Today Batman: Arkham Origins launches worldwide on the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. The review embargo for the game was finally lifted as well and the general response from critics is not so great.
Currently the game's Metacritic average is about 77. That's decent but it's certainly below par for the series. Predecessors Arkham Asylum and Arkham City had Metacritic averages of about 91 and 93, respectively. I'm not going to pretend like Metacritic is some scientific measurement but clearly critics liked this game a whole lot less than the previous Arkham chapters.
Arkham Origins is the first game in the series not developed by Rocksteady Studios. WB Games Montreal is heading up the project while Rocksteady works on their next-gen title. The first reviews seem to agree that WB Games Montreal did a serviceable job of replicating the blueprint passed down to them by the other studio. It doesn't sound like they managed to distinguish the game enough from its predecessors, though.
The big new addition for Origins is a multiplayer mode in which players take on the role of Batman, Robin, or the gang members they're hunting. Some reviews didn't even mention the multiplayer. Those that did, though, didn't seem to think it'll be a long-term diversion. Some stated that being an anonymous gang member rather than a hero is noticeably less fun due to poor aiming.
Here are a few choice excerpts from the first reviews. If you've been playing the game yourself, let us know what you think in the comments below.
Xbox360Achievements - "Like Asylum and City before it, Arkham Origins is about instilling fear in your enemies, although essentially the series' core gameplay mechanics remain untouched, with a few tweaked gadgets like the glue grenade, the odd new one like the concussion detonator, and a couple of fresh moves in Bats' repertoire. Though is has to be said, turning the tables on enemies with the shock gloves is an exceptionally empowering thrill."
Ausgamers - "There doesn’t seem to be as many sidequests or hidden objects in this game as there were in the last one, but by any reasonable measure Origins is still absolutely stuffed with side activities outside of the main mission. The Riddler, bless him, is as proactive as ever, packing every exterior and interior location with enough objects to keep completionists going for an absurdly long time. A city with some breath in its lungs would have been nice, but what we’ve ended up with isn’t without merit."
Polygon - "In 'Invisible Predator Online,' the only mode available at launch, two gangs of thugs face each other while simultaneously trying to avoid Batman and Robin. Since only two of the eight players in any match get to step into the shoes of the heroes, you'll spend most of your time online as a thug. That means using a gun in a game that clearly doesn't feel designed around gunplay. Aiming is spongey and slow, other players speed up or slow down at random intervals, and though the heroes have the advantage of stealth, they die too quickly to be effective."
GameTrailers - "Like Arkham City, Origins provides an open world with interiors that load separately, and there are plenty of side activities to investigate across the snowy skyline. The most enjoyable of these activities are the new Crime Scenes, which involve using detective mode to reassemble the events that lead to someone’s death. It’s like replaying an episode of CSI from any angle, and rewinding and fast-forwarding to find clues is consistently interesting and fun."
EGM - "The first huge disappointment comes in the form of the boss battles. The game’s already scraping the bottom of the barrel with its many C-list villains, but Warner Bros. Montreal does most of them no favors from escaping that label. For every great boss encounter, there’s a horrible, pointless one that makes you question the character’s presence in the game in the first place. And even though the game touts eight assassins, not all of them are actually woven into the story. Instead, they’re relegated to side-mission status—but some of these conflicts are actually better than the story-related ones. It makes you wonder why Warner Bros. Montreal didn’t just trim the number of assassins down in order to deliver the consistent quality of encounters that players expect."
Eurogamer - "In truth, though, what Batman: Arkham Origins really recaptures is the solid middle of an Arkham game - the combat, the traversal, the little stealth arenas, the open-world puzzles and side missions - without really offering any highs. There's no batcave-on-Arkham moment, no shark in the museum. Perhaps the developers were too focused on not breaking all those wonderful toys, or perhaps they were bound to a tight deadline, but the game feels slightly flat as a result."