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It’s official. The Batman Arkham video game series is now a trilogy with the Friday release of Arkham Origins. Though not quite a rarity when it comes to successful series, few have taken an older property to such impressive heights as Rocksteady Studios has with Batman.
The game doesn’t waste too much time getting into the action: in this prequel, Batman is fresh to the world. Most people still believe he’s a myth, James Gordon is an honest Captain in a mostly corrupt police force and Batman has never even HEARD of the Joker (trust me, it works). After a series of impressive cutscenes, we find ourselves right in the action, responding to a Blackgate prison break orchestrated by Black Mask. Little does he know there’s a $50 Million bounty on his head, and some of the world’s greatest assassins are looking to collect…
The first worry I had going in was the replacement of one of the best portrayers of Batman in any media, Kevin Conroy. While there is a hole that doesn’t quite get filled, Roger Craig Smith, voice actor of Resident Evil’s Chris Redfield and Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio Auditore, is arguably the best possible second place with his portrayal of a five-year younger Caped Crusader. Also, without any spoilers, at least none you haven’t already seen on IMDB, Troy Baker (Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us) is a surprisingly spirited choice for a role originated by Mark Hamill. I’m also impressed by how I haven’t played this series for almost a year and how natural the controls felt after all that time. That’s the mark of a great series.
While the game is technically the prettiest in the series, quite an accomplishment for the series, there are some issues. The frame rate is miserable for loading and preloading screens, even with the game installed on the hard drive. In additional, the game has crashed on me three times already, which is sad for little over five hours of gameplay. What I’ve played so far has been fantastic, but I’d easily have doubled my playtime if not for the post-crash frustration and forum searching for many others who are experiencing the same problems, regardless of the platform.
Despite the problems, I’m still eager to get into this. The fight scenes are beautiful, the new mechanics are fun and there’s a lot to do in a pre-“Arkham City” Arkham City. Hopefully a patch will be out soon to make the rest of the experience smooth sailing.