In recent years, mobile gaming has become the main method most video game players have used to log the most time playing video games. Whether you’re playing addicting timing and skill-based games like Fruit Ninja or Temple Run, or even strategy games like The Sims or Farmville, people can’t get enough of video games on their mobile devices. A relatively recent phenomenon when it come to console games is creating a mobile, “lite” version of the main experience to be available on these formats, but more often than not, they can be little more than seriously handicapped and/or rigged tools to try and nickel and dime you through micro transactions. Sadly, this largely seems to be the purpose of Batman: Arkham Origins on iOS, which will be available on Android later this year.
Developed by Netherrealm Studios and published by WB Games, this edition of Origins is very similar to the mobile edition of previous DC Comics-based game Injustice: Gods Among Us. While the combat system and unlockables are fun and interesting, the entire experience is critically hampered by the built-in limitations that can only be bypassed by giving up $1 here, or $5 there. The basic premise isn’t dissimilar from Netherrealm’s Arkham City Lockdown, where you find yourself in a different section of Gotham City to stop the machinations of a supercriminal making life miserable. Lockdown, while including some microtransactions, was a more complete experience because it was a game that actually cost money to purchase and play. Like Injustice, Origins is free-to-play, but chances are you’ll find yourself frustrated enough to maybe give them a buck or two if you want to keep going in one round of play.
The biggest indicator of the built-in limitations for your advancement is Batman’s “stamina meter.” Each mission you play costs a couple of bars of stamina, and when it’s all out, you have a choice. Buy a “stamina pack” for a few dollars, or wait 3-5 hours before you can play again with a full meter. This is before getting to some of the more intense missions of the game, where your natural path to upgrade your combat abilities and health will likely be far too little to get the bigger rewards in the form of XP. Guess what? You can buy packs of XP as well! It’s all a little too conveniently structured to encourage microtransactions for me to really enjoy it. If the game was allowed to stand on its own as is, with the stellar touch combat mechanics and graphical presentation shining on their own, then this would definitely be a fun diversion.
If you’re already planning on buying a console version of Origins, then the only real value lies in the linking of both games between one WBID account. This allows you to unlock skins or features in either iteration depending on some accomplishments in either the mobile or console versions, and I find that kind of cross-pollination fun.
Overall, though, Batman: Arkham Origins mobile can be fun, but it’s extremely limiting and a little too oriented to suck nickels out of your pockets. Maybe I’m a little bitter at Netherrealm for it (one time they sucked ten bucks out of me as a kid as I tried to “klimb” the ladder in Mortal Kombat II), but I tend to expect more from any game within the Arkham franchise nowadays. I don’t think it’s very worthy of the name.
Be sure to check out our other coverage of the Batman: Arkham franchise by checking out new reviews of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, our exclusive interview with the voice of Batman in Arkham Origins, Roger Craig Smith, and our full review for the console version of the game!
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