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E3 2013 Hands On: Batman: Arkham Origins

E3 2013 Hands On: Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins

I have been filled with all kinds of mixed emotions since the announcement of Batman: Arkham Origins. I am a huge fan of the franchise and storyline of the game’s world. I am not a fan of most prequels and unfortunately Arkham Origins falls into the prequel world. Usually prequels just feel like the developers wanted to do another title in the franchise but have been written into a corner or need to find a reason to explain why the protagonist is weaker compared to where fans left them. Fortunately for myself, I was granted access to the elusive “behind doors playable demo” of E3 and had a chance to play around with the younger version of Batman. Let me pour out my feelings on this now.

I’m going to throw this out there now, we were given a Batman that had quite a few enhancements and gadgets from the start of the demo so there is now real telling how Batman will be “powered down” and need leveling during the game. Now let’s continue.

It makes me happy to see that the combat in the game has not changed much at all. This was one of the core mechanics that I think added to the success of the Arkham franchise. As a matter of fact there seems to have been only one change to the mechanics and that revolves around a new enemy type called the “Martial Artist.” These guys add in a new twist to keep an eye out for and that is that they can counter Batman’s attacks just as you can counter enemies with Batman. This doesn’t make it so these enemies only have one way to be taken down but it does add in the need to quickly try to counter their counter attack. It sounds complicated but it really does add a fresh new aspect to the combat, although it shows that all the villains in the Arkham universe forget about it in the future. (Prequel issues)

One of the other aspects of the franchise has been Detective Mode and while in the past it always just seemed like a “hint mode” to me, the revamp that I got to play actually adds quite a bit to the game and feel of “being Batman.” We are still getting the basic blue overlay and “search this area” style of mechanics but there is also the ability rebuild the entire crime scene with the Batputer so you can get a 3D vision of how the crime actually occurred. Think of all those cool scenes in films where the main character pieces everything together and then can walk through it to find hidden clues and you will be spot on. In the part I got to play in the demo I actually had to rewind and play the scene a few times to completely solve it as I was required to see all of the action from multiple vantage points. If only Batman didn’t scrap this technology before going into Arkham Asylum and Arkham City… (Prequel issues)

Lastly, as this was the other big selling point, was the new gadget; the Remote Claw. Now Batman has the ability to shot a Batclaw that in turn shoots another Batclaw to something and then retracts making the two items collide. It can also be used to make a tight rope between gargoyles, but I never used it for that. It does allow you to target an enemy and then have them tethered to an opposite point in the room so they get hung out to dry and your location is still hidden. I am sure that this will lead to some other forms of detection by guards so it doesn’t get overused or abused, but it is nice to see that Bats will have a larger array of toys he never uses again in the franchise. (Prequel issues)

My overall experience with Arkham Origins was an amazing and familiar feeling. I am glad that even though the franchise has been handed off to a new team they are not fixing things that were not broken in the first place. Even though I didn’t touch on it proper above, damn near everything else from movement to menu navigation feels just as it did at the end of Arkham City. Almost to the point where it feels like it should have been a sequel instead of prequel.

Just in case you don’t want to take my exact words on how AO handles, below you can find a video of one of the developers playing through the same demo I did. The only difference is that they knew exactly where to go and strategies to use, but it is all the same. Enjoy.

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