Batman Arkham Origins – Warner Bros. playing it safe

Warner Bros. eagerly anticipated Batman Arkham Origins was always going to have its work cut out, being developed by their Montreal based in-house development studio rather than UK developer Rocksteady Studios who did a wonderful job on the last two Batman games. With much to prove, it seems Warner Bros. have perhaps played it safe with this latest instalment as many critics are pointing out in their analysis of the game.

Origins naturally tells a new story, looking at Bruce Wayne and Batman in his early years and this perhaps cannot be faulted, however the gameplay has been cited as being “too familiar” by a number of reviewers, and perhaps this has been detrimental to the experience. It certainly has had an impact on a number of review scores. The issue of familiarity does raise some valid questions though, for example, should a game be knocked down a peg or two for not straying too far from what gamers expect? Should games in a series always strive to go one better than the previous game? Is there merit in simply not trying to change the formula too much to appease the  fans? There have been a number of games which have tried to reinvent themselves with variable results across the board and some ending up worse off as a result.

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So, if you can imagine the position Warner Bros. were in with the franchise when taking the reigns, can they really be blamed for offering a game which provides  predictability in spades?  They perhaps have played it safe, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing especially as there are lots of game series which spew the same content style year after year with a fresh lick of paint, which remain popular and highly regarded. It’s possible Batman Arkham Origin’s greatest threat comes from expectation and perception. Gamers might be pleased at Warner Bros. effort, in that they’ve not screwed up the franchise, and on the other hand critics are perhaps miffed that Warner Bros. weren’t brave enough to inject something fresh into the game to make it their own. As it stands Batman Arkham Origins, offers a compelling look at Batman and his symbiotic villains which should please fans of the series. However,  if you’re expecting much change from Arkham Asylum, aside from a larger play area and new cast, then perhaps you need to think again about what you liked about the previous two games – because the things that made the past games great are certainly here in abundance without necessarily wanting to or needing to reinventing the wheel.

Batman Arkham Origins is available now via Steam and on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.

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