With only about two weeks left until launch, it was a little surprising that Batman: Arkham Origins was being displayed on just a single PlayStation 3 console that was itself off the beaten path from the main show floors at New York Comic Con. When I eventually found my way to it, people were more interested in the nearby Superman 75th anniversary fanfare at the DC booth, which was pretty damn impressive due to their display of multiple Superman costumes throughout the decades. However, equally impressive in its own right was the demo for Arkham Origins, and even though I only had a small sample, it's looking like it could be the best in the series.
Gotham and Batman look as breathtaking as they ever have. Snow constantly falls and blankets the city, reflecting off the varied types of light that come together to great effect, casting realistic, deep shadows across the urban landscape. While it may seem familiar, most of Gotham will be new and look very different from the other games in the series. Batman, particularly the Batsuit and his grisly facial expressions, have never looked better. His cape shimmers in the snowy light as Batman stalks Gotham looking for crime, and as he perched atop a skyscraper, the in-game scene showed his bristled faced and stoically gritted teeth as he observed his city.
What really struck me were the incredible cutscenes, which showed a Bane that looked like a cross of his Luchador and The Dark Knight Rises costumes ripping Batman through the ceiling of an elevator and bludgeoning him against walls like a ragdoll, only to be brought to the Joker who demolishes one of the tallest buildings in Gotham right before Batman’s eyes - it’s impressively exhilarating and a joy to just sit back and watch. Batman: Arkham Origins really uses every ounce of power that the current-gen consoles have to offer and is simply beautiful to behold.
Roger Craig Smith, who takes over the cowl from the beloved Kevin Conroy, works very well as a younger Batman, and even though the absence of Conroy is noticeable, Roger Craig Smith performs very well, delivering his lines with great force and emotion.
For the most part, the gameplay remains relatively unchanged, though the free-flow combat definitely feels a bit tighter, as does grappling and gliding across the city. The demo had Batman infiltrating a building in order to look for a bomb, facing different types of thugs and criminals along the way.
Alfred speaks to Bruce through his cowl, offering advice, as well as side missions that detail criminal activities that are occurring in the area that Batman is in. More use of Batman’s stun-cape ability is required, as Bane-like enemies appeared more frequently, requiring multiple stuns in order to take down.
While most of Batman’s new gadgetry wasn’t included in the demo, it did focus on the use of one of the additions to Arkham Origins: the Remote Claw. When you go to perch in a room that contains a bunch of thugs that you need to stealthily take down, you can always use the normal Bat-Claw, but the Remote Bat-Claw allows for more creative and unique take downs that don’t require Batman constantly grappling to other corners of a room.
By targeting either an enemy or an object that can be used against them, the Remote Claw will string up criminals to the ceiling from across the room, send something flying at their heads to take them down, or throw them into some random object on the floor or against the wall. You could traditionally stalk guards by zipping across the room, but the Remote Claw is much more entertaining.
The Arkham series has been a testament of what can be done with superheroes and videogames, and Batman: Arkham Origins looks to be another incredibly amazing title. Get ready to traverse Gotham and evade the assassins looking for Batman’s head on October 25th.