PAX Prime: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate – First Impressions

Ah, yes… the handheld spin-off Batman game. This seems to be one of those titles you’re either really excited for, or exceptionally sceptical about. The team here is divided on the issue, but we’ll give you our thoughts and let you decide if it’s up your alley or not.

The 3DS demo offers a few levels to choose from. The level “Gotham”, for example, opens with a motion comic style cutscene with a familiar scene—Batman chasing down Catwoman, who is running off after stealing… something. This is apparently most of what drives the story, the interaction between these two characters, so it’s important to pay attention to what happens between them throughout the course of the game.

You’re not going to get a lot of that with just one level of demo play-through, but it’s worth keeping in mind, especially if you’re a fan of the interaction between these two in any other Batman media. In the Arkham series, speaking just in terms of the games, this opening scene is where Batman first meets Catwoman.

In this level, you keep chasing down Catwoman, with Batman doing what he does best—moving from area to area, running around, gliding, trying not to fall off platforms, and leaping between roofs (please resist the urge to shout “PARKOUR!” as you play this level). Yes, you get your grappling gun, and you do get to use it here.

The thing about the demo level is that it’s very linear, so you’re given a very clear path to play through. You don’t really get to use Batman’s abilities to full advantage—or his equipment, despite the potential for using the grappling gun to get up on buildings and explore—but this probably comes down to trying to showcase the features of Batman’s character in a handheld game as opposed to just letting you do whatever and possibly missing out on seeing the full range of motion possibilities.

The folks running the booth assured everyone that in the rest of the game, you’ll get to use more gadgets and explore more as you travel through Blackgate Prison, so this one level isn’t indicative of the full game. Treat it more like a training level, and you won’t come away feeling like you missed something.

But does the whole shebang translate well to a handheld? It’s not as pretty as it looks on the larger consoles, but that’s to be expected on the 3DS. It’s also weird that the game is mostly 2D (or, as some have said, 2.5D), but it’s not as distracting as you might expect.

The combat portion that we experienced is close to the console games, and you attack with one button and defend with another. You’ll get into the rhythm of this after the first battle, and there are ways of strategically positioning yourself to beat the ever-loving snot out of bad guys before they overwhelm Batman.

There are some stealth areas—mostly where you wander around high above, while bad dudes below operate oblivious—and while they will take some getting used to on 2D, after a few attempts it feels more natural. More Batman-y.

Right now, it seems solid enough—let’s hope that will be the case on the game’s release this coming October.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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