Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

2:00 PM on 10.31.2013 // Ian Bonds

Dull detective

Batman: Arkham Origins tries to tell the tale of how the Dark Knight was first introduced to many of his iconic foes. It was built on the groundwork of previous games in the series, and while the story may have faltered a bit the gameplay remained mostly the same, taking Batman to various locations around Gotham City as he gathered intel and weapons to take down the villains who held the city in their clutches. Say what you will about this prequel, but the formula is there for a decent "Metroidvania"-style adventure.

Blackgate seeks to do the same on handhelds, albeit with more of a 2.5D perspective, and a bite-sized story set just a few months after Origins. While in theory this plan sounds good enough, its execution leaves a lot to be desired.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (3DS, PS Vita [reviewed])
Developer: Armature Studios
Publisher: Warner Brothers Games
Release Date: October 25, 2013

MSRP: $39.99

Blackgate begins with ol' Batsy running into (and chasing) Catwoman after he seemingly stumbles on to her robbing some government facility. After a brief tutorial as you chase Catwoman up a few buildings, he catches her and sends her to Blackgate Prison. Soon, he realizes the prison may be a bit too rough an environment for a mere thief.

In exchange for her safety, she strikes a deal with him to provide intel while he infiltrates the prison, as its three most notorious -- and recent -- inmates have taken over. Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker are each running a section of the prison, and Batman must traverse each one, fighting prison gangs and obtaining random WayneTech weapons hidden around.

The plot is a fairly thin one, but it serves well enough to get you into Blackgate, and lays out the gameplay for Metroidvania fetch quests scattered around each section of the prison. The map is set up in such a way that you can chose whichever section you wish to start in, but invariably you'll have to backtrack and head to another area to find an item needed to advance. And there is a lot of backtracking.

That's the problem with Blackgate right from the outset: no matter where you start, you end up having to go to a different section before you can complete the first. The game advertises that you can defeat the three main villains in any order, which by the time you unlock everything is mostly true, but it's never how you set out at the beginning.

As you maneuver your way through the halls and ducts of the prison, you'll come across inmates that you'll naturally have to fight. This is where the 2.5D perspective loses some of its allure. While the camera may shift while walking so you can see around corners or down shafts, when in combat you may encounter enemies that are standing just above or below the plane you're on, making combat tricky.

In the console versions, Batman could switch between targeted foes on the fly using the analog stick pointed in the direction he wanted to attack. That almost works here, but usually, you're just going to wail on the guy closest to you 'til they're down, as targeting doesn't quite have the finesse on the handheld as it does in the console version. At least the controller inputs are the same.

That is to say, the button layout is the same, but sometimes the desired effect isn't quite there. Pressing the counter button requires accurate timing, and while it seemed like I had it in the console version, something felt off here. The same thing can be said for the cape stun, as pressing the button (especially when prompted in specific scenarios) only had it actually doing what it should about half of the time. Even when it did work, it would occasionally confuse Batman, and I'd end up facing away from the enemy I just stunned, allowing them to come-to by the time I turned around. Because of this, combat feels sloppy and hollow, and doesn't quite have the same punch as its bigger brother.

Graphically, we run into a similar issue. While I already assumed it would be scaled down a bit for the handheld, there are noticeable effects that just end up being distracting. The standard look of the game is detailed and sharp, retaining a similar aesthetic to the console version.

When zoomed in however, things get a little muddier. During dialogue sections facial animation is non-existent; characters flail about wildly as they speak and defeated enemies phase eerily into the floor. Cut scenes however make use of comic-strip-like animations, which are very well done...well, except for the voice acting and terrible dialogue. Even by comic-book standards, this is very hokey.

There are a few new features in the game, utilizing the touch screens of the handhelds. Detective vision is activated by tapping the screen, and you can scan the environment by running your finger (or stylus) over the screen to search around for clues or learn helpful information about how to get past certain obstacles such as grates that can be popped with a well-aimed batarang. It's a minor feature, but one of the neater additions to the game.

However, when it comes right down to it, Blackgate is just a bit on the boring side. Since the combat is so uneven, fights either get frustrating due to poor control input or end up being over too quickly. Sneaking up on foes for silent takedowns can be ludicrously easy in one section, and nigh impossible in another. Dropping from the rafters just doesn't have the same effect as it does in the console version, as the camera barely pans back enough to get the scope of the room, let alone the height of the ceiling in certain areas isn't even enough to stay hidden from most sightlines.

