There’s a very fine line when it comes to your sequel being either option A; changing the formula too much to the extent that people scream “You’ve ruined it!” and option B; where people wonder why your game exists at all; seeing as it may as well be the previous one put on repeat. Batman: Arkham Origins seems to have taken option B all the way, with a very sad consequence, as this game might very well be the herald going out to the world that makes people think: “Oh I wish they would give this Batman thing a break.” Which is ultimately quite a sad to have to go through, but which will probably be positive in the long term. So there’s that at least.
With the arguable exception of some of the Spiderman games from the previous generation; the only superhero games of any worthy note have been those of the Batman: Arkham series, first released in 2009. With a combination of fluid, satisfying combat, detective work, gadgets, and stealth, the series succeeded wonderfully in its main aim: making you feel like you were Batman himself. This was expanded upon in its sequel two years later; Batman: Arkham City. Mixing up the use of Batman’s quality villain line up as threats, an extremely solid foundation was built.
And so we come to Origins. A prequel in terms of plot, highlighting the early years of Batman’s vigilantism and his first encounter with some of his most notable villains; and with definite points stolen from the popular movie series of modern times, which interestingly is something the previous games never felt they had to do. This may be down to the fact that the main studio that made the series a success, Rocksteady, was not involved with this project. This is a major warning sign first of all. To be clear: Origins has the exact same satisfying feel of the previous games, it is by any standard on its own, a good game and a good Batman game. But it has almost literally no original ideas of its own, and features some of the most blatant copy-pasting and slap-dash work that a person could imagine.
The open world city is nice, but feels rather empty, aside from generic collectables, and the missions are generally all things that we have seen before. Even the side quests are repeats with a coat of paint on from the previous titles. The villains themselves seem rather bottom of the barrel to be taken seriously as a threat, and Batman doesn’t really employ any new methods and techniques we have not experienced before. It feels like just going through the motions.
Batman: Arkham Origins was fun, but made me sad. With several noticeable bugs and plot holes that were unaddressed, along with the lazy reuse of assets, it made me feel like the team on this one just didn’t care and wanted a pay check. A series of combat missions and a lackluster multiplayer mode are nice to have, but can’t save a core game on their own. On its own, this game is above average, but when taken into consideration with other games in its own franchise, it just reeks of mediocrity of the worst kind, which is mediocrity when you had something really amazing already in place. Please come back Rocksteady.