I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to writing this particular blog post. Typically when talking about certain types of games on this blog I would try to hold back my criticisms so I could have an open discussion about my thoughts on particular games in particular genres. I also try not to make it seem like I am heavily favoring one side. I am not always successful, but I at least try to sound impartial. This month made it especially hard though because both games I’ve covered so far have been very good. I tried to downplay this when I talked about them, but there is no denying they were good games. Obviously they have some flaws, but they were solidly make games and at such I could only really add nitpicks when I talked about them. Most of my insistence on trying to do this is related to next week’s topic which can probably be generally understood with basic pattern recognition skills at this point. However, I get a break before that and get to talk about this game and how it is so cliché. So without further ado, let’s just dive right on in.
Let’s first start with the story. You know I can’t resist a good story and so by law I have to try and spend at least some time looking at it. Usually that is because story contributes to the flow of the game and contributes to its pacing. However since this game is a sandbox, pacing doesn’t really mean anything and story is more than content to cry in a corner for a few hours while you search for collectibles. Essentially the story involves eight assassins after Batman’s life after a hit put out by the Black Mask and as the story goes on you find out that a mysterious someone is pulling the strings behind the scenes. Nothing really wrong with it in terms of story except for one minor detail. As you should know, this game is called Batman: Arkham Origins, which by the way is the one of the cliché names for a prequel game ever. So since it is so obviously a prequel game, you know that none of this matters since obviously Batman appears in later games anyway. There are never any stakes involved when you use a existing character in an earlier game. However, since it is a sandbox that barely matters anyway. What does rile me up a bit though is the “plot twist” in this game. You know how in Batman: Arkham City, Joker dies at the end (spoilers) and you are like wow they aren’t going to rely on Joker for the plot of the next game. Well guess who the mysterious person is working behind the scenes is in this prequel game. That’s right, it was Robin all along! Not really of course but that twist would have been amazing and I would pay for the game just for that. No the bad guy is actually the Joker (spoilers) and so once again the story falls into predictability. It this doesn’t reek of cliché then I don’t what else could qualify. So for a change of scent let’s see if the gameplay is just as stagnant as the story.
Now I could go home early going with the short answer of yes and calling it a day, but that would be a bit misleading. The combat and stealth as fun as they were in Batman: Arkham City. The problem is they are the same as they were in Batman: Arkham City. There has been no significant change in the gameplay structure that hasn’t already been done in previous games, which is a weird thing to say for a prequel game. Of course, being a prequel game it isn’t allowed to do anything crazy anyway since it come before two different games. However, Batman: Arkham Origins still has abilities or alternate versions of gadgets from Batman: Arkham City. One example that really sticks out to me is the glue grenade which acts exactly the same as the freeze grenade from Batman: Arkham City. You can’t make me believe that for both games he left such a useful piece of technology just collecting dust in the Batcave. This is the most paranoid man on the planet so there is no way he is only bringing some of his arsenal. Oh and before I move on from talking about how the people that made this game essentially copy and paste pretty much everything from Batman: Arkham City and made it bigger, I should note they added a fast travel system with the Batwing. However, when a game built around gliding off rooftops gives me the option to do it less, it makes me wonder if they are doing it because the map is too big for the game or it isn’t interesting enough to explore. I don’t want to call anyone out so I will begrudgingly say that is was probably both.
Before we end I do want to say that not all prequel games are cliché. Prequel games can be used to tell more about a world that you didn’t know before and can give you insights into characters that you didn’t know about before. It becomes a cliché prequel when the game play is the same as before and the story is inconsequential. The game just plays it safe so the people who made it can made some money off an existing franchise. I do acknowledge that this was not made by the same people who made the Arkham series, but if you want it to not have a connection to the main series, then just make a spin-off game instead. It definitely leaves a lot less room for plot holes in the story and gameplay. Maybe one day I will cover a prequel that actually enhances a series rather than just wallowing in its success. for now though, this falls under the prequel cliché because the developers just wanted to use the name of an already existing franchise to make a quick buck. If you somehow are still not convinced about this game not having an original idea in its coding I will say one last thing before signing off. The game takes place during Christmas Eve. See you next time for the end of Arkham month.