The worst problem, however, is all the backtracking is needlessly empty. Once foes are defeated, they're gone for good. I'm never usually a fan of respawning enemies, but running through corridor after corridor of bleak, prison-gray nothingness just gets tedious after a while without something to do other than just traveling.

Not to mention the fact that the in-game map is pretty much useless. The icons don't effectively define where you've been, what needs to be done, or what the icons even mean. They just show you a general way to go, but not really how to get anywhere, or even what floor of a building you're on. Just terrible.

I really wanted to like Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. It took a style of game I enjoy, but put everything together inside it so shoddily I wondered if a little more development time wouldn't have served this game better. However, since the console version of Origins is as buggy as it is, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Blackgate feels just as unfinished and sloppy. At least it doesn't take more than five hours to beat.



THE VERDICT

3

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Reviewed by Ian Bonds
Insulting - I feel mocked by this game. It's engaging for just long enough to pull the rug out from under me and scream in my ear, "surprise! I suck!"

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Ian Bonds, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Ian is Dtoid's resident review monkey. If there is a game no one else wants to review, it usually goes to Ian. As a reviewer, Ian has been writing for close to ten years for various sites, starti... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Discussion Discussion on Games

PStoid Episode 38: Doomed from the Box Art

Cblogs of 2/9/16 - Only Slightly Late Edition

Narrative Mistakes: Mass Effect's Reapers As Primary Villains

Journey to Become a Jedi Knight - Jedi Outcast

Waifu Wars - The End

Hindsight Part II: Unreleased Games of the Past

Robbing Kirby of his Greatest Asset

The meaning of The Witness (Part 3 of 3)

Friday Night Fights: War Never Changes Edition

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

ikiryou avatarikiryou
Never be first to avert your eyes when locked in a staring contest with a cat. You must push through the pain if you ever wish to become truly whole, to win this eternal conflict of wills. Bonus XP is awarded on Thursdays!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
S Magala Plate first fight! :D
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I have basic knowledge of two other languages (with certificates to prove so) and I decided today that soon I shall be fluent in both. One at a time though.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
If you had to pick one: Firewatch, Not a Hero, or Layers of Fear?
Shinta avatarShinta
I'm soooo glad that they kept the gyroscope controls intact with Gravity Rush Remastered, and that they work well. First Dual Shock 4 game to ever use them well. If you turned them off in options, you're really missing out. Helps you fine tune aim.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Even Luigi gets it.
Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Alone With the Psychopath (2014) - I wrote this song after being inspired by the Epic Rap Battle of History between Jack the Ripper and Lecter. I think it sounds neat, and doesn't rip off too much from the song that inspired it =p
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
Tell me who downvoted my smash 4 opinion or the cat gets it. I'm not joking around.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Is that new digimon game any good or no? I know there's the review but I'd like feedback from a couple others too
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
People bitching that "(insert character) Needs Nerfing" because they lost to them several times online, incoming in T-5 days.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
For some reason I had a dream that I was playing a new Jet Set Radio game. It was open world and had an amazing day/night cycle. It was wonderful, yet horrible...
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
4.6 Million XCOM operatives down and down! [url]https://xcom.com/xcom-2-stats[/url] 66% from Collateral damage. Never mind the Alien invasion, cars are the real threat
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has cat-maids. It has cat-maids. Have I sold you yet? Cat. Maids. GOTY 2016.
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
Just a quick update, that you all should go Greenlight Hustle Cat, the magical cat dating simulator that is being released soon. Work in a cat cafe, date magical cats, be whatever gender you want - there is no downside! Also I'm alive, That's importa
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
What a damned good song. I'm very excited about Mick Gordon composing for DOOM =D
trippytip avatartrippytip
War not waifu lovers~ Must there only be one waifu? Why not have all the waifu? I enjoy my waifu like Lou Bega here.
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
So is the plural of waifu "waifus" or just "waifu"? I want to make sure I have it right when referring to my harem.
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
*Someday last week* Oh, so Toby Fox also made music for Homestuck. I guess I should read it *Today* Fuck it is 3:30 AM I have to wake up early tomorrow why I'm still reading this it is already chapter five someone help me please
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Holy shit, App Store. The copyright infringement is real. I didn't buy it, because I'm scared it'll make my iPhone explode and because the comments say the game's a generic zombie title with fake and misleading screenshots.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Pretty much in a nutshell
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -