Before 2009, the video game medium’s relationship with the Dark Knight was…problematic at best. Throughout the history of home console gaming, Batman was fortunate enough to have a few good hits: the ’89 Batman movie game, the 16-bit Batman Returns brawler, and the animation-derived Batman Vengeance on the PS2/Xbox/GameCube. As was common for superhero games, though, most interactive outings in Gotham City were considered missteps.
That changed in August of 2009 with the release of Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham Asylum. That outing by the British studio appropriately took gamers and Bat-fans alike by storm, since it was rooted in the darkness and mystery befitting some of the most definitive Batman tales of the modern comics. Two years later, the studio released Batman: Arkham City, which did what any good game sequel does: takes what we love from the first outing, and makes it bigger, bolder, and better. When it came out, it was practically everything I’d have wanted from a Batman gaming experience, and since the Dark Knight is pretty much my favorite fictional character, Arkham City stands as one of my all-time favorite video games.
As a result of the success of both games, the Batman: Arkham franchise has become quite the powerhouse for WB’s games division, and it’s now time to revisit Gotham City with the same engine that drove the first two games. This is coming in the form of Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel taking place within the first two years of Batman’s crimefighting career, as Robin has yet to enter the picture and Batman himself is experienced, but not as seasoned as he is in the first two games.
The Electronics Entertainment Expo is going on now, and though we’d seen some cinematic trailers and gameplay screenshots, we’d yet to see any actual gameplay footage. Until now, that is. Check it out below!
I think the game looks very solid, but there are a couple of components that have me worried. The first, most obvious one is that Rocksteady Studios, the developer of the first two games in the series, is not the primary developer of this game. This isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but it is something that should probably be taken into account before diving into intense anticipation for the game. While it’ll be pretty cool to see characters like Black Mask, Deathstroke, Bane, the Penguin, and the Joker several years before the events of the first game in the series, it’s hard not to feel a little sad about Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill not being back this time for their respective roles of Batman and the Joker.
Either way, though, Batman: Arkham Origins seems poised to be one of this fall’s major game releases, and should make for quite an interesting swan song for the current generation of consoles. Now that the attention is squarely focused on the likes of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, Arkham Origins has the potential to give PS3 and 360 owners quite the sendoff before the Batman: Arkham franchise inevitably returns to game systems on the next generation.
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