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First Impressions: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

Posted by Ron DelVillano

Batmanvania

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate for the Nintendo 3DS is an interesting release for a number of reasons. First off, it’s the only game in a now four-year-old series to land on a handheld console. Second, the plot takes place sometime between the forthcoming Batman: Arkham Origins and series flagship Batman: Arkham Asylum. Third, in terms of gameplay, it’s a departure from the open-world structure of the aforementioned prequel and sequel. Blackgate focuses on the titular hero’s relationship with Catwoman and James Gordon; not much else is known about the plot at this time, but it’s sure to tie the series together and make loose ends meet.

While Blackgate does share a similar gameplay style with its console counterparts, in that it is an action adventure game that encourages environmental exploration, this game is in 2.5D, leading to more of a Metroidvania style of play. As you progress through the game you will unlock new items that allow you to travel further and investigate different parts of the map. Batman’s movements felt fluid when we played, with grapple sections clearly marked in a way similar to one-button quick time events; we were also clearly guided – most likely as this was the introduction to the game that we were playing through – but there was still a sense of grandeur in the environment, and we would have loved to explore more.

Though Batman’s movements when running from building to building were smooth, the combat that we experienced was a bit slow. Small hordes of thugs would run up to us, then we would consequentially beat them down with a series of attack and counter combos. It was reminiscent of combat found in the console titles, but the 2D perspective took away from the pacing as we could only attack one enemy on either side of us at any given time; rather than fighting baddies as a group, we were essentially stuck, surrounded on both sides and mashing our way out.

Just like previous games in the Arkham series, Blackgate has a dark pall hanging over it in both tone and aesthetic. The gloomy effect works surprisingly well on the 3DS, and the console’s ability to display images in 3D helps to enhance the environments. Much of the game may be in a 2D perspective, but at certain points – mostly when using Batman’s grapple gun – the view changes slightly to give a broader view, sometimes from over the Dark Knight’s shoulder. During these instances, the amount of detail put into the environments becomes apparent, bringing the rainy rooftops alive in the gloomy night.

When we were playing, we were also in a large room surrounded by hundreds of other gamers all playing on Nintendo consoles. Because of this, it was nearly impossible to hear anything coming from the 3DS XL at full volume. We could identify that the dialogue was voice acted, but it was difficult to hear any of Batman and Catwoman’s assuredly witty banter. While it’s very easy to blame this on the ambient noise of the room, it could also imply that the volume levels in the game are low, a common complaint among many 3DS gamers. To be fair though, we won’t be able to confirm any of this until we get the opportunity for a proper hands-on.

All in all, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is shaping up to be a solid, if not slightly watered-down, entry into the critically acclaimed Arkham series. Even if the final product doesn’t end up on par with its console counterparts, it’ll still be a side-scrolling Metroidvania game in which you get to play as Batman. Yes, please.

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User Comments (47)

thanos316

#1

thanos316 said:

if this game is great on the 3ds like how it is on other home consoles then i say bring it on. i haven't played this game before on home consoles so if it gets good reviews i will give it a try on my 3ds. the more the merrier. i just hope for a great game and not a watered down version

Will-75

#3

Will-75 said:

I will get this before I get the console game , I only hope that they add online multiplay that would be AWESOME !

DarkCoolEdge

#7

DarkCoolEdge said:

I'm really looking forward to this game. Kind of reminds me of Mirror of Fate and that is very good.

About the volume levels, I've never have a problem but obviously headphones make a big difference.

MrGawain

#8

MrGawain said:

It looks a bit like Batman movie game that came bundled with the Amiga. but more 'cell shaded-ey'.

Varia01

#9

Varia01 said:

Sounds like Metroid.... hmmm..... Maybe something to get interested in....

Shambo

#10

Shambo said:

This is bad news...

I may have to buy two new Batman games instead of one.

Especially when the version I would not have picked has a different story, revolving Catwoman, and "Metroidvania" gameplay...

