What Happens When the Inmates Run the Asylum
Batman is set to make his eighth generation debut in a big blockbuster way with Batman: Arkham Knight. While that game might have slipped into 2015, the buzz for the game is still at a fever pitch, especially after a successful showing at last week's E3. This will mark developer Rocksteady's third go at it with the Batman license and the fourth console game in the Arkham series. Meanwhile, Armature Studio, made up of talent of former Retro Studios employees, created and launched the Arkham series's first foray on handhelds late last year with Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate for both the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. Is being the bat on the small screen all it is cracked up to be, or will the experience drive you batty?
Blackgate the game's story happens three months after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins. Three of the most violent and vicious criminals in Gotham City, The Joker, The Penguin, and Black Mask, reside in Blackgate Prison, each with long-term residencies. When an explosion goes off within the prison, the three criminals take the opportunity to scrounge up their own set of henchmen and occupy one of three major areas of Blackgate. Batman goes in to make things right, all the while uncovering that the prison explosion has more than meets the eye to it.
|Stylized hand-drawn comics like this one|
give some zing to the presentation of Blackgate's story.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate plays similarly to Metroid, although Blackgate contains a fleshed out 2.5D perspective that does a lot to impress. However, it also does a lot to detract from the experience due to its less than stellar execution.
A main issue with traversal through Blackgate's environments concerns the in-game map. The actual game world features rooms and hallways that cross over one another, sometimes having Batman move into a room that isn't just to the left or right as is typical of a 2D game but actually in the background. The map Blackgate uses does not account for any of these variables. This makes it all too easy to become confused and frustrated as to which way you need to go. It may seem you're in the correct room, but since the map is presented in an overhead perspective, you might be several floors above the room you need to be in. A 3D map a la Metroid Prime would have been a much better solution for players to avoid any kind of confusion.
|A dynamic camera makes it so you seldom|
don't have a fantastic view of the action.
|This 3DS screen shows the multi-layered|
levels of Blackgate Prison.
As for enemy encounters, these have made a successful transition from Blackgate's big console brothers. These battles still occur in Blackgate's 2D gameplay plane, but Batman automatically moves between the foreground and background as he pulverizes foes. The free flowing combat allows players to effortlessly string together high combo totals just like the console games, albeit in a much simpler form. There's still opportunities for enemies to get shots in, but precise timing of the counter button allows Batman to save his hide from injury.
|Basketball season may be over,|
but Batman's going for the slam dunk.
|Stealth plays a notable factor in Blackgate.|
|Need to cross this huge gap?|
Bring on the Line Launcher!
|Even enemy lines of vision can be|
viewed in Detective Mode.
[SPC Says: 7.25/10]