One of the biggest titles I wanted to get my hands on at the Eurogamer Expo was the third title in the Arkham series, Batman Arkham Origins. However the queue was rather long, so as I waited for the second day to try it out, I thought I’d give it’s handheld compadre on the PS Vita a try. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is, despite sharing almost the same name as it’s console counterpart, a sequel of sorts to it’s upcoming console counterpart with the story taking place some three months after whatever ends up happening in Arkham Origins. Confused?
Developed by Armature Studio – formed by former Retro Studios staff (Metroid Prime trilogy) – Blackgate is a side scrolling adventure game. After playing and loving the last two Batman console release titles, I was eager to get my hands on this one and see if it would be a worthwhile companion to it’s big brother. Of course, it’s unfair to an extent to compare the two. This is a handheld game, and it does not have the same developer behind it. Still, it’s Batman, it’s part of the Arkham series, and I could not wait.
However straight away I realised the hand-to-hand combat heavily praised on the console version is pretty much non-existent here. Essentially, your battles in Blackgate are resorted to mashing the keypad. Something else I soon realised playing this demo is that very rarely does whatever enemy you are encountering actually beat you to the punch. Defence is something you don’t do too much of here, just keep mashing that attack button.
First impression; Holy Disappointing, Batman.
Another issue I – and other keen players I spoke to – was the difficulty experienced when it comes to the general controls. Aside from the aforementioned ‘button mashing’ strategy, grappling is something that seems to be a lot tougher than it should be. What should be carried out without a thought actually becomes a mini-game of itself. And I’m pretty sure that’s not meant to be that way. More than once I found myself having to stop completely and essentially wiggle the controls until the grapple icon appeared.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, for there were some bright points that I found with Blackgate. The visuals are stunning, with the drawn, comic book-style cutscenes really adding a nice touch. If you put aside the grapple issues, the levels themselves are well-designed and fully look the part. Blackgate will also be making it’s way to the 3DS, and I imagine that will look pretty spectacular.
At the end of the day, this is a Batman title. It delivers what you have come to expect from a Batman title. It has the gadgets, the action and the look. There is no doubt that the lack of Rocksteady involvement (damn you, console gamers) hurts the overall prodcut, but all in all from what I saw today Armature have done okay.
Overall impression; Holy This Could be Alright, Batman.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate will be available on PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS. The Vita version will be released worldwide on October 25, with the 3DS version coming on November 8.