E3 2013: Batman: Arkham Origins Preview – Year One
Written Tuesday, June 18, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Bruce Wayne has always had it tough. Losing his parents and adopting the iconic cowl and cape, he's made himself a target for every maniacal villain in Gotham. But before the Joker pulled his strings in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Batman had Black Mask and countless assassins to face down in Batman: Arkham Origins.
Black Mask wants the Bat dead by any means, putting a $50 million bounty on the Dark Knight's head and demanding that he's killed on Christmas Eve. It won't be a very merry Christmas for Batman with the likes of Deathstroke, Deadshot, Black Mask and his goons, and a number of other assassins on a single-minded mission out to take him out. Then there's the question of a certain green-haired psychopath who's also gunning for the Bat.
We had hoped to get our hands on Batman: Arkham Origin, but Warner Montreal's game was being presented hands-off behind closed doors at E3, with a gameplay demo showcasing the new detective mode, a new grapnel gun gadget and Batman's free-flowing combat, back in full effect. Opening with Bats dangling a criminal from a great height, the scene is set for a more forceful, uncompromising Batman, who's got his back against the wall.
Taking place in the South Gotham region, the city is once again in a state of chaos as its gallery of criminals embark upon a crime spree in an effort to draw Batman into a corner. Like Arkham City, you're free to explore the area at your leisure, while listening in to local surveillance for leads on any criminal occurrences that crop up in and around the seedy backalleys and decrepit city streets. During the course of our demo, we get to see Bats gliding around the city and tracking a crime in progress; a bank robbery in which he decides to intervene.
Going from a fast glide kick straight into an overhead throw, Bats immediately eliminates one of Black Mask's goons in mere seconds, before tackling the rest of the crew. This is one of the tougher challenges like this that you'll face, as the crew is led by a bulky armoured enforcer, a Black Mask henchman whose armoured plates you'll have to break off first before you can deal any real damage. Thankfully, Bats still has his full combat repertoire making fighting multiple foes as fluid, balletic and brutal as it's always been. Popping limbs out of their sockets and putting enemies out of action quickly and efficiently is how the Dark Knight rolls.
Following each fight, Arkham Origins' new 'Dark Knight' progression system generates a rating based on how well you fought, granting you a grade that translates an XP total based on how well you performed. Moving on, Batman soon finds himself being taunted by Anarky who projects a film on the side of a building, revealing that he's planted bombs all over the city. It appears that Anarky will play a similar role to the Riddler, cajoling Bats as you race against time to disarm the explosives dotted around Gotham. Dispose of all of the bombs and you'll be able to track Anarky down, dealing with him and scratching him off the most wanted list.
As we see Bats tackling one of the bombs installed on a snowy rooftop, he's attacked by martial artists; new enemies decked out in light padded armour who are able to counter Batman's moves, which you in turn are able to counter. This leads to some frantic back and forth action, and you'll need to up your game, keeping your wits sharp as you battle proficient fighters like this. Once the martial artists have been taken down, Bats witnesses and narrowly avoids a helicopter crash that he'll need to investigate and dissect using his new detective mode.
Constructing a case file, Batman can now scan evidence and upload it to the Batcomputer, piecing together the crime scene bit by bit to build a full reconstruction of what exactly happened. Analysing the body thrown from the cockpit, Batman traces the point of impact, isolating it to the helicopter's tail rotor. Finding the severed tail of the chopper on a rooftop, Bats is then able to track the sniper shot that hit it, indicating that it apparently came from a SWAT team trooper, who's found dead.
After further examination, it transpires that what in fact happened was a bullet ricocheted from the rotor, killing the SWAT troop and bringing down the chopper in one fell swoop. After analysing multiple parts of the crime scene and formulating a reconstruction, Batman has his perp. “There's only one man who could make that shot,” Bats muses. “Deadshot.” And with that, the world's greatest detective has his next lead.
The final section of the demo showcases some predator action, as Bats swings between gargoyles and silently eliminates bad guys one by one. Thanks to his new remote claw gadget, Bats can tether together two enemies and pull them towards each other to butt their heads and knock them out. Or he can tether a crim and attach the other end to a gargoyle, hanging him upside down by his leg. You can't exploit the remote claw too much however, as it only holds two shots that need to be replenished. Luring the last two goons beneath a tightrope using a sonar batarang, Bats uses a tightrope takedown to hang up the last two enemies, earning an 'S' grade and the title of 'Apex Predator' for completing the area perfectly.
Warner Montreal has one final teaser up its sleeve as it wraps up the demo, showing a sequence in which Bane grabs hold of the Bat and bounces him off the walls of a corridor before throwing hims through a wall. On the other side of the wall, a familiar face awaits; the insane grinning face of the Joker whose opening gambit is to blow up a building for no apparent reason. He has several detonators rigged to blow, keeping Batman at bay.
And so begins the so-called 'Night of the Assassins' and our first look at Batman: Arkham Origins succeeds in allaying our fears for the series following Rocksteady's departure. South Gotham offers a whole new playground populated by vertiginous skyscrapers and old Gotham charm, while the promise of reliving Batman's early years should prove to be an intriguing prospect. While the voice acting has also been changed, we have to admit that both Batman and the Joker sound fantastic, perfectly representing the gruff caped crusader and cackling maniac respectively. We went into Batman: Arkham Origins with some reservations, but came out with a smile on our face. Consider us happy campers for the time being. Batman: Arkham Origins looks slick.
Batman: Arkham Origins is out on October 25th, 2013.