Batman Arkham Origins – Are People Becoming Tired of The Bat?
The recent release of Batman: Arkham Origins has been met with somewhat of a lukewarm reception compared to the other entries in the franchise. Some may point the finger at the numerous bugs present in the game; others find the story lacking. Is the Batman, or at least the Arkham brand, losing its appeal?
Arkham Asylum and City garnered high praise for almost every element of the respected experiences, with the extremely tight core gameplay of both titles being the focal point of much of the laudation. The fluent combat offered both accessibility and depth in a wonderfully crafted system. So much so that it’s now became something of a benchmark in modern video games that involve hand-to-hand combat.
On top of that, the stories of both games made sure to include the A-list of Batman villains that fans of both screen and comic would recognize. Developers Rocksteady ‘got’ Batman; they understood how to make a solid game set in the Batman universe.
This is perhaps why Origins hasn’t been met with quite as much critical success. Rocksteady are no longer at the helm, and thus the Arkham line has been placed into the care of one of Warner Brothers’ in-house developers. With Rocksteady gone, the franchise is in that awkward transitional state, which is not an uncommon situation for a video game franchise to be in these days, but is this the reason why Origins is not enjoying as much success as its predecessors?
In terms of bugs, they tend to pop up in most major releases these days, as unfortunate as that may be, but it’s the severity of said bugs that defines the criticism aimed at the games. Origins seems to have fallen victim to a number of issues that either heavily hinder the player’s experience or break the game entirely. This has, of course, lead to a number of disgruntled players, and has even spawned some angry videos from big Youtubers, which really is not what anyone would want for their game nowadays.
However, even when putting the bugs aside, a growing number of people have started to express their disappointment in the game’s story and villain roster. At this point in time the Arkham games have featured the most popular and, in the Joker’s case, iconic villains of the Batman universe. Unfortunately Origins finds itself in the difficult position of including some of the more obscure villains. Subsequently this leaves the more casual Batman fan a little bemused as to who these characters are. It’s a problem that is firmly in the ballpark of the player, as full-on fans of Batman will no doubt love seeing the lesser-known villains brought to life, whereas the more casual fans will most likely be looking to Google to provide the answers, but it creates somewhat of a divide.
All that being said, however, the main complaint voiced towards Origins seems to be regarding the lack of progression from Arkham City, the previous entry in the franchise. The areas of evolution from Asylum to City are easy to identify: the combat was improved upon and made deeper; the world was bigger and fleshed out; there were more gadgets and puzzles; and the story was much larger in scale. Origins, in comparison, seems to be a step to the side rather than forward. But given the franchise’s transitional state, perhaps this was to be expected? Or perhaps people have just become somewhat jaded with the franchise.
With the Arkham line ostensibly becoming an annual franchise, with semi-frequent spin-offs on hand-held systems, the chances of ‘franchise fatigue’ setting in are increasing with each release. It’s a perfectly natural process; after all, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The future of the Akrham brand will no doubt be solid, because as a brand Batman is still lucrative, but perhaps it’s time to lower the expectations we’ve had after the likes of Asylum and City.