Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile
Review By Seth Robison
Rama Rating 6 out of 10
NetherRealm Studios’ Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile, out now for iOS and for Android powered systems later this year lets you take the young Dark Knight’s Christmas Night ordeal on the road for the low cost of free. Like NetherRealm’s previous superheroic mobile efforts; Batman: Arkham City Lockdown and Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile, Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile the game’s action has you trading blows with a flurry of taps, swipes and presses upon touch sensitive screens from a three-quarters perspective.
Unlike the prequel tale that was Batman: Arkham City Lockdown for Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile tells a loose parallel/substitute story of Batman refusing to take Black Mask’s challenge laying down and instead heading out into the night to face waves and waves of goons and at least six of the assassins hired to kill him: Bane, the re-imagined female Copperhead, Deadshot, the Electrocutioner, Deathstroke and Firefly.
Gamers familiar with how 2D fighting games have been operating on smartphones/tablets since Infinity Blade will pick up on the action here very quickly: tapping/swiping to attack and holding to block works well enough but the fighting, especially against the hordes ‘goon’ level foes is as a more egregious example of “taking turns to block/attack” than has yet to been seen in the genre. Switching up the gameplay a little is the option to toggle between an aggressive or defense stance that changes the way Batman fights and how effective his attacks/blocks are. The fights against the assassins however are an even more welcome change of pace as each fights in a distinctive style and features unique QTE-style counters to their special attacks that are immensely satisfying to pull off successfully. The game also features seemingly random spawning timed special events that offer bonus rewards but implement special battle conditions.
The game’s difficulty ramps up quickly so smart gamers will take advantage of the title’s RPG elements to maximize their survivability. Purely leveling up will increase Batman’s stats, but the free part of a two-tiered currency system will let you purchase and subsequently upgrade damaging special attacks that do double duty as buffs/debuffs, heal or bestow a damage-over-time effect. The Bruce Waynes and/or impatient among us can disregard slowing accumulating this battle-won silver currency and exchange real money for gold coins that can quickly let them blaze though the skill-leveling process. This process also allows for quick recharging of Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile’s ‘stamina’ system, its implementation of the mechanic to limit the gamers not willing to pay for gold coins.
While this system is naturally a logical and reasonable move for any developer looking to recoup costs and turn a profit on their work, Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile’s system as it currently stands is one of the more strict versions ever implemented. Though you are issued ten gold coins right away and some are available through free gameplay, your stamina gauge allows for at most five fights before at least twenty minutes have passed before you can play one more time again. A pretty steep comedown from the system in Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile where you could at least swap ‘tired’ characters out for fresh ones.
Putting that aside, there is a lot here for Bat-Fans to enjoy including a pile of costumes to earn including the Batman Beyond Bat-Suit, Black Lantern Batman and Injustice: Gods Among Us Batman, each with their own set of statistical boosts. The WBID gaming network also allows players to connect their mobile game to the console version of Batman: Arkham Origins and visa-versa to earn unlocks for one when they play the other.
On the highest tier of iOS platform Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile is awash with visual detail to the point of distraction. While Batman and his foes (especially Copperhead) are rife with articulation, the backgrounds are gorgeous to the point of distraction and chock full of in-universe references. For instance you will definitely lose one battle trying to see if a tiny piece graphical flair in the background hints at the in-universe existence of either a certain blond aviatrix or Bird of Prey. Vocally, it seems that most of the console voice cast is along for the ride, even though it’s for little more than grunts and the franchise’s signature game over cinemas.
Batman: Arkham Origins Mobile is at best a great companion piece to the console version but after the universe expanding hit that was Injustice: Gods Among Us Mobile it’s a bit of a letdown.