A Week in Gaming – Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins was delivered to my house last Friday (its release day) and I’ve been playing it ever since. To be honest, I really haven’t played much of it, maybe 4 hours or so? I can’t really keep track game time very well. Being busy has made gaming so very difficult, but regardless I have been really enjoying what little I have played.

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What I love so much about the Arkham series is the total immersion in Batman lore. They have always done a great job at paying attention to the details, making these games hold true to Batman and the world in which he lives and Arkham Origins is no different. As I’m sure you may have assumed by now this is an origin story for Batman. The game takes place in the second year of Batman’s career and five years before the events of Arkham Asylum so he is relatively new to the gig. This makes for some interesting dynamics in his general character, he is not the super experienced master of everything just yet and it shows – which is awesome. One thing that I noticed is Batman’s general demeanor. He lets anger get the best of him sometimes which causes him to make minor mistakes and act more rashly (he accidently makes a criminal pass out while interrogating him towards the beginning of the game, for example). These things aren’t out of character, of course, but they really seem like something that Arkham Asylum era Batman wouldn’t do which validifies that the time period more so that just the actual date.

Something I found to be particularly cool is that at the beginning of this game, he has no idea who The Joker even is. As the narrative unfolds their caustic relationship becomes solidified creating some really neat scenes and dialog. We are so used to having them both aware of each other that the moment you realize that they really don’t have a feel for one another yet it’s weird, the good kind of weird.

Gameplay-wise Arkham Origins is much like its predecessors. It’s the same kind of rock-em-sock-em combat as before but with a little bit of lip gloss and eye shadow. There are some new features and of course new gadgets which mix it up. Something I do find myself longing for are the classic Riddler challenges, the new “Enigma” challenge system is different and not nearly as satisfying though it does make sense given the time period. I used to love spending hours searching all areas and scanning everything I could just to learn about characters, places, and things. I’m sure once I get used to the new system I will be fine though.

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When it was first announced that Batman and The Joker would not be voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (respectively) people flipped out. I wont lie, I was upset too. I thought “Well what are we gonna do now? No one else is talented enough!” then Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker stepped up to the plate and legitimately blew my mind. Smith (the voice of Batman) really brings his own edge to the role without making the character sound too different. He sounds a lot like a younger Conroy-voiced Batman which works perfectly with the timeline. I was really surprised by his raw talent with such an iconic character.

The Joker? Well when I heard that Baker would be doing the voice I was super calm, I had the utmost faith in him given his outrageous talent in pretty much every voice he has ever done. Though, bias aside, I was still surprised at his rendition of The Joker. He really brings something new to the role. In an interview I watched recently Baker stated that he really loved Mark Hamill’s Joker but wanted to bring something new to the role, which he definitely did. It’s really just a delightful surprise that both men stepped into such huge shoes and still succeeded in a flawless fashion.

I’ve heard a lot of talk of game breaking glitches found in all versions of the game, but luckily I have yet to encounter anything more than the occasional lag while loading areas *knocks on wood*. My gameplay experience has been really smooth so far, so I have been having tons of fun! Now if I just had more time…