Windy

#11

Windy said:

A Bit of a bummer going away from open world play. An open world type of game would really impress me for my 3ds. I guess the Denpamen 2 is as close to open world as we might see, Which isn't so bad :) I would love to see if they could do a Xenoblade Saga type of game on 3DS. As Far as Batman goes I will probably skip this as I already have to many games of this type that I haven't even beat yet.

ricklongo

#12

ricklongo said:

I'm really excited for this game. Open-world Arkham games sadly never did it for me, since I found them to be more cinematics than actual fun gameplay. Batman begins the games with way too many abilities, and as a result the first few hours feature way too much handholding to even play the games. They made me really miss 2D Batman games like The Adventures for Batman & Robin for the SNES, and hopefully this version will be more like that.

fluggy

#14

fluggy said:

Arkham City was incredible!!!! A 2.5d Super Metroid style Batman sounds great on paper. Hope it plays great as the potential is there!

DualWielding

#15

DualWielding said:

I thought this game was gonna suck, because lets be honest a handheld companion game to a triple A console release by a western developer sounds more like cash in than anything else, also the cell phone game they released as a companion title to Arkham City was panned eveerywhere (although I haven't played it myself).... but I'm glad it seems like this game has some actual effort put onto it, so it may end up being a worthy addition to the 3DS library

DualWielding

#16

DualWielding said:

I thought this game was gonna suck, because lets be honest a handheld companion game to a triple A console release by a western developer sounds more like cash in than anything else, also the cell phone game they released as a companion title to Arkham City was panned eveerywhere (although I haven't played it myself).... but I'm glad it seems like this game has some actual effort put onto it, so it may end up being a worthy addition to the 3DS library

DualWielding

#17

DualWielding said:

@Dambuster

You'll have to wait for the reviews, but even though the Vita is the most powerful console I think this game was probably developed by the 3DS which is the most popular of the two and then ported to the Vita, so the 3DS version may end up being superior... Kinda like how the 360 versions on many games turned better than PS3 ones despite PS3 being more powerful because 360 versions where original while PS3 were port..... If the game was developed for Vita then downported to 3DS then Vita version would be much superior, but that would be a stupid thing to do when the 3DS is so much more popular than the Vita

unrandomsam

#18

unrandomsam said:

Since Wii U will be released next year are you thinking of bringing Rodea there?

It’s finished as Wii title and as of now we have no plans to bring it to Wii U. Rodea was made specifically for the Wii so players could enjoy it by flicking the remote. If we tried to incorporate those controls into the large Wii U controller it wouldn’t be the same. I would really like for people to play and enjoy it on the Wii as I had originally intended.

Not often dev's have the same viewpoint as me.

Rafie

#19

Rafie said:

@ferthepoet OR WB wanted to utilize the hardware on the Vita instead of giving it an inferior graphical port that may turn out bad for the Vita. I certainly hope they didn't port a 3DS version to the Vita like they have other games. We all know the 3DS is more popular, but the Vita needs help. It's the most powerful handheld in history, yet it's severely lacking in the games department. Still, I'm getting the Vita version for the library and trophies. My honest opinion. I already have a great deal of games for my 3DS.

Oh and about the 360 versions of games. Developers claimed that the PS3 architecture was too difficult to develop for, so they went with the 360 and ported it to the PS3. That's why games tend to look and run better, not because it was "original". I'm glad this isn't the case for the next gen. The Wii U, PS4, and XBox One will have to be developed for their own respective platform. Although the PS4 and Xbox One is very similar in terms of specs with the Wii U being more complex, some devs came out and said they would develop the game close to or identical with one another.

Knuckles

#20

Knuckles said:

I know no one knows the answer, but does anyone think that previous DLC characters will show up again through DLC? Its before Batman met Dick Grayson Robin/Nightwing, Batgirl or Tim Drake Robin/Red Robin.

sinalefa

#21

sinalefa said:

Regarding volume levels for 3DS games, a solution I have found is using headphones. At half the volume with headphones I can hear better than without them at full power, no matter how quiet my gaming environment is.

I bought the Armored Edition a few days ago, so I will take my time to pick Origins up. This one looks like a different enough game to be worth a try sooner.

IAmNotWill

#22

IAmNotWill said:

Really considering picking this up, but there's already too many games to get this holiday season. :|

Spoony_Tech

#23

Spoony_Tech said:

@Windy SMT IV has open world play areas. Sure it doesn't start off that way but the game really opens up about 7-10 hours in where you can really explore!

Ron_DelVillanoAdmin

#24

Ron_DelVillano said:

@Knuckles I can't guarantee what it will be, but I was told that there will be DLC for this game. Forgot to mention that in the article. D'oh!

Ren

#25

Ren said:

I wouldn't blame the game for low audio, the 3DS in general has pretty bad peepers. My only complaint about it ever (oh and the low res cameras are annoying), otherwise best handheld ever by far.

