I was pretty disappointed with Arkham Origins. Maybe not as crushingly disappointed as Jim was, but I still felt like it was the weakest entry in the Arkham saga so far, and Warner Bros. Montreal didn't really do anything to make me confident in the future of the series.
Sadly, the newest DLC doesn't do them any favors either.
Batman: Arkham Origins: Initiation (PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [tested])
Developer: Warner Bros. Games Montréal / Splash Damage
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Released: December 15, 2013
MSRP: $6.99 (part of the Season Pass)
Right off the bat, Initiation is pretty messy, even in terms of how you access the DLC. After a decent amount of searching, I ended up finding it under story > challenge mode > campaign > second page > Rite of Passage. In total, the DLC includes two skins, five story maps, and two extra challenge maps that are unlocked if you beat Rite of Passage with Bruce. The skins are Initiation Bruce Wayne (basically Bruce in Monk garb) and Vigilante Bruce Wayne (an urban ninja skin), which you can use in this add-on or elsewhere in Challenge Mode.
Initiation is basically a loose collection of challenge maps, with a light amount of cutscenes sprinkled throughout. I'd really hesitate to call the DLC a "story," as the narrative is pitiful. The framing device is basically the same origin tale you've read or watched a million times -- Bruce wants to learn how to fight crime pre-Batman, so he goes to some monastery/training grounds to prove his stuff. This time, it's North Korea, under the tutelage of Master Kirigi, and he starts off as a servant. I was actually kind of excited to possibly see something different here, but it was a complete letdown -- mostly because Bruce doesn't utter one word the entire DLC.
Yep, that's right -- the main character doesn't even speak, and before each map, you'll basically get 15 seconds of Master Kirigi talking at you, usually insulting Bruce ("out of pity we let our servant train with us") or explaining the point of the map ("knock out or kill these enemies to proceed"). You do that five times, get a terrible ending, and that's basically it. Lady Shiva returns for a fight which is kind of cool, but it's ultimately as unceremonious as the rest of the DLC.
Maps range from your typical arena-based brawl fests to simplistic stealth playgrounds, and outside of the ninja-skinned enemies, are practically indistinguishable from the core game. Enemies are in fact mostly skinned, as their moves simply replicate other foes from the main story (knife types, big ones that need to be stunned, and so on). Specifically, there are three combat-centric maps and two stealth missions, and I really could have gone for more Predator-based levels given the potential for clever designs in the monastery setting.
Should you choose to use Bruce for these maps, you'll be able to utilize caltrops, shurikens, kujiki bombs, and your grappling hook basically in the same manner as Batman proper. Kujiki bombs are somewhat cool in that they offer a slightly enhanced effect similar to a ground takedown during fights (and allow you to throw a flurry of shurikens), but most players aren't even going to notice it. The only other difference is that Bruce has a few new animations and instead of using his cape to stun, he'll use a smoke attack. That's...basically it. You'll also have access to Detective Vision during the stealth parts (this makes absolutely no sense), so all in all, it's roughly the same thing as the campaign character.
What Initiation should have been is a miniature legit campaign with Challenge Maps as a bonus. With a more unique set of moves for Bruce, and an actual meaningful storyline, it could have been a cool diversion. In it's current state however, it's a pretty poor piece of DLC no matter how you slice it. If you absolutely love challenge maps, it would be a good idea to pick up the Season Pass at a discount, and get Initiation as a cherry on top of the other upcoming story DLC. Otherwise, you're better off ignoring it at full price.
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