Batman: Arkham Origins – Fan Reaction Analysis

This past Tuesday Warner Bros. announced the latest instalment to their Batman series, Batman: Arkham Origins. Since then a wave…

Curtis Dillon

Contributor

batman arkham origins

This past Tuesday Warner Bros. announced the latest instalment to their Batman series, Batman: Arkham Origins. Since then a wave of news has surfaced about the game and fans reactions have been mixed. Do the concerns have any weight or are they just making mountains out of mole-hills?

What seems to be the biggest concern for fans is that Rocksteady, developers of the first two, are not making the latest title. Instead Warner Bros. Games Montreal is heading up development. I don’t see the big problem, especially since we knew quite a while ago that Rocksteady wouldn’t be developing this title. Rocksteady have more than proven themselves with their first two Batman games and despite a new developer the game will be pretty much the same both in aesthetic and gameplay mechanics.

Rocksteady even came to the defence of Games Montreal. Sefton Hill, director of Arkham Asylum and City, told Games Informer, “We are confident this talented team will craft a fantastic experience, bringing the origins of the Arkhamverse to life.” Fears were further buried by Warner Bros. who said Origins was running on Rocksteady’s customised Unreal Engine. This all but guarantees the game will look and play the same.

Even so, gamer concerns about a new studio developing are still premature. It’s becoming commonplace for an established game studio to hand the reins to a new developer, either to produce a prequel or something while they work on the main series, or a permanent passing of the torch. This recently happened with Halo 4, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Gears of War: Judgement. Halo 4 was the first to be developed by a studio other than Bungee and yet is widely considered the best of all. Prequel, Gears of War: Judgement was developed by People Can Fly and was scored well by critics, the game itself feeling and looking identical to the original series. These titles prove that new developers can be just as good, and sometimes better (With the odd exception, here’s looking at you Resistance: Burning Skies).

A bigger concern, for me at least, was the fact that Paul Dini would not be writing the story. Dini, writer of the first two games and the acclaimed Batman Animated Series, said in August 2012 that he had no role in the next game. This is somewhat of a worry because the story in the first two was pretty good, especially in Arkham City. However it stands to reason that the story isn’t just threw together but influenced by the groundwork Dini laid with the first two.

The fact that Dini and Rocksteady are both absent from this title, simply leads me to believe they’re working on a sequel to Arkham City, undoubtedly next-gen. I see the fact that the new title is a prequel to be a clear indication that Rocksteady are indeed working on something new. Maybe a non-Batman game, or even a different superhero game, Superman being the obvious choice. Fans have long considered the possibility of a Rocksteady Superman game, it would be very interesting. A while back rumours surfaced that the third Arkham title would be influenced by the Silver-Age Batman stories and feature the Justice League. If the inclusion of the Justice League were true that could be a way of testing the waters for a Superman, Green Lantern or even Justice League game. Especially with Warner Bros. already spear-heading a campaign to get the Justice League heavily featured in games, comics and television, to promote the team for the eventual Justice League movie. Imagine the possibilites of Justice League game. However, fans are more than happy with just the Caped Crusader for the mean-time.

Many see the prequel idea as a step backwards, I welcome it. The chance to see a young, inexperienced Batman (whose probably less cynical), Gotham before mass crime was common, young, unknown, ambitious villains and possibly even the Batcave, Wayne Manor and even Alfred. I don’t know how they will tackle the sidekick dynamic, it’s probably too early into the Bats adventures for him to have any, but it’d be pretty cool to witness Batman recruit Dick Grayson. The possibilities are endless and exciting, something that only comes with such a prequel.

Batman: Arkham Origins looks and sounds very promising. Based on the information revealed so far, we will be seeing a much younger, vulnerable Batman and witnessing his first meetings with many well-known villains. The events of the game take place on Christmas Eve and Black Mask has put a bounty on Batman’s head and eight of the world’s best assassins arrive in Gotham to take him out. This sounds like a cool set-up, it’s a fairly different story to what we’ve had so far in Batman games and the change of pace could prove to be a welcome change.

As much as I love the Joker, we all do, I think it’s going to be really cool to see some new villains like Black Mask. As well as the masked businessman, confirmed villains include Deathstroke and the Penguin. Deathstroke will be one of the eight assassins and we could make guesses as to the other seven but why bother when we’ll probably learn more at E3.

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deathstroke

The other major detail revealed is the new setting, this game will take players to the streets of Gotham for the first time in the Arkham games. This is exciting news and a factor I feel has been somewhat overlooked amongst the plethora of news surrounding the game. Gotham will feature the familiar Amusement Mile and Brewery districts we saw in Arkahm City but a new island, New Gotham. These two sections of Gotham will apparently be twice the size of Arkham City, that’s awesome.

The Christmas setting is also kind of exciting, from a visual standpoint if nothing else. Based on screenshots, before I knew the Christmas Eve timeframe, my initial reaction was to question the inclusion of snow. Which sounds stupid but Arkham City already featured snow and I thought it weird the new game would have this similar aesthetic. That was until I seen more screenshots. Arkham City only had snowflakes and slight pile-ups by the roadside, this new Gotham has lots of snow, one screenshot depicts cars buried. As well as this there will be Christmas decorations decking the streets, this will make for a very cool aesthetic. Albeit very reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.

On a separate note I don’t get why this wasn’t save for E3. It seems like companies don’t bother waiting anymore and just reveal the game whenever they please, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag being another example. This is possibly to get more publicity, as coming out of E3 there’s so much gaming news that some things can get lost in the shuffle. Maybe it’s an old mind-set but I think E3 is the place to announce games, the past few years there’s been so few big game reveals saved for E3, the last that springs to mind being Watch Dogs. Plus with Sony having their own event to announce the PS4 and Microsoft ready to follow suit it seems the Electronic Entertainment Expo is becoming less and less important. That’s simply disappointing.

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Overall I think the latest Batman title sounds like it has lots of potential. I don’t think the absence of Rocksteady will make a big difference as they’ve already laid such a fantastic groundwork that any studio would have a death wish to fiddle with it. The absence of Dini is possibly worrying but the Black Mask/ Assassin synopsis sounds interesting. With the revamped setting and cool time of year, new and revitalised characters, interesting story and tried and tested gameplay this title could be another major hit for the Dark Knight. Only time will tell if the latest instalment can live up to its predecessors.

The Batman series has been a massive hit, selling over 7 million units worldwide, and achieving critical acclaim. Batman Arkham Origins will be released on October 25th, along with a companion game for the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS.