David and I recently picked up Batman: Arkham Origins for Xbox 360. I have played through both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City and loved both of them. The interesting thing about the first two games is that they flow really nicely from one story to the next even though they are very different situations. Starting in the asylum and then moving in to a larger city really expands the world that you are dealing with. Then in Batman: Arkham Origins we are actually taking a step backwards to see where it all began.
The other interesting part is that this game is being made my a different company. The first two were made in part by Rocksteady and this one is made by WB Games. I was interested to see what that would mean for the game. The previews looked so well done, but part of what made the first games interesting was the combination of the story and the fighting controls. My general first impression is that the game is keeping a lot of same control elements and side questing that I remember from the first games. I am enjoying it so far, but there have been some details that have stood out, both good and bad.
So the development teams did a great job in keeping the same control system that was used during the first two games. If you have played the first two games it is very easy to just get back in the mode of sneaking around, gliding around, grappling as Batman. Part of what makes this even easier is them providing you with all of your basic equipment from the very beginning. In the other games you started with the clawhook and the batarang (even less in Arkham City), but they explain why this happens. In Arkham Origins we are at home when we start out, so there is no reason for us not to have more weapon options available to us. So instead we get to start out with the clawhook, batarang, explosive gel, and cryptograph. This makes the beginning of the game feel very different as we start out ready to deal with a lot more than we do in the other two games.
Locations from Arkham City
One of the neatest parts of the game was revisiting the same locations from Arkham City in Arkham Origins, but before the city has been turned in to a giant prison camp. It is so weird going back through these locations, but they are intact areas instead of being overrun by a specific criminal element. It is so weird seeing these locations in such a different light. Now instead of listening for prisoners being attacked you are listening for police scanners telling you that a crime is in progress. The walls are still covered with graffiti, but it looks like a city would look like that probably has a high crime rate. I have not been to too much of the city yet, but the part I have been to the areas have felt extremely familiar.
Riddler / Enigma
An aspect of the first two games that I really appreciated were the Riddler clues, trophies, and riddles. In Arkham Origins they introduce an early Riddler, which makes it even more intriguing. You get to see the beginnings of what the Riddler does later on. Early on we find out the Riddler has set up jamming signals and has been stealing all the most important data from the people in Arkham. The side quest is being able to find all the stolen data and shut down the Riddlers network. I am sure that in the end we will need to actually locate and arrest the Riddler so he can be put behind bars. I am really excited to see what that will mean.
So the voice acting in this is a little off at first because it is not the same voice for Batman, but it is like they are trying to be similar. When you hear Batman it sounds familiar, but a little bit off. It is a bit of a distraction at first, but the story pulls you in. The Riddler they were able to get as the same actor, which is nice because I do not know how well that would have been pulled off. I have not heard too many characters yet, but the difference in the voice actors are a bit noticeable. At the same time so far the story has gripped me and I want to do more. There also seems to be a ton of new characters that will be fun to learn about.
From what I have seen they have done a good job so far. I am sneaking around inside buildings, figuring out what happened in a certain location, and even grappling / gliding around an open city. The ability to go anywhere and do almost anything is such a nice feeling, while still having a specific story you are following. I will not really know until I get further in to the story, but my initial impression is that this game will be enjoyable. I guess the one thing that I do not think it is doing is creating something new. It is keeping with the feeling of the first two games, but by going back in time it is hard to give us too much of a new element to be dealing with. The fast travel is nice, but it is more of a convenience than necessarily story related because you now have the ability to go back to the Batcave. I will be interested to see what else is new, but so far it does not look like much. At the same time you are running around Arkham as Batman, which is just awesome.