With Gotham Knights releasing, now is a good time to go back and see where WB Games Montréal got their start in the superhero subgenre with Batman: Arkham Origins. This prequel entry of the Batman: Arkham franchise has seen a resurgence over the years and is often considered an underrated game.
Arkham Origins features a well-told grounded story, some of the best bosses of the Batman: Arkham games, and has quite a few memorable side quests for players to beat while roaming the winterly Gotham City. However, not all of them are great, with some coming off as glorified fetch quests, while the better ones practically steal the entire game.
While it was refreshing that Arkham Origins used a wide variety of villains such as Copperhead and Firefly, the inclusion of Bird was an odd choice. He's Bane's lieutenant who suddenly becomes his own standalone villain seemingly out of the blue even though he was only mentioned by Bane's men only once or twice.
The mission itself is nothing special either: Batman interrogates a criminal to get the location of Bird. The only thing that stands out is the club setting in which Batman fights Bird and his men. Even the name of the character is generic since there are already so many aviary-themed characters in the DC universe.
It's unfortunate that Black Mask was one of the most wasted characters of the Batman: Arkham games. In Arkham Origins, the Black Mask that Batman was chasing throughout was not even the true Black Mask. Meanwhile, the real Black Mask is reduced to a mission that is essentially a rehash of the Bane side-mission from Batman: Arkham City.
Batman just has to destroy drug stashes across the city with his explosive gel; been there, done that. However, the final encounter and fight with Black Mask is a nice way to end the mission since it allowed for more dialogue from the character.
In contrast to Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman and Jim Gordon's relationship in Arkham Origins has way more friction, with neither trusting each other at first, then becoming partners by the end. This is best shown in the post-story when Jim Gordon contacts Batman through Barbara's connection.
The mission itself is just okay, with Batman fighting groups of enemies across the city, saving escaped convicts from Blackgate Prison for last. However, the addition of showing the partnership between Batman and Gordon evolve is enough to make it worth it. As a bonus, there is a funny Easter Egg to find with one of the convicts.
The Penguin Arms Caches
This side mission is very similar to the Black Mask side mission; Batman goes across the city to take out thugs guarding a crate filled with weapons which Batman destroys with the disruptor. This one is much better due to having more action and interactions with Barbara Gordon.
The teenage Barbara is the one who gives the mission to Batman, and with each crate destroyed, she talks with Batman over his comlink. It's a nice way of showing how Batman became acquainted with Barbara and why she is one of the best side characters of the Arkham games.
The biggest problem with this mission is that it feels way too short, with Shiva becoming one of the most underused characters in the game. It has a great build-up starting with the fake crying baby which leads Batman to find and save Shiva's victims as well as fight ninja swarms. The entire mission sets up this grand encounter with Shiva that is going to test the player's skills.
Unfortunately, when the Shiva fight happens, it's a slightly taxing fight that ends far too quickly, and the story comes to an awkwardly abrupt conclusion. The way it ends makes it feel more akin to the halfway point of the side mission, but instead, that is the actual ending. It even teases that Shiva is actually working for Ra's Al Ghul, but nothing ever comes of it.
On the bright side, this proto-Riddler known as Enigma is not nearly as irritating to deal with as in Arkham Knight. The downside, however, is that there are no riddles at all; his mission in Arkham Origins is essentially a collect-athon with Batman having to find all of Enigma's datapacks containing extortion data.
This also forces Batman to destroy Enigma's transmitters and fight his data handlers. As a result, this version of the Riddler side quest is less demanding but a bit too easy at times. It's far from bad, but it is just decent in the end.
One of the best things to come out of Arkham Origins that make it so underrated is the focus on being the world's greatest detective. Throughout the game, there is a series of unsolved murders that pop up across Gotham City, and it's genuinely fun to uncover how the murders took place.
They always lead to an encounter with the murderer with unique dialogue. The best one is when Batman has to solve the murder of a couple that he knows as Bruce Wayne, leading to some great acting from Roger Craig Smith, who voices Batman.
Cyrus Pinkney Cold Case
This is a side mission that is a secret in Batman: Arkham Origins; hidden throughout the city are plaques dating back centuries, and these plaques hold hidden messages containing details of Gotham City's oldest cold case.
It leads to a story featuring ancestors of Gotham's founding families, from Solomon Wayne to Cyrus Pinkney to even the Arkham family. When completed, it leads to a surprising reveal that shows how many hard-to-find Easter Eggs there are in the Arkham games and how many of them are actually hidden in plain sight on the maps.
The use of Anarky is the best example of using an obscure villain well for a side mission. Anarky, an evil analog of V from V For Vendetta, has placed three bombs across Gotham City in a foolish attempt to kill the biggest sources of Gotham's corruption.
It all leads to a race against time with Anarky testing Batman to see what choice he makes. It all leads to Batman confronting Anarky in the Solomon Wayne Courthouse, resulting in Batman essentially learning that Anarky is what Bruce Wayne could have become if he let his anger and rage turn him to the dark side.
The Batman: Arkham games love to put the player through stealth-centric missions known as Predator Missions. Some of the hardest challenge maps in the Batman: Arkham games are Predator Missions, and Deadshot's side mission is essentially one of those but even harder.
Thanks to Deadshot's ricocheting ability with bullets, he is able to spot Batman from nearly anywhere and deal more damage than the goons can. So, this side mission requires the player to plot out their actions in the bank carefully. As a bonus, there is a nice detective element towards the beginning of the mission.
The Mad Hatter
There have been a lot of celebrity voices in the Arkham games, and one who steals the show in each game he appears in is Peter MacNicol as the Mad Hatter. Arkham Origins shows the first time that he met Batman by kidnapping a woman named Alice, and Hatter's hypnosis technology sends the Caped Crusader into Wonderland from Alice In Wonderland.
Taking a bit of inspiration from the Scarecrow encounters in Arkham Asylum, the Wonderland setting is depicted rather well, matching the whimsical yet nightmarish aesthetic that the story is known for. Hatter is talking to Batman the whole time and MacNicol nails the soft and creepy voice of the character.
NEXT: Every Confirmed Villain (So Far) In Gotham Knights, Ranked By StrengthSource:gamerant.com