Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins is, on the playful front, substantially identical to its direct predecessor, from which it not only inherits the alternation between fighting and stealth phases, but also the Free-Roaming system.
Precisely on this point, the Warner Montreal team has worked extensively, greatly expanding the boundaries of the map. The Gotham in front of us is enormous, full of buildings, skyscrapers, factories: the Christmas decorations and the thin blanket of fresh snow settle on a city of almost embarrassing extension. So much so that the console stumbles on more than one occasion, slows down, stops for a few seconds of loading: especially after the unpublished Fast Travels, which allow us to move between the districts of the city thanks to the Batwing. Fortunately, the problem is zeroed when we are inside buildings and during fights, and it occurs especially at times when, by sketching on the roofs of the city, the visual horizon extends to frame its boundaries.
The Gotham of Arkham Origins, however, is perhaps a little less characteristic than that of the previous chapter, although there are also recognizable " landmarks ", such as the long bridge that separates the two main areas of the city, the steelworks, or the pier where the Last Offer is anchored, base of the shady Cobblepot traffic. Exploring the city one immediately realizes that in the economy of the title the clashes with the Gotham dregs have certainly become priority: the streets are full of criminals and, more often than not, should it be for a police call or to intercept an E.Nigma informant, you end up involved in a fight. In this case the exceptional qualities of the combat system are rediscovered, still one of the most successful today. At basic hits you have to alternate the counterattacks performed at the right time, to raise the counter of the combo and have access to special moves, which allow you to KO your opponents or stun them with swarms of bats. There are, as always, enemies armed with shields, protective vests and blades, which must be tackled with special tactics, and this chapter seems worse than usual in the composition of the handpieces that threaten us. In short, one must be careful, showing timing and readiness, if one does not want to be beaten up. It must also be said that, after three episodes, one may perhaps feel the need for a refinement of the animations and of the management of the camera, which does not always frame the action and leaves our shoulders uncovered:
On the other hand, the (few) predator sections are very well done: those in which to silently eliminate the adversaries, catching them by surprise and terrifying them thanks to the WayneTech gadgets. Rather than the new trinkets available to Batman, these moments are enhanced by an intelligent and varied level design, as well as by some gimmick that forces the bat to come down from the Gargoyles to look for alternative solutions. It is a pity that the team has clearly preferred the action to stealth: to partial compensation, it must be said that the roofs of Gotham are full of armed squads, which must be put out of action without being noticed. So even around the city, therefore, we will be able to make use of our skills as invisible executioners. Any battle, however, will earn us experience points by which you can unlock new gadget upgrades or improve combat skills. Unfortunately the system does not always work, and despite these upgrades the gameplay does not come alive, remaining all in all identical to itself from beginning to end. Indeed, there is some gadget that a little dirty the overall balance of the experience, resulting a little too powerful: fortunately it is only the last moments of the adventure those affected by this problem, and in the end we can understand the will to gradually maximize the sense of power one feels by controlling a protagonist like Batman.
Beyond this insistent dualism of gameplay, the excellent alternation of situations, always being fresh and never tired. The exploration sections inside the buildings alternate with investigative moments, and the gaming experience is strongly reinvigorated. There is no lack of clashes with bosses this time, and almost all of them appear to be inspired, presenting interesting variations on the theme of the main dynamics. The pace of progress, in fact, is really perfect, and Arkham Origins lets itself play in one breath, for the twelve hours it takes to finish the story mode. What then, in truth, the things to do are not lacking even after having foiled the criminal plan in which we find ourselves entangled. In addition to the riddler's tests, for example, there are crime scenes in which to investigate, discovering a new system that is potentially very interesting but perhaps not very developed in this episode. The detective visual allows us to reconstruct the moments in which the murders took place, giving us the power to "rewind" the temporal tape in search of new evidence. These are moments that are well characterized but still a little too guided, but which provide excellent foundations for the future. And then there are obviously the killers to beat at Blackgate, since not all eight killers will compete with Batman in the main story. Just a shame that the clash with some (Deadshot and Shiva) is barely sketched, resulting in the end to be very bland.
Overall Batman: Arkham Origins is, however, an overflowing title, but above all well organized. Even after seeing the highly inspired end credits, the desire to return to Gotham comes to a close and the long night of the Dark Knight ends in style. For those who were then totally enraptured by feeling in the mood to exhaust the Warner title completely, there are the challenges, present in an overflowing quantity. Those of struggle are the most difficult to swallow, a bit boring and not always very balanced, while the "predator" scenarios are really splendid, and bring out the best of the stealth system created by Rocksteady. Even if you don't intend to finish them all, try some of them: this time the access is directly from the Bat-Cavern, thanks to the virtual training system.
Matter of style
The graphic style of the production is also very conservative, totally in line with that of the old episode and without particular changes, at least in the console edition. It therefore underlines a gloomy look, supported by a good polygonal mass and well-defined textures even if not always exceptional. The environmental interactivity is always very small, the animations are those of always, and in general it is felt enough, especially for those who two years ago stripped Arkham City, this evident "immobility", which gives us a title developed with trade but without any kind of relevant technical intervention. With all the tools at his disposal, Warner Montreal probably gave the best, managing to produce a title with its own character even without retouching the graphics engine.
Also on the musical front the productive values are high, with some choice of breaking in important moments, and in general excellent orchestrated pieces. Evident also the powerful reuse of extracts from the old soundtrack, but all in all the accompaniment is well placed and competently highlights the highlights, including boss fights.
Overall - 9
Batman: Arkham Origins is a great game, respectful of the legendary DC characters involved in the adventure, fun, rich in content, well structured, and even with a fairly original multiplayer. And yet it lacks the creative spark that its predecessors had, because the developers wanted to continue on the path laid out by Rocksteady without trying in the least to take alternative routes. The almost total lack of real innovation to the formula will not bother those who loved the previous chapters, and the presence of multiple touches of class will exalt the fans of the bat man, so we do not hesitate to advise you if you are part of these categories. However, if you are expecting a big step forward in the saga, you will be disappointed.