Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Definitive Edition (Xbox Arcade) Review
Posted by Stewart Lange on 04.05.2014
The 3DS sequel to Batman: Arkham Origins gets a console remaster, but how does it fare against the heady standards set by the franchise so far? 411's Stewart Lange checks in with his full review!
Title: Arkham Origins Blackgate- Definitive Edition
Review Format: Xbox 360 (Arcade) (Multi format release)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Armature Studio
When I played Blackgate for the 3DS, I just wasn't too fond of it, but mainly because I was just so used to having played my Batman games on the 360 so the control scheme on the 3DS was slightly strange to me- considering it's the same 4 buttons in a different order. There was a lot of swearing when I kept missing that block button by hitting X. I'm glad that I've had a chance to revisit this title to properly make my mind up about it, especially as I sold my 3DS before having a chance to finish the game.
I got to talking with a friend of mine recently about the news that Ben Affleck was set to play Batman. We went back and forwards on it and while we didn't come to any great conclusions on that, he did seem to think that there's a bit of a Batman overload at the moment. While I don't really agree, I know what he means. It seems like the Bat is everywhere right now, despite it being over a year since the last movie, before which it was four years. Arkham Asylum was the first in the current series of Batman games, came out in 2009 and has spawned two sequels in four years. So, in the last five years, we've had two movies and three games. Doesn't seem too bad, but include all the fallout from the Dark Knight, rumours and gossip surrounding the Dark Knight Rises, an appearance in Injustice and all this BatFleck news, I start to see his point and having just finished Arkham Origins, I was wary of picking up Blackgate. This was before we consider Origins was maybe the most flawed of the Arkham trilogy, for a few reasons and despite it still being a good Batman game, I was glad to have finished it.
Picking up where Origins left off, Blackgate was the portable sequel to the 360 and PS3 release. The game starts with Batman meeting Catwoman after he's put Gotham back to rights, with Black Mask, the Joker and all of the other bad guys safely behind bars. After chasing down Selena Kyle and eventually catching her, she winds up behind bars in Blackgate. Three months later and an impending takeover of the prison from rioting gangs forces an unlikely alliance between the two as Catwoman takes her place as old “Bats'” girl on the inside so she can get a transfer to a lighter security jail. Unfortunately for the Caped Crusader, though, the three main parts of the jail are controlled by men with grudges against him. Men he jailed on Christmas Eve three months ago; The Penguin, The Joker and Black Mask. Each part of the prison controls something, for example, the Black Mask's area holds the power. Strewn throughout these levels are numerous henchmen and even some cameos with other villains as sub-bosses. None of these boss battles are as fun as they are in the main console games, with some bosses verging from console-snapping frustrating (The Penguin) to mind-numbingly repetitive (Solomon Grundy). This is a shame because the combat against groups of thugs remains fairly faithful otherwise and I was left feeling like the bigger set pieces could have been done better. The cut-scenes are done like full panel comic images and work well, but some animation would have been pretty cool.
The controls definitely feel off in comparison to the main series counterparts. The combat is slower, with me very rarely having to use the counter button against standard thugs, as their attacks come much slower than they maybe should and I could hit them in the time it took them to swing at me. The predator encounters are present but much smaller scale than we're used to, with no more than 5 people to take out at any one time, although they are tough because they're generally against a group of machine gun toting bad guys. They spot you pretty easily I've noticed but by the time you get to the tougher ones you should have been able to upgrade your armour enough to get through the encounters even with a few bullet wounds.
The graphics have been upgraded and the game looks pretty nice, certainly on par with early 360-era retail games. I don't know what it looks like on the other formats, but the Xbox version is nice enough. The sound is pretty good too, with it doing exactly what it needs to. The issues in the 3DS version seem to be mostly fixed, especially with the mini-map. It was extremely hard to tell what you were meant to be doing and where you were within the games 4 main sections, meaning you'd be wandering around quite a lot without knowing what to do next. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the biggest gripe I have with this game= you DO wander about an awful lot.
The game isn't huge. It has nowhere near the same scale as even Arkham Asylum and rather than working around this in a clever way, the developers would rather send you from point A to B, to find it's blocked. Back to point A, then, to jump across to one of the other sections in the game to try and find what you need get past what blocked your way on the first section. Rinse and repeat. There is a HUGE amount of backtracking in Blackgate and after a while it becomes pretty unacceptable. Computer codes you find out you need are in other sections and with no fast travel options, you're constantly running between the areas of the prison trying to figure out what on earth you're meant to be doing.
If you really need a Batman fix before Arkham Knight comes out, this should suffice but don't get it thinking it's Arkham 3.5 when it's just not on the same level as the existing games. The combat is there, there are some cool cameos and you get to mess around with detective mode, but your money would be spend better elsewhere until this at least gets a price drop.
Certainly very good for a downloadable game.
Doesn't fare well against the main series. Lots of backtracking and irritation.
It's there, but nothing special
This was a definite one and done for me
You're still Batman. That means something. Just a shame it's not a badass Batman.