E3, that wild party of all things delightfully geeky, has begun in Los Angeles. This means that the various video game companies will be showing off their biggest projects to excite the fans (or in the case of the Xbox One, turn them off even more). This is where the most awaited games tend to make their first big splash. And after big brothers Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins has a lot to live up to. With the previous installments being the adventures of a seasoned hero; how will Warner Brothers Montreal, taking over from Rocksteady, deal with a Batman that is still wet behind the pointy ears.
Actually pretty well. In the brand new trailer, all the gameplay favorites are still there, and with Kevin Conroy confirming that he will be Batman (and not a newcomer as rumored), it seems that they will be relying on some familiarity in the design. However, this should not breed contempt. Arkham Origins seems prepared to build upon the success of its predecessors.
A quick recap of the story: It is Christmas, and Bruce Wayne has been Batman for about a year and a half. Black Mask, having been hassled by Batman for much of that time, has put a fifty million dollar reward on the Dark Knight. This brings out killers and mercenaries such as the previously revealed Deathstroke, expert marksman Deadshot, and “The Man Who Broke The Bat” Bane to get that generous Christmas present.
While combat looks familiar for when you’re in a melee with various goons, thugs, and general malcontents of Gotham, it does show a few new wrinkles. The one new combat gadget revealed was a kind of cable that you can latch to one crook, and then another; releasing the cable results in a Three Stooges style headbutt between the two, knocking them out. Another gadget, which I didn’t get a clear view of, seems to be a smoke pellet gun. enveloping the target in smoke. The new Detective Mode plays out a lot like CSI, with holographic recreations of crimes, in this case a helicopter crash. The gadgets for this younger Dark Knight seem to be a tad more brutal than the ones that we have used in previous installments.
And we see that brutality throughout the trailer. The first time we hear Batman speak, he’s dangling a Penguin thug (having recycled their garb from Arkham City) over a Christmas tree. This impatient crimefighter tosses the crook onto the tree, an act we would never see in previous Arkham games. This might be due more to his lack of experience than anything else, but it gives yours truly fears of behavior out of All Star Batman and Robin, in which Batman’s violence was more than I would normally see him do in any other book.
Scenery wise, a Christmas Card Gotham juxtaposed with the brutal violence seems to be the perfect setting for this game. It reminds me somewhat of Batman Returns in its aesthetic; with the Dark Deco buildings covered in snow. And with an open world Gotham and fast travel with the Batwing, it will be a beautiful, but deadly, city to look at and explore. Character design, they seem to return to their comic book look than their Arkhamverse look. We have already seen Batman, Black Mask, and Deathstroke’s models before, so I won’t go into that. Deadshot returns to his classic comic book look compared to the more Batman: Gotham Knight Deadshot in Arkham City. Bane looks a tad off; with a mask straight from the Bane found in Young Justice and the coat worn by the Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. As for voice; it sounds like Wade Williams is repeating his role as Black Mask from Batman: Under The Red Hood. The biggest surprise of the trailer was an appearance by The Joker, with a very familiar voice. Whether it is truly Mark Hamill voicing the Clown Prince of Crime at this point in Batman’s history or a good imitator is yet to be known. Until the cast list is announced, that will be a mystery.
It seems that Arkham Origins will be a worthy successor to the previous titles. While much has yet to be revealed, such as Riddler side quests and other fan favorite aspects, it looks like it will be a fun game. And with the announced pre-order bonus being the ability to play as fan favorite Deathstroke, who knows what else will be done on Christmas Eve in Gotham.