Batman is still at the apex of his fame and Warner Brothers seems fully aware of this. Passing the successful Batman: Arkham series from Rocksteady Studios to an internal Montreal development house for the first time was, initially, a frightening prospect. Fortunately, Batman: Arkham Origins is a solid iteration in the Arkham canon, even if it doesn’t necessarily break the mould of the previous games.
Taking place on Christmas Eve, players take control of Batman before he became the hero that Gotham City needed. When Black Mask puts a bounty on his head, it is up to the caped crusader to take out the assassins that are hired to kill him. Batman is still at odds with the Gotham City Police, so he has more than enough enemies to contend with for one night.
Origins has nods to other entries in the series, but what makes it worth playing is its personal narrative. As the name suggests, this is an origin story and, unlike the previous games, it is about discovering who Batman is and why he is a necessary presence in Gotham. With new voice actors and a more comic book-esque art-style, the game’s presentation slightly differentiates it from the rest of the series, but technical issues still occur including framerate drops and random glitches.
Arkham Origins does do a great job of introducing many other characters from the Batman lore, however, with notable encounters for most. Despite gameplay behaving very similarly to Arkham City, boss battles feel a lot more satisfying and memorable than previous games. General combat scenarios still consist of “attack, counter, attack,” with a few slight modifications, but Origins makes sure that the boss battles truly stick out by taking advantage of Batman’s vast arsenal of gadgets.
The only significant addition to Arkham Origins is its multiplayer aspect, which has players taking the role of gang members in a team deathmatch/territory-based hybrid. Meanwhile, two randomly chosen players stalk the shadows as Batman and Robin, picking off gang members as they fight against each other. When playing as a gang member, it is hard to not constantly be worried that Batman will pop out of the shadows, and that feeling alone makes the multiplayer exceptionally satisfying.
Unfortunately, Arkham Origins is a lot more of the same when it comes to every other aspect. There are still Riddler collectibles, an emphasis on stealth, and crime scene investigations that feel overly simplified, removing any intelligence previously necessary to complete them. And while it’s disappointing that few people will bother with its unique multiplayer, Origins has a solid enough campaign to keep fans enticed — despite a lack of new additions to celebrate.