I haven’t written any articles on the upcoming sequel to the two previous Batman Arkham games, however as I am going to replay both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City very shortly, and given that they are two of my favourite games ever made, I thought I should at least do an article acknowledging the existence of the prequel game Arkham Origins.
When I first heard about Origins I was mega excited. I mean, I absolutely adored the two previous Batman games by Rocksteady and I was totally psyched for a third game in the series. Unfortunately Origins isn’t being developed by Rocksteady and has instead been handed over to WB Games Montreal. To be honest, while this is quite worrying, it isn’t the end of the world from where I’m standing. Rocksteady have already developed two Batman games and have laid the foundations for the series. WB Games Montreal are dealing with a prequel, not the sequel, so they have had two games developed by the masters Rocksteady to learn and appreciate how to develop a good Batman game. I’m really confident that they can do a fantastic job.
That said, the lack of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill is slightly worrying. Nobody noticed that Harley Quinn’s voice actor in Arkham City had changed, however The Joker and, obviously, the mighty Batman are two of the most, if not the most, important characters in the entire game and their voice actors are not easily replaced, especially Batman’s. Kevin Conroy is a legend and the voice that he uses for Batman in borderline irreplaceable. His gravelly tone hasn’t just set the standard for how Batman’s voice should sound, he has 100% MADE it Batman’s voice – and his ONLY voice.
I don’t think it’s impossible for WB to find a guy who sounds similar or who does a good, maybe even great or amazing, job of replicating Conroy’s tone, however it’s still a BIG disappointment not to have the master doing it. What’s more, it is slightly worrying WHY he decided not to do Batman’s voice in Origins. Is the game not good enough?
As for Mark Hamill, well, we all knew he wouldn’t be returning for anything Joker related since Arkham City as he said he was giving up the whole Joker thing, so obviously there was always going to be a new voice actor for Batman’s nemesis. I’m kind of split with this one. While I do believe there are many other actors who can do great Joker voices, being able to do a GREAT Joker impression doesn’t mean that they can still BE the Joker. Mark Hamill is also irreplaceable from the perspective that his Joker voice is so borderline unique and perfect that other people who might even be able to do really good impressions of the bad guy, can’t do it exactly how Hamill did. It’s a tricky situation and I hope WB’s have chosen their voice actors EXTREMELY carefully. This is NOT the type of thing they can be all blasé about.
Anyway, moving on. Origins is set in Gotham City unlike the Arkham City game which was set in, well, Arkham City. It takes place on Christmas Eve too, which I think is absolutely awesome. Can you imagine running around in the snow, taking out The Joker and completing cases and everything with Christmas lights up and maybe carols being sung somewhere? I can and I think it could be stunning – if WB does it right that is. I think the whole Christmas tone could make it more depressing and yet lighter at the same time. Very nice contrast indeed.
As for the rest of the story, well, here’s the synopsis:
Set a good few years before Arkham Asylum, and, as I mentioned, on Christmas Eve too, a less experienced Batman finds there are 8 assassins who are out to kill him due to a bounty having been placed on his head by the gangster Black Mask (great to see he is making an appearance). The devs have emphasised that this isn’t a story of how Batman became Batman and is simply a story set within his time as Batman, albeit before he became as experienced and powerful as he was in the likes of Arkham Asylum and City.
Deathstroke, The Joker, Black Mask, The Penguin and Alberto Falcone (as well as other, currently unknown, bad guys) will feature in the game. Hopefully Harley Quinn will make an appearance too, however this is very debatable as, given the time in which it is set, it is unlikely that the Joker will have even met her.
Aside from the story there is not much else to note about the game really. There is now going to be a fast travel option. There is more of a focus on side missions (like aiding the GCPD and things like that). There will likely be some new gadgets as well as returning ones. There is a greater emphasis on the detective side of things this time around. Previously crime scenes had never offered any challenge really and all of the complicated work was done for you. However Origins will have bigger, more expansive and deeper investigation areas so this should be really interesting.
Part of my problem with Arkham City was that it felt a bit rehashed from the first game in some parts. I loved it and all, and it more than qualified for a 9/10, however some of the gameplay and story sections felt predictable, easy and/or copied from Arkham Asylum. Like the gliding across the ice part in AC was just like the tiptoeing along the wood while avoiding Killer Croc part in AA. A bit more variety in Origins would be awesome.
I also found the story in AA completely uninteresting. I adored the parts where you had to go after The Joker and battle Ra’s Al Ghul and the mini little side stories were nice, however the main plot was feeble at most. Maybe the main story hasn’t always been the focus of Batman, and it has always been more about the fights and the characters and everything, however I do expect more from a video game.
Aside from those couple of things I had no other significant beefs with Arkham City, so there aren’t really any proper ‘issues’ with the game that Origins needs to avoid doing, however it certainly will need to switch things up. Rehashing is never good and hopefully it will offer a brand new story and mission selection.
I have to admit; I am super excited for the upcoming Batman prequel. It looks amazing. Some things are worrying me a little, however if WB Games Montreal pull this off then B:AO could easily be another game battling for Game Of The Year.
What are your thoughts on the Batman games and the upcoming Origins prequel? Lemme know in the comments! PEACE.
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