Batman Arkham Origins has just been released for Android and It’s free. Batman is one of the more interesting DC heroes (not that that is much of an accolade), and I love NetherRealm’s fighting games; so I immediately downloaded it. How does it play?
I’ve played and enjoyed the Arkham games on the Xbox 360 and they’re some of my favourite titles because of their exploration and combat system. Batman Arkham Origins mobile strips away the exploration and combat system, reducing it down to something that is effectively Injustice: Gods Among Us, with a different skin. In fact I’m fairly sure the combat engine is exactly the same with tweaked visuals.
This is fine as it’s a combat system that actually works well on a mobile or tablet. The problem is that playing Batman Arkham Origins gave me such a sense of de ja vu I wondered why I wasn’t just playing Injustice. I played Iinjustice late, in fact I only downloaded it about two weeks ago and it is already the most played game on my Nexus 7. And if I hadn’t downloaded it I would probably be a whole lot more enthusiastic about Origins. The problem is that Batman is just that, Batman. You fight as Batman, you stare at a loading screen of Batman, all the un-lockables are different Batman suits with varying degrees of perversity, the logo is a moody shot of Batman.. You get the idea.
If you are a die hard Bat-fan and enjoy looking at the different iterations of the character you will find the un-lockable suits a great incentive to keep playing- I however found it tiresome about twenty minutes in when I got a Red Son suit for signing into my Warner Bros account. The different skills gave me something of an incentive to grind up (and it really does feel like grinding at times) but even then skills are limited, and quickly become rather dull. The problem continues with the enemies.
All the non-boss mobs are just the same stereotypical goons. Some of them are dressed in grey, some of them are dressed in orange, and some of them wield guns where others wield an inexhaustible supply of butter knives. And the actual boss fights are only narrowly more entertaining. Each boss has a variety of special moves, and introduces novel controls. For example, to dodge Deadshot’s pistol attack you tap each bullet in mid-air to trigger a bullet-time style dodge. However even with the added combat mechanics it feels a bit drab as the majority of ‘assassins’ look like a rehash of their minions. Bane looks like a slightly bigger goon with some green tubes on his sleeves, and Deadshot looks like a goon in a metallic gimp mask.
The game is therefore plagued by the same problems as its console brother. DC really is scraping the barrel in its choice of villains at this point and this is evident in the visuals of the characters as well as their selection. Injustice solved the grinding problem by making every fight a fight against other DC Universe heroes. This keeps the whole thing visually interesting, and the different play styles and move sets keeps the fighting feeling, if not fresh, at the very least entertaining. Batman Arkham Origins is stuck slightly in that a lot of the fighting feels like grinding, with the promise of a slightly more interesting enemy lingering somewhere down the long line of quickly dispensed henchmen cliches.
The last thing I want to point out is the stamina bar. I hate stamina bars. I hate anything in a game that is designed to limit your play time without you coughing up cash. Origins is trying to be a high end mobile game, a game people actually want to play for longer than it takes to stand in a queue for a coffee and crush some pieces of candy. And on the whole the game is good enough to warrant more extended periods of play so why, oh why, do you limit my play time? I know it is to make me cough up money but you know what, I’m not going to. It’s a good game, but it’s not that good. I might pay a few pounds/dollars to unlock an outfit- maybe (I would be more inclined to spend money on God’s Among Us). But I sure as heck won’t pay to skip a twenty minute cool down window. It’s pretty indicative of the state of mobile games at the moment- caught in a space between trying to offer a console like experience whilst making money of the freemium mobile model.
With all that said this isn’t a bad game. The controls are fun, the graphics are pretty, and the difficulty is a little hard but it doesn’t feel like the game is punishing you for you not buying upgrades. But after kicking the seventeenth grey faced minion in the face I couldn’t get rid of the persistent voice in my head reminding that I could be playing as all my other favorite DC heroes, as well as Batman. If you love Batman and love Injustice you will love this game. If you haven’t tried either game then they are both free, so download them and choose your favorite. Or like them both; they are both doing the combat/fighting genre very well- just don’t expect anything of a story line.
Check out my video review down below.