written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
So excited!! That's the sentiment I've felt all week, this Friday I get to step into the boots of the goddamn Batman once again and this time we'll be looking at a younger/less seasoned Batman. I know the game is coming out but to whet the appetite of our readers a bit, here's a preview from some of the early builds of the game I was able to play so far.
From the panel at NYCC and several interviews, this is already established to be a younger Batman, but it isn't an origin story, contrary to the name (and gladly) they aren't going to delve into four hours of pearls falling. This is a year 3 Batman, before Dick Grayson ever becomes his Robin or even before James Gordon becomes commissioner, this younger Batman has already faced down the major crime families in Gotham. Now, he has to face enemies that live on the more fantastical side of the coin. Iconic members of his rouges gallery like Deadshot and Bane to more obscure villains like Copperhead and Firefly, even his ultimate foil The Joker (voiced by the super talented Troy Baker) makes an appearance.
From early builds of Batman: Arkham Origins my worries were already dashed, originally I was very worried that Rocksteady was not helming this game, but from the gameplay I was able enjoy to the videos I've seen online, it looks like WB Games is handling this entry in the Arkham mythos with serious care. Arkham Origins plays very much like Arkham Asylum and Arkham City . If you've played either of those entries before, stepping into the boots of the bat will be a seamless transition. The gameplay is by large the same, and dispatching a crowd of baddies is just as satisfying as it was in previous entries. I don't foresee this game being bad at all, in fact the only worry I have (and still have) is that the story won't be as good as Asylum or City. But even if the stroy sucks and the gameplay is superb, this will still mark a very satisfying entry in the Arkham series and keep me sated until Rocksteady released their next entry in the Arkham series for next generation consoles.
The build I played (at PAX Prime 2013) covered a good slice of gameplay, I was able top glide around Gotham, beat down some thugs, and even partake in the new crime scene recreation mode, allowing Batman to digitally recreate a crime scene by hunting down clues in the area. Personally, my favorite gameplay mechanic and challenge maps are the predator maps, and I was not disappointed that they included a predator gameplay segment. Overall, I can't complain because I'm getting more Batman. I've said this to death already but Troy Baker as the Joker is fantastic, but let's not forget Roger Craig Smith. As a younger Batman/Bruce Wayne, Roger Craig Smith (Ezio Auditore, Chris Redfield) plays the role magnificently and even sounds like he could have been a younger Kevin Conroy, very reminiscent to the way Batman spoke in the early days of Batman the Animated Series .
Stepping away from the big brother consoles, the handhelds get their own adventure. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate comes out for PS Vita and 3DS the same day, I got a chance to play both of them and I did enjoy it. The game plays like a side scroller "Metroid-Vania" style of gameplay in a 2.5D landscape. Movement is purely 2D but the world around you is 3D. Zipping around Gotham and gliding do leave a bit to be desired, but fighting is a delight. If you played the Robin Black Mask challenge map in Arkham City these games would feel pretty familiar.
From what I've read online, this looks to be after the events of Arkham Origins so I'm not too sure if I will play it right after or right along side the console version. I had fun with it and I plan to buy it for my PS Vita, personally I didn't care for it on the 3DS, though if all you have is a 3DS... give it a shot, but if you have both... might as well get the Vita version.
The game comes out in a few days and I'm already trying to schedule out some time to get serious gameplay in! Keep it locked for full reviews of both games (and the iOS companion game... available now and totally free) coming soon.