Why There Are No Batman: Arkham Origins Reviews
Update: The game has launched so reviews are starting to trickle in now. Here's what the critics are saying.
Batman: Arkham Origins will launch worldwide on PC and consoles in two days. Right about now you're probably thinking, "Hey, I should check out a review of that." Don't bother looking, though, because there are no reviews out there.
As it turns out, the review embargo for Arkham Origins won't be up until Friday. What this means is that members of the press aren't permitted to actually share their thoughts on the game until it actually hit stores.
Why do companies enforce a launch day embargo? Sometimes, it's because they know their product isn't very good. The public relations team behind Saw 13: Guess Which Body Cavity He Hid The Key In This Time! or Aliens: Colonial Marines expects bad reviews and knows that these reviews could dissuade paying customers. In order to minimize the pain that these reviews cause, they make sure that they arrive as late as possible. Thousands of people fork over their money before there's a single review to warn them.
I'm skeptical that this scenario describes Batman: Arkham Origins. Granted, the game was developed by WB Games Montreal instead of usual Arkham studio Rocksteady but...how much can they fuck it up, really? They've got the engine, the gameplay formula and maybe the most popular comic book character of all time. At worst, the reviews are going to be of the "it feels like an expansion pack rather than a sequel" variety. Why hide the game?
A late embargo isn't always an act of deception. In some cases, the publisher wants the press to experience the game after its official launch. Blizzard's rationale for not allowing early reviews of StarCraft 2 was that they wanted the press to try out all of Battle.net 2.0's multiplayer features. Oh yeah, and they wanted to release a launch day patch.
Batman: Arkham Origins's multiplayer could be to blame for the late reviews. These 2v3v3 matches are a first for the series and arguably the biggest new feature in Origins. It's plausible that WB just wants reviewers to play matches with a full complement of players before they render their judgment on the game. Or maybe they've got a day one patch of their own in the works and they don't want critics playing a broken game.
The reasons for the launch day embargo don't really matter in the end, though. What matters is what this all means for you, the gamer thinking of buying Arkham Origins. My advice is to wait. Instead of buying it on Friday morning, wait until a YouTuber, a friend, or someone else you trust picks the game up and gives it a thumbs-up. There's all sorts of pressure on gamers to make launch day purchases, from pre-order DLC to shiny collector's editions. If you're able to ignore these lures and exercise a little bit of patience, though, you'll save yourself from potentially wasting $60 on a sub-par game.
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