Meaty-cheeky

#26

Meaty-cheeky said:

This is a shining example of how hand held games should be made. Portable version should have a slightly different story and gameplay from their bigger conosole counterparts.

I will be keeping my eyes on this one.

Tysamu

#28

Tysamu said:

Glad to see that they're putting considerable effort into making this. All they've to do is polish the combat it seems

KnightRider666

#30

KnightRider666 said:

I'm glad they went the Metroidvania route on this one. These games really fit portable gaming really well!

WhiteTrashGuy

#31

WhiteTrashGuy said:

This game is being developed by ex-Retro Studios artists and designers who worked on PRIME's 1,2, & 3. 'Nuff said.

Midnight3DS

#32

Midnight3DS said:

I was excited for this originally, then saw a half hour of gameplay, now not as much. Still nice to have a decent Batman on the go.

Tasuki

#33

Tasuki said:

I have been keeping an eye on this one since they first announced it. Hopefully this will be a day one purchase for me.

RawkHawk013

#34

RawkHawk013 said:

seems interesting will have to consider it, for louder volume, if you plug in head phones the sound is really high quality.

Austroid

#35

Austroid said:

Looks good! Hope to get it later on, I'm already pumped for Origins and pre-ordered it.

JaxonH

#39

JaxonH said:

@Dambuster I hate to say it, but this is one game that should definitely be played on the Vita. 3DS has it's strengths, but there are certain games in rare cases which really aren't done any justice on the hardware. Sonic Transformed is one such example. Loved the game on Wii U, so I bought 3DS version only to regret it. I then bought the Vita version and it was amazing- it felt like the Wii U version on the gamepad- ALMOST. This is another such game I believe. Now, if a person doesn't have a Vita, I'd still TOTALLY get it for 3DS. But given the choice- yeah, Vita all the way. I'll probably buy the 3DS version as well just for my collection and to support them for bringing it to the system.

JaxonH

#40

JaxonH said:

@ferthepoet Neither are a port of the other. I was reading about the game a month ago or so, and Armature Studios was actually asked that question, more or less. They said they are developing the two games in tandem. While this is good in as much as the Vita version won't be a direct 3DS port, it's also bad in as much as neither are being built ground up to utilize all the strengths of the games' respective hardware. Armature stated the only difference will be that Vita version has better graphics, and 3DS version has 3D. Both games run on the Bluepoint Engine, which was used for games such as PS All Stars Battle Royale.

Windy

#41

Windy said:

@OldMan-Tech I'm going to pick up SMT IV at some point. I really want that Xenoblade Saga feel on the 3DS. Who knows maybe the 3DS is just not capable of doing a game on the same scope as Xenoblade saga. Xenoblade is my favorite RPG of all time. Would be cool if they could take that engine and make new stories with it on 3ds. It might be my reason to pick up a Wii-U. Soul Hackers basically has open world play as well but they did a work around for that but really amazing for basically a sega saturn port

GloryQuestor

#42

GloryQuestor said:

Just as a sidenote, Blackgate isn't going to be the first in the Arkham series on a handheld or mobile device. Batman: Arkham City Lockdown on iOS has that distinction. For those who haven't checked it out, Lockdown's pretty cool in its own right — it's Infinity Blade meets Arkham City.

Even though there isn't any mention here, one of the things I hope we see in Blackgate is customizable armor or skin selections. It was one of the best ideas I liked about Lockdown, as you could dress up as '70s Batman, the Animated Series skin, or even the Batman Beyond (Bruce Wayne variant) costume. If not costumes, then at least alternate characters, like in City.

Rafie

#44

Rafie said:

@dumedum By that logic I could say the Wii U is inferior to the PS3 because the PS3 is 3D capable. See? Now while I was being combative (as I thought you were), I still know the 3DS is the more popular handheld, not inferior. Oh and I don't really think the Wii U is inferior at all. I was stating a point.

Gamer83

#45

Gamer83 said:

I'm actually looking more forward to this than I am Origins, which I believe will lack big time in comparison to Asylum and City. Not fond of the voice for Batman though. They should've stuck with Kevin Conroy, instead they have Chris Redfield in a bat suit now. This is going to bother me. I wish the guy would've at least tried to change his voice slightly. Even Nolan North mixes it up for some games.

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