of the game you have a series of boss battles. This is the main issue with the game. The first boss you meet, the Electrocutioner is stupidly easy to beat. He's so easy you think that he's faking death when in actual fact you beat him with one attack. You progress a little further and then meet another boss, Deathstroke.
Where the Electrocutioner was ridiculously easy, Deathstroke is equally, stupidly hard. Deathstroke should become a byword for why boss battles in games are a shortcut to good, engaging gaming in the same way as Oscar Wilde said that clichés are a shortcut to thinking.
They are a legacy to the days when game developers wanted to extend the lifespan of their games and are so out of date they should be banned.
In order to defeat Deathstroke you can't really attack him. Yes that's right and is as ridiculous as it sounds. The reason for this is because when you do attack him it triggers the game to launch attacks that simply can't be blocked. As this follows on from other battles where you are encouraged to block and then counter, it just makes a mockery of the game.
In order to beat Deathstroke you simply have to gradually wear him down by ensnaring him with the bat grapple, hitting him and backing off. Then, once you have worn down his massive health bar by a few millimetres it triggers a QTE sequence where you have to block him repeatedly before you get the opportunity to hit back.
If this doesn't sound tedious enough, after the first round of button bashing he pulls out a long staff, you only have your fists, and after that he brings a sword to a fist fight. Not very fair.
Up until this point the game was enjoyable, and after 476 attempts at beating Deathstroke (we did it eventually despite wanting to set fire to the disc in frustration and anger) it became fun again.
That said it is a bit of a one-trick pony in that you basically swing around Gotham like a goth version of Tarzan going from one punch up with thugs to another.
I am a big fan of Arkham Asylum, Arkham City is good too but Arkham Origins just isn't on the same level. It's fun in parts, but let down by the stupid boss battles. Extreme Batman fans only should go for this one.
Review by Tuckski for BCS