The more recent Batman games have done quite well for WB Games. Batman: Arkham Asylum was a big hit in 2009, establishing developer Rocksteady Games as a powerhouse game maker while also bringing the Dark Knight back to gaming prominence. Batman: Arkham City was released in 2011, expanding on the theme of the original with a bigger city to explore, a fantastic story, and even more Bat-ty fun to be had. It sold quite well to boot, prompting WB Games to continue the franchise.
This October, we'll be seeing that continuation with Batman: Arkham Origins. This isn't quite a sequel to City - it's a prequel that follows Bruce Wayne in his earlier days as Batman. Back then he was younger, faster and stronger, but also a little more cautious as he's getting the hang of things. It also marks the first Batman game in this current generation that isn't being developed by Rocksteady. Instead, WB Games Montreal is at the helm.
The story takes place on Christmas Eve, where Batman is on his usual patrol, watching over the city and battling criminals. This is shattered when criminal mastermind Black Mask puts a huge reward on Batman's head. This brings eight super-powered villains to town, including the assassin Deathstroke, who will do whatever it takes to finish the Caped Crusader and hand the gangster his bloody cowl. The Dark Knight will need to contend not only with these assassins, but Black Mask's other thugs and crooked cops who will mercilessly hunt you.
A couple of the familiar elements that made the first two Batman games so successful are gone, including story writer Paul Dini and voice actor Kevin Conroy, who also filled his role as Batman in the recently released Injustice: Gods Among Us. Bat fans shouldn't fret, as WB Games Montreal is still treating the license with a great deal of care.
Everything else should still remain in place. The design is likely to have a similar structure to the one featured in previous games, allowing Batman to grapple onto buildings, seek out criminals and even swoop across the skies using his cape. However, WB Games Montreal is promising an even bigger area to play around with, which includes more thugs and hidden goodies (like the possible return of the Riddler Trophies) to track down. In addition, some areas from the comic series, like the Amusement Mile, Old Gotham and the docks, will make their debut. While you're down on the docks, watch out for Penguin's ship: The Final Offer!
Batman will also have a mixture of old and new tools alike with his utility belt. You should still be able to fling Batarangs like a pro, utilize an electrical gun to move objects and temporarily immobilize enemies, and so on.
Some of the new gadgets are looking cool as well, such as the Remote Claw which enables you to grab objects and enemies at a faster speed than ever before. Nailing a bad guy before he gets a chance to shoot at you could make all the difference when you're trying to save your precious health bar. You'll also get to use the Batwing in some situations, mainly for fast travel between city areas.
Combat should have the same free-flowing structure as the original game, allowing you to put together punches and kicks effortlessly no matter who you might be facing in a brawl. You can also continue to counter incoming attacks, stylishly brushing them off and preparing for the next move. Origins will keep you on your toes with the introduction of a few new enemies, ones who won't take so easily to you swinging fists at their faces.
Along with main story missions, Origins will also include Most Wanted quests where you can earn additional experience points and the chance to upgrade equipment. Though the villains haven't yet been revealed, we expect some folks from the Rogue Gallery to appear, including Killer Croc, Two-Face, and perhaps even the Joker – though he won't be voiced by Mark Hamill this time around.
Finally, the game will introduce an all-new Batcave where Batman can utilize his detective skills to great effect, investigating clues and even recreating crime scenes so he can get a closer analysis of what's happening. All that's missing now is the Batmobile…
Though some of you may be nervous by the fact Rocksteady isn't developing this particular Batman game, Origins could provide a fresh new take on the series – and that may be a good thing this time around. We'll find out how it fares when it ships on October 25th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U.