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Game review: Batman: Arkham Origins

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Batman may be the master of fighting crime and hiding in the shadows, but in Batman: Arkham Origins, he can't escape the shadow of his predecessors. Although adapting and enhancing the combat system from the previous instalments in the Arkham series, it offers little originality and lacks the finesse that made both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City great stealth-action gaming experiences.

The story begins with Batman in his second year donning the cowl, fighting the mob bosses ruling Gotham City. In a bid to get rid of the Bat once and for all, the infamous Black Mask places a bounty of $50 million on the caped crusader's head, attracting eight notorious criminals to collect on Christmas Eve. Despite an interesting premise and a couple of surprising plot twists, some assassins are just side missions while others are only seen briefly once or twice. Instead of major roles within the game, these assassins are mere cameos to be forgotten once the fight is done. Once again, the main focus of the game is the conflict between Batman and the Joker.

Just like its predecessors, Arkham Origins contains a vast array of amazing voice actors. The performances of both Troy Baker as the Joker and Roger Craig Smith as Batman are phenomenal, easily taking over the reins from legends Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy.

Adding on to the great combat features from previous instalments are several new enemy types that eliminate simple button mashing. Most notably, martial artists are able to counter your own attacks, resulting in a chain of counters that require the utmost attention, especially when the prompt signals are absent in the harder difficulty settings. Addressing a major problem with the franchise, Arkham Origins has finally improved upon the boss battles that many considered a low point of the series. Whether it is the aerial fight against Firefly or the heart pumping final showdown, these battles test quick reaction times as familiarity with Batman’s gadgets.

The new crime scene investigations are a fun, albeit lacklustre, addition. While the concept of reconstructing events is appealing, there is little discovery actually involved — instead, just a series of button prompts.

On a more frustrating note, major framerate issues run amok in this game. In my own gameplay experience, gliding from one area to the next would make the screen and audio lag noticeably. Some bugs and glitches also arose, such as one in particular that left an enemy stuck in a wall and prevented me from moving into the next room.

Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but after making it through two thirds of the main story, as well as an additional 10 hours of side missions and trophy collecting, my screen completely froze, forcing me to shut off manually and restart. When I came back to my save file, I discovered that it was corrupted and inaccessible, forcing me to restart the game.

Batman: Arkham Origins is not the best of the trilogy, but it certainly is a great game despite its flaws. It may lack some originality, but it is still a must buy for both die hard fans and curious gamers.

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