The Lie that is Arkham Origins (Spoilers will be tagged)

At one point several weeks ago I remember saying to someone, “I don’t care if Arkham Origins is just a reskinned Arkham City. We don’t get enough of that kind of game that I am tired of it.” Sitting here now, not even 24 hours after having beaten the main portion of the storyline, I can say in honesty that I was wrong. After originally having been excited for the story implications of Arkham Origins I feel as if the developer (WB Montreal) was given the task of creating a last minute cash grab that ultimately provides a story that ultimately does nothing but tell you what you maybe already knew: The Batman franchise has a Joker addiction and its becoming more boring every year it exists.

I am a comic book fan and I have collected them since I was about five or six. While I largely tend to trend towards Marvel comics and its characters (in regards to superheroes and the “big two”) I still enjoy and appreciate Batman and some of DC Comics’ stable of characters. Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City were both great games, not only as comic book inspired titles but even beyond that. They hit an interesting tone and become successful enough that other games started to copy the same formula. When they announced a prequel set in the early years of Batman’s career where the gangster Black Mask has hired assassins to take you down…well, I was excited. They promised Black Mask and villains such as Bane (in a more familiar format that was as cartoonish as the previous entries), Lady Shiva, Deathstroke, and more. I thought this was interesting, especially since they could make you feel the fact he was early in his career and they could force you into using outdated technology. However, they do the opposite and ultimately make me feel as if their premise was nothing more than a lie.

We knew from marketing that the Joker and Penguin would show up. This isn’t an issue, they are staple characters and it only makes sense Batman would interact with them in some capacity. However, after two hours of the game I discovered that not only was the main storyline fairly short but that the premise behind what I was being sold felt like a lie. You barely deal with assassins and with as much of a challenge as marketing told us Deathstroke was going to be, I took him out in less than five minutes and then you never interact with him again. For the third time in a row we deal primarily with The Joker and that’s it. Bane is there for good measure, and I liked how he was treated, but the last two hours of the game felt forced and ultimately turned into a Joker fight again. The technology feels just as high as the last two titles and we conveniently have items that we gained only in the last game…I guess The Batman has a terrible memory or inventory system in the bat cave.

I finished the game only so I said I could. I didn’t want to have wasted that $60 this close to a new console launch only to have not finished the game. I found the multiplayer only to be competent but largely unbalanced and not incredibly fun. I felt as if I was playing Gears of War online only with Batman and Robin thrown in the mix. I think there’s something there that if given the proper amount of time to flesh out could be cool, but it is largely unnecessary. Sadly, I think the same of the single player campaign. What could have been a cash grab with some depth feels only like a cash grab. The voice acting is good but other than that I was thoroughly disappointed with the product that WB Montreal put out. I can only recommend the game if you pick it up in a Steam sale or for $20 somewhere. The biggest complaint I have is ultimately I feel lied to. They tried to make this out like I was going to be getting a largely Joker free experience and in the end I can say that they definitely did not live up to that promise. Do I think the game is hot garbage? No, but I definitely don't think it was worth my time.