Another breakout at Blackgate.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a bizarre game. It’s officially part of the Arkham franchise, but it is very different than the previous games we’re familiar with. The game is a 2.5D side-scroller adventure that attempts to have the same gameplay as the console games. However, by doing so, it feels like a cheaper knock-off of the games we loved already.
The game takes place three months after the event of Batman: Arkham Origins where Blackgate prison has a breakout again. Batman must ventures through the three facilities inside the prison, each run by Joker, Penguin and Black Mask. The is like what, the 300th time the prison has a breakout or something? The plot is repetitive, and there’s nothing new to the table. The cut scenes are not the usual ones we’re familiar with, but still frame, graphic novel style that’s not very attractive. You can argue that the game is on handheld, and they have limited capacity, but I don’t think that’s the case. There’re many console games that have handheld version and features better graphics than this game. I don’t know about 3DS, but at least I’m sure PS Vita has the ability.
Funny though, the original reason I got this game is because of the story. Apparently this is the first time Catwoman and Batman met in the Arkham franchise. But the disappointment first encounter is not enough to make this game any better.
The gameplay is the same as the previous games. You either fight off the enemies, or you take them out in predator mode one by one. However, after being so familiar with the console controls, this one can be quite awkward. Some buttons are not as responsive as others, and sometime you can’t interact with your surroundings until you try really hard. For example, you need to press a button to open up a crate, but nothing happened. It turns out you have to wait for the indicator to show up before pressing the button. This makes the gameplay really glitchy, and it can be really frustrated.
The predator mode can be quite problematic as well. Some predator gameplay puts you in a large environment with many vintage points and smoke screen objects such as fire extinguishers. However, the big environment can really have you lose track of Batman considering how small the handheld screen is.
I don’t understand how Batman comes to Blackgate so ill-prepared considering this takes place after Arkham Origins. He only has his Batarang equipped, and he needs to collect other weapons such as Explosive Gel at the Wayne Tech crates around the prison. You have no idea how frustrated is it knowing exactly what gadget you need to solve a puzzle, but you don’t have it yet. Also, the plot failed to explain why Batman has all the crates all over the prison, considering they’re some high-tech weaponry in a maxim security prison.
The only thing I enjoy is the combat system. It’s essentially the same as other Arkham games, where you can hit, counter and stunned your enemies in a flow. The lack of 3D environment actually makes the combat more fun, as you don’t have to worry about your enemies coming from blind-sided directions. So yeah, this is the only place where I enjoy the game being side-scroller.
The Detective Mode is actually quite fun in this game. You can touch your screen on the Vita version and swipe through places you want to investigate. The 3DS version you need to use the Circle Pad to scroll through the game. It’s not as smooth as the Vita version, but it’s nothing hindering your gameplay.
The Vita version looks a little better than the 3DS version, but it’s really cool to play the game in 3D on 3DS. However, the cut scenes are only in 2D, and that’s a disappointment.
As I stated before, the story of the game can be quite repetitive, and the first meeting between Batman and Catwoman is not that special either. However, the game does further solidified the possibility of Suicide Squad in future game where the entire game is cut between scenes where Amanda Waller is recurring villains for her Suicide Squad. Hopefully that game will be better.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is not a good extension of the franchise. It’s doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but at least it allows us to see what this franchise will look like on handhelds. The gameplay seems water down from what we known, and the story is not engaging or interesting. The game is a disappointment, but at least we have more insights on what the possible future game will be about.