You can tell the fall season is rapidly creeping up on us. The leaves are changing, children are going back to school, and a slew of videogames are being unleashed (note to self: Pick up GTA 5 on Friday). That being said, yours truly was extended a rather awesome invite into NYC last week by Warner Bros. Interactive. I was shown some pretty neat games, such as the upcoming Lego: Marvel Superheroes game as well as DC Comics’ contribution to the next Scribblenauts game. While both games look fun and hysterical at the same time, I have to say the main feature at the event had to be not only a preview itself, but a chance to test drive Warner Bros. Interactive’s latest installment in the Batman Arkham franchise.
When we last left our digital, non-Argo-directing crimefighter, Arkham City was shut down and the Joker met his demise by his own fault. So where would the next logical step take us? Backwards, of course! Arkham Origins begins on a dark, dark icy Christmas Eve. Batman, in his second year of taking down baddies like mobsters and hoodlums, learns that a bounty of $50,000 has been placed on his head. Turns out supervillain Black Mask put out the hit, which is answered by a rogues gallery of Batman baddies like Deathstroke, Bane, Deadshot, and – of course – The Joker.
The game itself, while appearing to be the same as the past two Batman titles, is not. Origins is essentially Batman 101 – as you progress throughout the game, fighting gangs, supervillains, etc., the game not only trains you to hone your talents as The Bat, but grades you on each gang and boss battle. In addition, unlike the previous titles, Origins challenges you to put away the common button-mashing techniques and use actual combos of blocking, punching, and bat-gadgetry to vanquish your foes.
In the demo, Batman has to track down The Penguin (voiced once again by Nolan North), the local arms dealer, to find out who, what, and where Black Mask is. After a gang fight (which immediately upgrades you) and off to dispatch Penguin, Batman is blindsided by Deathstroke which engages the first boss fight. Again, button-mashing will not really help you here. Deathstroke is super serious AI, and knows when to block and when to fight. The trick (which I learned after only being defeated once – they were pretty impressed), is to also know when to fight and when to flee, and the game gives you clues on when to do these.
Overall, the game looks and feels astounding. Even without it being on next-gen consoles, it seems like Warner has mastered the control scheme for the game. At one point, Deathstroke charges and attempts to pummel Batman and you’re then prompted to continually block his barrage of attacks. Personally, I thought I was blocking slower than I was expected to be, but it worked. The game fights are so incredibly fluid, it makes the last few WWE games look like Frogger.
Batman: Arkham Origins is slated for release on October 25th, on X-Box 360, PS3, WiiU, and PC. A handheld version for PSVita and 3DS will also be available. Origins Single Player is being developed by WB Games Montreal and a Multiplayer game by Splash Damage (that’s right, folks. You and your online buddy will be able to fight 2 separate gangs of 3). I’m sure I’ll have this one pre-ordered on Friday.
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