Preview: Batman Arkham Origins

Batman is back this fall with another dark adventure. Following Asylum and City, the Arkham franchise will debut Batman: Arkham Origins, the 3rd installment (and hopefully not the last) of Rocksteady’s particular vision of the Dark Knight.

Loosely based on the Batman: Year One and the Legend of the Dark Knight graphic novels, Batman: Arkham Origins explains Bruce Wayne’s first steps as the Caped Crusader and some of his showdowns with the evilest of DC Comic’s many villains.

Take a peek at the first game trailer while we tell you all there is to know about the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins.

The nightmare before Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas and the snow is falling thickly on Gotham’s streets. While most are at home preparing for the holidays, others have more important things to focus on. This year, Bruce Wayne has no time for carols. In the guise of Batman, he has followed Penguin’s tracks to a warehouse at the port where Alberto Falcone, son of the most powerful mafioso in the city, is being held hostage.

After taking down some of his thugs, Batman comes face to face with Penguin himself. While this eccentric, plump villain hardly excels in combat, he has ways of making life very uncomfortable for the Dark Knight. Batman, meanwhile, just wants to know who it is that has put a price on his head.

This is one of the many situations Batman will find himself in in Batman: Arkham Origins, a game that shows us the early days of the famous crimestopper. Rocksteady have collaborated with Warner Bros Montreal in the title, resulting in one of the most ambitious Batmans we’ve seen to date.

A white Christmas for Batman?

The two faces of Gotham

In Arkham Asylum, we saw what might possibly be the most demented prison ever featured in a comic, while in Arkham City, we saw Gotham’s darkest side. In Arkham Origins, we’re going to see the other side of the coin, getting an insight into Gotham’s old town, as well as discovering New Gotham, the burgeoning, prosperous side of the city.

This development almost doubles the game map. You can move around freely, although it’s a good idea to use the Batwing, Batman’s plane. The Batwing will allow you to move around the different parts of Gotham more quickly, but you’ll need to unlock the communication antennas first.

What good is a huge city, though, if there’s nothing going on? No good is the answer, which is why Warner Brothers has worked to create a completely dynamic game environment where every action has a completely different result every time you initiate it.

Batman: Arkham Origins has a very clear storyline, but between the main missions you’ll also be able to take part in other, dynamic missions, a game dynamic we’ve seen in the upcoming GTA 5, for example. Although these are secondary missions, they’re important for your reputation as a crimefighter – in his early days, remember, Batman was constantly questioned by the law. Stopping villains in their tracks is a failsafe way of reminding them that you’re on their side.

By cleansing Gotham’s streets during missions, and capturing Gotham’s Most Wanted criminals, you’ll both win the respect of the police and hone your own crime-fighting skills.

You’ll be up against all kinds of criminals in both the main and side missions

Do we know each other?

If you’ve played Arkham Asylum and Arkham City you won’t have any problems with Arkham Origins. In fact, there are barely any changes to the game mechanism set up by Rocksteady in the first two games. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this means Batman: Arkham Origins is more of the same. For a start, Batman’s not the old pro we know and love – he’s a noob, just starting out in the business of donning a cape and fighting crime. This means that the Dark Knight is going to make some mistakes, although Bruce Wayne is quick to learn, so he won’t make the same one twice.

Something else to look out for in the game are the weapons and gadgets the Dark Knight will use. WB have promised lots, but so far they’ve only actually told us about one – the remote claw. Like the grappler in Just Cause 2, this gadget lets Batman grab two objects at once, opening up a world of possibilities. Imagine grabbing two enemies at once, for example, or planting two bombs at a time to take out a particularly difficult enemy.

The remote claw multiplies your fighting opportunities

The city of villains

Batman: Arkham Origins promises to be the most villain-packed Batman game to date. In contrast to Arkham City, where we run into some of the baddest bad guys in the saga, this game hosts the first encounter between Batman and some of his archenemies: Joker, The Penguin, etc. Many of the others will be the classic villains that appear in future games, but until now, WB have centered on 3 bad guys that might not be so familiar.

Black Mask In Arkham Origins, Black Mask is the source of all of Batman’s woes. An antagonist who appeared for the first time in a 1985 comic, this cosmetics firm heir stands out for his elegant appearance and black death mask. Although he does indeed run a legal business, his real fortune comes from drug running.

So what does a drug trafficker want with the Dark Knight? And why does he take so much pleasure in torturing his victims? These are the questions that Batman will try to answer in his new (or first, depending on how you look at it) adventure.

The Black Mask, Batman’s archenemy in Batman: Arkham Origins

Another enemy you’re going to hear lots about is Deathstroke. Considered by many to be DC’s best assassin, this masked warrior is everything that Batman isn’t, although in many ways they are very similar. Deathstroke is a veteran mercenary beholden to no one, and although he starts out working for Black Mask, we’ll have to wait to see where his ultimate loyalties lie.

Branden, the third villain in the set, isn’t a bad guy in the classic sense of the word, although he is definitely a threat to Batman. He’s a SWAT team leader, and beyond protecting the city from crime, his focus is firmly on the hunt for Batman, who he believes to be the biggest threat facing the city of Gotham. And what does Gordon think of all this? To be honest, not much – although he will go on to become police chief of the city, at the moment he is merely an inspector. At this point in the story, it’s hard to know how he’ll feel about Batman.

Batman the detective

One of the features of the Arkham saga are Batman’s detective leanings. Although we’ve seen them in previous installations of the saga, in Arkham Origins, the detective element really moves out into center stage. Remember that one of Batman’s objectives is to find out why Black Mask wants to kill him and to find out will visit various crime scenes in the search for more clues and hints.

As a result, Detective mode is going to be even more useful than before. For example, if you need to investigate a murder, you’ll be able to do in-situ ballistics, collect evidence, take DNA samples, and then analyze them all in the quiet of the Batcave. Your Batcomputer will generate re-creations of the scene of the crime that you’ll be able to investigate from all angles, allowing you to discover new clues to solving the crime.

A bit of peace and quiet for the Dark Knight

A new Game of the Year?

Both the public and critics were in complete agreement about previous games in the Arkham Saga. Will they be as united for Batman: Arkham Origins? It’s very likely, taking into account the awesome quality of the game, helped in part by the stellar foundations laid down by Rocksteady and developed by WB.

What are you hoping to see in Batman: Arkham Origins?

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