Game Reviews

Batman: Arkham Origins

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Batman: Arkham Origins

It could be argued that, like Batman Arkham City Lockdown before it, Batman: Arkham Origins kind of misses the point of its lead character by placing him in a beat-'em-up.

Batman isn't a brawler. He's a highly skilled combatant, of course, but he's a detective and stealthy infiltrator first.

Batman: Arkham Origins might not be the quintessential Batman game, then, but it is an entertaining slugger nonetheless.

Looking buff

Once again, developer NetherRealm Studios has utilised the Unreal Engine to make Batman - and the assorted petty crooks and arch-villains he must beat the snot out of - look and move like a dream.

This is one of those games you'll boot up to show what your iPhone or iPad can do. iPhone 4 owners be warned, though - it's been optimised for the iPhone 5.

Underneath the polish, this is a pretty straightforward one-on-one fighter with a simple tap-and-swipe control system.

Bats will automatically close the ground on his opponents, leaving you to tap the screen to launch attacks. Stringing three quick attacks together initiates a combo, creating the chance for a couple of slo-mo swipe-based bonus hits.

Prompt response

Further QTE-like elements appear when Batman is stunned, at which point you must hammer a circular prompt to clear his head. Meanwhile certain boss characters will launch special attacks that must be quickly tapped in order to dodge or block them.

Holding the screen with two fingers makes Batman block, which is essential against certain heavy hits, whilst you can launch special attacks of your own by pressing a dedicated button at the bottom of the screen.

There's also a stance system that ostensibly enables you to switch between different fighting styles. In practice this means adjusting the balance between Batman's ability to dish out and withstand damage - at least initially.

Enemy design is disappointingly repetitive, although you will encounter one of the story's eight famous assassins (the likes of Bane, Deathstroke, and Deadshot included) from time to time.

Still, the method involved in beating them all doesn't tend to vary much.

Brucie bonus

Batman: Arkham Origins is a freemium game, and there's that familiar, disconcerting feeling from the outset that you're about to fall off the payment cliff.

You expend stamina by engaging in successive battles, and you must replenish that stamina with your initial stash of Waynetech Points, the game's high-value currency.

But of course, eventually those Waynetech Points run out, and you need to buy some more - unless you're willing to wait for your stamina to recharge naturally.

Add in the optional extras like new batsuits, special moves, and stances that often require a lot of grinding to purchase the old fashioned (and cheap) way, and you have another finely calibrated money-extracting machine.

Still, you'll be able to see the essential parts of the game with little to no money spent - provided you're both patient and proficient.

Stomach for a fight

The question is, will you want to? Perhaps.

Batman: Arkham Origins is a very attractive and immediately playable casual fighter. It lacks the depth and variety (in terms of opponents) of the Infinity Blade series, and while there are strategies to be employed with regard to the stances, the whole game feels more geared towards grinding or spending to obtain a stronger Batman and clobbering your way through the ranks.

Of course, it all looks and feels incredibly cool while you're doing this. We just hope that the next Arkham iOS game remembers that Batman has another, slightly more thoughtful side to him too.

Batman: Arkham Origins

If your favourite take on Batman is the 'biff-bang-pow' kind rather than the 'world's greatest detective' kind, then you'll find plenty to like in this straight-forward button-mashing brawler
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.