Even The Bat Has to Start Somewhere...
It’s a story we’re all intimately acquainted with. A young billionaire’s parents are murdered in a back alley by a petty, small-time criminal. The boy, traumatized and aggrieved, swears to rid his city of crime. He begins a decades-long training regimen, perfecting both body and mind; a journey which culminates in a masked crusader taking to the streets.
It’s the story of The Batman, one of the greatest cultural icons ever birthed by the comic book industry. Over the years, we’ve grown to know The Bat – as we’ve come to understand his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne – nearly as well as we know ourselves, sticking with him through countless trials, battles, and adventures. Now, Warner Montreal and Rocksteady Studios are turning back the hands of time a bit. Just as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins explored the origins of the caped crusader, so too will Batman: Arkham Origins.
The game is set just a year after Batman’s ‘arrival’ in Gotham City. Although Batman’s already becoming a legend, he hasn’t quite reached the status at which we see him in Arkham Asylum or Arkham City. He’s not yet crossed paths with The Joker; he hasn’t fully cast his shadow across Gotham’s seedy underbelly. Many mobsters still think he’s little more than a bogeyman, and he hasn’t yet gained the respect of the Gotham PD (which is largely corrupt at this point). Perhaps the only officer willing to give him a chance (and consequently the only honest cop) is future Commissioner James Gordon, who at the time of Origins is a mere captain.
The developers have hinted that the relationship between Gordon and Batman will be a focal point of Arkham Origins, as both men rail from different sides of the law against a police force every bit as corrupt as the criminal organizations that effectively run the city. As Batman cleans up the city, the people of Gotham will come to believe more in Gordon, and consequently in The Bat.
The game is also going to place the somewhat strained relationship between Bruce and his butler / father figure Alfred Pennyworth at center stage, with the latter desperately trying to deal with the youthful ignorance, stubbornness, and arrogance of the former. Given that we’re looking at his formative years, Batman’s obviously going to be a bit rougher around the edges... a bit more primal and a bit more vicious.
Of course, a superhero is only as good as his Rogue’s Gallery, and Batman: Arkham Origins is bringing some very big names to the table. At the center of the game’s plot is the supervillain Black Mask; undisputed leader of Gotham’s criminal underworld. The Mask doesn’t really appreciate The Bat moving in on his turf, and as a result has put out a $50 million bounty on Batman’s head, drawing eight of the world’s deadliest assassins to the city in an effort to claim the bounty. These men include Bane, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Copperhead, and Firefly. Other villains making an appearance will include The Penguin, The Mad Hatter, Anarky, and, of course, The Joker (though we don’t actually know how significant a role he’s going to play).
Gameplay-wise, fans of the previous two games are going to find themselves in very familiar territory, though the developer is implementing quite a few improvements over previous titles. Noteworthy additions include the addition of a fast travel system and a new gadget known as the Remote Claw, which can attach to two points (or foes) and pull them forcibly together. New enemies, too, such as the martial artist, add a new and more strategic angle to the already fluid combat system.
Detective Mode is also receiving a new coat of paint. Batman can now "scrub through" crimes as they may have occurred in the past. This will allow him to work out where to find new evidence and deduce what may have transpired based on what he discovers. At any time, Batman can return to the Bat Cave to review crimes on his computer, some of which span entire swaths of the city. This also ties into a new sidequest system, with
Last but certainly not least, Arkham Origins will introduce multiplayer to the series, with Invisible Predator Mode. This gametype revolves around a gang war between Joker and Bane. Each match pits two teams of three criminals each against one another, with two additional players taking on the role of Batman and Robin.
Everyone has to start somewhere – even Batman. With Batman: Arkham Origins, we’ll take a look into the caped crusader’s formative years, witnessing firsthand his transformation from unknown vigilante into legendary crime-fighter. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s a title in every way worthy of the Arkham pedigree, and definitely one to look forward to.
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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