Our demo’s barely 20 minutes long but it lays any early fears to rest: Origins feels like it belongs in the series.
It’s new features also impress. The Dark Knight system is a Batcomputer monitored combat training tool that rates and rewards in-game fighting while urging you to try more creative combos as you improve. In place of Riddler challenges, Most Wanted and Crime in Progress dangle side-story and quest carrots in front of you to coax you away from the eight DC assassins journey to Gotham to kill Batman story.
But if it’s excitement you want then it’s hard to look beyond the city itself not least because it’s doubled in size. Arkham City’s world is back in its entirety and in its pre-asylum guise it’s less run down and the docklands aren’t flooded.
It’s now joined by the island of New Gotham – a skyscraper filled commercial zone where vertical gameplay takes centre stage. From our initial play, it’s exactly the Gotham we heroes deserve to close the generation.
Official Xbox 360 Magazine
The game features multiple levels of villainy and while preventing street level crime is just for a bit of fun and experience points there are also villains who while not involved in Black Mask’s scheme have taken advantage of the chaos for their own ends.
One of these is Anarky who in the demo has set up a number of bombs around the city – one of which Batman stumbles upon purely by accident. Disarming it involves taking down a number of hired thugs but whether you go after the other bombs straight away and eventually apprehend Anarky is left entirely up to you. Which is an intriguing extra level of non-linearity.
Another priority for the game is to emphasis Batman’s role as the “world’s greatest detective.” This is illustrated in the demo by a long and complicated sequence where a police helicopter is shot down in front of you and you have to piece together what happened and who was involved.
Building on the rather simplistic detective sequences from Arkham City this involves finding all the fragments of the helicopter and having the Bat computer work out trajectories and 3D reconstructions it’s not really a puzzle in the traditional sense but it’s a good bit of scene setting and certainly helps to increase the feeling that you really are Batman.