Ever since Batman: Arkham Origins was first revealed as May’s featured cover story from Game Informer magazine, fans everywhere have been clamoring for more information on the caped crusader’s latest adventure. Several media outlets kicked the rumor mill into high gear by posting numerous speculative articles about what the game would feature based on leaked details and screenshots.
While all of these aspects of coverage had to be expected, the one question that remains looming today is if newly formed studio Warner Bros. Games Montreal is capable of making an Arkham game as good as the others. It’s no secret that Warner Bros. Interactive have been heavily marketing this title as being the latest entry in the series, and that especially sounds suspicious when Rocksteady Studios aren’t even the ones developing it.
Nonetheless, Arkham City director Sefton Hill has graciously endorsed Warner Bros. Games Montreal and has complete faith that they will exceed any and all expectations. As a hardcore fan of Rocksteady’s work on the Batman franchise, I must say that I definitely believe his claims. However, I also feel that in order for them to make a good game they would have to execute perfectly in at least three key areas. In this article, I’m going to elaborate further on these factors and how they can effectively make or break the series as a whole.
Narrative and Cast
Naturally when it comes to trilogies in both the gaming and film world, the general rule of thumb has always been to use the third sequel to provide a definitive ending to an ongoing story arc. Film director Christopher Nolan took this approach when he successfully concluded his Dark Knight Trilogy last July. In the case of Arkham Origins, Warner Montreal is essentially working their way backwards to flesh out a backstory. This is intriguing on two fronts because it provides fans the opportunity to see a different side of Batman while also giving further context to the earlier sequels in the series.
Armed with the writing talents of renowned Assassin’s Creed series writer Corey May, the storyline behind Arkham Origins is already sounding like a certifiable winner. The idea of placing a younger, more inexperienced Batman within the confines of a world where 8 different lethal assassins are fixated on hunting him down has all the makings of a recipe for greatness. Of course, how all of this ends up being executed upon could be the sole difference maker between a bad sequel and a successful one.
The use of a dynamic cast of characters and their individual performances throughout the game will also play a major part in this concept. With Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy’s minimal involvement on the project and Mark Hamill’s absence as the Joker, the question now becomes whether or not the new voice actors can successfully carry the torch left by their peers. Lastly, another interesting question is whether or not each boss encounter will have some type of memorable essence to it. I still get chills down my spine when I recall my encounters with the Scarecrow in Arkham Asylum. Hopefully Warner Montreal took note of these moments and is committed to making them a standard in Arkham Origins.
When it comes to gameplay dynamics, the previous Arkham games succeeded in defying the odds and effectively redefining what a Batman game is and how it’s meant to be played. With an insanely engaging combat system and the use of cool gadgets, Rocksteady was able to not only make Batman the badass that he truly is but they also made you feel like you were the caped crusader himself.
With the release of Arkham Origins, Warner Montreal will no doubt keep the core gameplay concepts intact while also exploring ways to keep the experience fresh and unique for both new and old fans alike. The combat system now offers a tracking feature that lets players know how efficient they are in battles. Detective mode also allows players to reenact events that may have taken place on various crime scenes throughout Gotham. While both of these features sound great, the true test will be in seeing how they function collectively as a whole. Will they enhance the overall gameplay experience or take away from it? Ultimately, only time will tell just how successful these ventures are.
Environment and Expansion
One of the successful cornerstones of the Arkham Asylum experience lies within the impressive environment that the game took place in. From the menacing jail corridors to the varied courtyards connecting one building to another, the setting remained simple and compelling enough to navigate through. When developing Arkham City, Rocksteady Studios expanded that world to give Batman even more bad guys to confront and avenues to explore.
In Arkham Origins, the creative team has already confirmed that the environment will be twice as big as Arkham City and that a fast travel system will be implemented for enhanced navigation. While many fans may love this concept, the idea of there being too much to explore is one area that will definitely overwhelm some. With a game like Arkham Origins, bigger may not necessarily mean better but the studio can go a long way towards making you want to see everything that this expanded Gotham has to offer. Once again, execution is everything and if they do succeed in making players want to explore the world in full then they will undoubtedly have a hit on their hands.
This concludes my list on why Batman: Arkham Origins could potentially make or break the series as a whole. I plan on checking out this game more during E3 2013 and will do a follow-up article of my updated impressions shortly afterward. Are all of you excited for Batman: Arkham Origins? Do you think it has a shot at being the best entry in the series? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.