Batman: Arkham Origins Hands-On Preview – A Demented Delight

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Back in May, I wrote an opinion piece on Batman: Arkham Origins and why I felt the highly anticipated prequel has a lot to live up to simply by being a part of the blockbuster Arkham franchise. The goal of that article was to elaborate further on the improvements made by Warner Bros. Games Montreal and to question whether or not these changes would ultimately work out for the best. It’s also worth noting that the piece was written prior to my trip to E3 in which I was scheduled to finally get a glimpse of how the game was coming along.

Much to my surprise, my appointed time to see the demo ended up turning into a 30-minute hands-on session with the caped crusader himself. After completing the demo, I can confirm now that Batman: Arkham Origins is not only a perfect addition to the series, but it also successfully expands upon Rocksteady’s signature formula with ease. Here are a few more of my thoughts on this game and why you definitely should pick it up this fall.

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At the beginning of our demo, Batman is seen forcefully interrogating one of Black Mask’s accomplices by hanging him upside-down and suspended from a skyscraper. Right from the start we are introduced to a much more cutthroat and unforgiving hero, a trend that is expected to continue throughout the game’s duration. After getting details on the whereabouts of the Black Mask, I was left to start exploring the widely expanded regions of South Gotham.

One new feature that has been added to the overall gameplay experience is an intuitive crime in progress tracking indicator. This tool pinpoints where the most dangerous crimes are being committed by the much more tougher breed of enemies. In the case of Black Mask, I was able to use this device to locate and confront his goons as they were robbing a bank. Most of the enemies remained the same with the one exception of an oversized armored enforcer that setoff the crime indicator in the first place.

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The combat aesthetics in Arkham Origins are virtually the same as they were in the previous game with the only difference being that you can now earn XP points based on how well you perform in battles. You can still use all of Batman’s gadgets to your advantage and receive upgrades accordingly over time. WB Games Montreal has also taken the liberty of adding new enemy types to keep each encounter different from the next. New enemies referred to as The Martial Artists were highlighted in this demo and the right combination of patience while timing attacks proved to be the best way to beat them.

After dealing with all those adversaries, I came to a point in the demo where I was able to try out the vastly improved Detective Mode 2.0. The creative team went about expanding this feature by allowing the player to gather clues from each and every crime scene to tell a story. Batman can examine up to 4 clues from a crime scene and then send the data back to the batcave for further analysis. In the case of this demo, I examined a horrific helicopter crash and what triggered the events leading up to the incident. This feature is already impressive and it has me curious to see what other cases I’ll have to solve once the game ships this fall.

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Once this sequence concluded, I was lead to a building that I believed to be the secret location of the Black Mask. Surprisingly, I was instead violently greeted by Bane and the Joker. These encounters were mostly cinematic setpieces in which both characters working together aimed to provide a jolt of shock value more than anything else. It was at this point and time that the Joker detonated a bomb in the city and the demo came to an abrupt end. Needless to say, the experience very much kept me on the edge of my seat and it makes the wait to play the finished product even more agonizing now.

On the surface, Batman Arkham Origins is shaping up to be another great entry in the series. While it’s evident that the creators are essentially channeling the previous titles for inspiration, they are also succeeding in carving out their own identity within the universe. If you ever played Arkham Asylum and/or Arkham City, then you owe it to yourself to try out this game when it hits stores in October. In the meantime, feel free to check out the latest screenshots from the game below:

Batman: Arkham Origins launches worldwide on October 25th and will be available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC. Did this preview convince you to pickup the game when it hits stores this fall? Please feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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