Batman Begins... You Know... Again.
With Rocksteady needing extra development time to get the Batman: Arkham series onto the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next year with Arkham Knight, the Arkham series was taken up by developed WB Games Montreal. When a well established series is taken over by a new developer, a considerable amount of concern by fans is understandable. Thankfully, WB Games Montreal's project and contribution to the Arkham series, Batman: Arkham Origins, is a fantastic yet flawed entry to the series that successfully can stand in the same circle as Rocksteady's works. Although the Wii U version lacks downloadable content and the multiplayer mode of the other versions, it's still worth looking into for other reasons.
Arkham Origins' story takes place on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Villain Black Mask has put a bounty on Batman for a huge chunk of change, inviting the series's most dangerous assassins to see who can take out the dark knight first and receive the cash reward. While the name of the game might infer ideas of Batman's beginnings, Arkham Origins actually doesn't show the origins of any one character, besides the Joker in a late portion of the game. Instead, Origins involves how Gotham came to be well versed about the dark knight. It delves into how the bitter and oftentimes complex rivalry between Batman and the Joker came to be, as well as how Batman got onto the right side of Commissioner Gordon. (Oh, and how Bruce Wayne and Batman both became more grateful of outside assistance and less of an "I do things my way and without any help" kind of attitude. All in all, the story takes about 14-16 hours to complete, and thatt's not even factoring in all of the side content Arkham Origins contains.
|I am vengeance... I am the night...|
That said, there's also a lot of good in the visuals. Environments have a visual bounty of details in them, from the numerous billboards, signs, trash fluttering around the city streets, steam rising, amazing particle and lighting effects, and even more immense detail within the city itself that Batman will spend the most time in.
|Gotham has an astonishing amount of detail to it.|
|Those symbols don't mean this enemy's electrocuted;|
they mean he's about to attack Batman!
|Batman surveys the area for trouble.|
As for personal travel itself, Arkham Origins does little to fix what's been wrong with past games. It's very difficult to glide around Gotham with strict precision, and sometimes this does nothing but aggravate. This is especially noticeable when trying to land on or into certain areas of the open world, such as when trying to go for one of the aforementioned data packs. I had it on one occasion where I was getting extremely frustrated trying to glide into the inside of an elevated storage container. Batman would hit just outside the zone for entry, having him fall all the way to the ground to my incredible dismay. It doesn't help that Batman also leaps off walls he comes in contact with when gliding, making precision important yet at the same time almost impossible to pull off in this game.
|I never felt fully in control while gliding.|
|Not even a foe out of his sight|
can think about touching Batman.
|Talk to the fist, because the cowl don't understand.|
Outside of crime scenes, the GamePad is used as a map for players inside areas and outside in Gotham. This is a downgrade compared to what Arkham City - Armored Edition offered back at launch, but it's still nice to have a map to simply have to glance down at rather than pause the game and bring up the map like other platform versions require. This is especially useful when gliding around Gotham to various points of interest. You can just look at the GamePad screen and make adjustments to your path from there instead of pausing the game, going to the map, saying "Okay, I'm a little TOO south", then unpausing the game to make corrections to your path, pausing again, and then saying "Oh, crap. Now I'm too far north. Better pause the game to look at the map again!"
Batman: Arkham Origins offers players the Arkham series's first ability to enter the famous Batcave. It's there that Batman returns to obtain the occasional new gadget, chitchat with Alfred, or engage in a number of training challenges to go along with the game's challenging and optional combat and predator challenges. These award the player with an amount of points and ranking pending on their skill in each challenge of taking out a room full of foes either with pure muscle and reflexes or pure stealth.
|I thought he was a bold bat,|
not a solid snake.
[SPC Says: 8.25/10]