Developer: Warner Bros.
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3 + iPhone 4s

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Like Arkham City Lockdown before it, Batman: Arkham Origins pits the Dark Knight against an onslaught of goons in Infinity Blade-style fashion. This time, however, Batman has a few new tricks in his utility belt.

The console version of Arkham Origins details the early career of the Caped Crusader, revealing some of his first encounters with several members of his expansive rogues gallery. In the mobile version, players will go one-on-one with a number of thugs until they reach the boss at the end of each area. No matter what the motivation or explanation behind each level is it still boils down to that basic format, and without the cinematic Batarang sections of Lockdown it can really start to wear thin.

20131018-204947.jpgIn reality, Arkham Origins plays a lot more like Injustice: Gods Among Us than Lockdown. Attacks are launched using taps and well-timed swipes during Quick Time events, however unlike the previous games from Warner Bros. the fighting system here seems almost convoluted in comparison. While there is a cool new first-person view to accompany the shock gauntlets, and the rest of Batman’s gadget arsenal is still present, the fighting system doesn’t feel as free-flowing or intuitive as it did in the last mobile game.

The ability to dodge an attack is also sorely missed this time around. Players are expected to adopt a defensive stance while blocking oncoming attacks, incurring half the damage they would while in an attacking stance. It makes Batman look like some kind of rookie brawler rather than one of the world’s most advanced martial artists. Players will have to employ a more tactical approach as the game progresses, using gadgets conservatively and switching between stances almost rhythmically, with even the lowest-grade street gang posing quite a challenge. It feels rewarding, but due to the repetitive level design it’s just not that exciting.

If players have the console version they can unlock alternate costumes and other perks simply by playing this version. As an incentive, the Red Son costume will be unlocked just for signing up for the WBiD service. The rest of the costumes – from Long Halloween to Earth 2 – need to be unlocked and purchased using in-game currency, which is readily available. Unfortunately, because of the stamina system carried over from Injustice, players will have to wait patiently for Batman to recover after Alfred has tucked him in for the night.

20131018-205048.jpgPersonally I would prefer to simply pay a one-off fee for a fully unhindered experience, but that’s the digital world we live in. Also, why doesn’t this game have full support for multitasking? Quickly checking an email? Be prepared to sit through the loading screen each and every time.

Arkham Origins is an incredible-looking game, with all of the polish that players would expect from a title of this stature. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to make up for the repetitive gameplay. However, I don’t know whether it’s because of sheer Bat-fandom, or just my completionist nature, but I keep coming back despite its shortcomings. It’s just that with each new Batman title come certain expectations, and in this case, Arkham Origins isn’t as great as it could have been.


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