When the original Batman: Arkham Asylum came out several years ago, it brought the Dark Knight back into the gaming spotlight in a tremendously good way. Things got even better with 2011's Batman: Arkham City, expanding the territory he could swoop through and throwing in a whopper of a story that both comic book fans and regular players could thoroughly enjoy.
For the next game, WB Games has decided to go back to the beginning with Batman: Arkham Origins will take players back to the younger days of the Caped Crusader as he battles a gaggle of assassins on Christmas Eve while trying to keep Gotham City safe. The Arkham series is also coming to portable game systems, as Arkham Origins Blackgate will release around the same time. The game takes a play style that's quite similar to the Metroid games of old, as well as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Arkham Origins Blackgate has Batman paying a visit to Gotham's prison Blackgate Penitentiary, where things have run amuck and inmates are running loose. The story behind Blackgate hasn't been fully revealed yet, but you can bet that a number of familiar villains from the Batman universe are likely to pop in, such as Two-Face, the Penguin, and maybe even the Joker. There's no limitations to the evil that lurks in these jail cells, but rest assured that Batman is sure to stomp it flat.
The game isn't your traditional 3D affair like Asylum and City. Arkham Origins Blackgate is instead a 2.5-D game, where the terrain is in full 3D, but the levels are set up in traditional 2D exploration fashion. You'll work your way through puzzle rooms and navigate up and down ledges to reach new areas in order to find items that will help you get ahead or locate secret goodies that you can use throughout the game. Armature Studio (veterans of Metroid Prime games and the PS Vita Metal Gear Solid HD Collection) are working on the game instead of Rocksteady Games, who worked on the previous two Arkham games.
Armature knows it's stuff judging by what we've seen thus far. Even though you don't have the freedom of 3D movement, Batman remains quite stylish and effective in Blackgate. You've still got access to Detective Mode, which allows you to flick on a visor within your hood that lets you seek out clues and display the visual range in which enemies can see you. Batman's spooky, fearful aura is here in spades, and it's remarkable from what we've seen in preview footage.
Batman retains the same great fighting style that we've come to expect from prior Arkham games. He can't fight in all directions this time, but he can still evade incoming attacks from enemies and bring them down with a counter that leaves them flat on the ground.
Batman also brings other tools to Blackgate, such as the ability to grapple to ledges that are outside of his reach and using a glide to get from platform to platform. The exploding gel also makes a return, which he can use to bust through vulnerable walls to access new areas or catch an enemy off-guard and jump them. Batarangs are also used sparingly in the game to hit switches blocked by an obstacle. More gadgets will be revealed in the future as well.
While some familiar items will be returning in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, certain other elements will be present as well. Sometimes you'll need to be sneaky to avoid detection by armed prisoners. The darkness is your ally in these situations as is making your enemies afraid of you. We can't get enough of that, although pounding someone into crud isn't bad either.
Even though Arkham Origins is likely to get more attention, Blackgate should serve as a quality supplementary adventure for those of you who can't get enough of the Bat. Be sure to to be on the lookout for when it hits stores for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita on October 25th.