For those who don’t know, this year 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of our beloved Caped Crusader. We here at NoypiGeeks are jumping in the bandwagon by featuring one of the better Batman-related games out there: Batman: Arkham Origins for mobile! Developed by NetherRealms for WB Games (owner of DC Comics and related subsidiaries), the game is based on the console game Batman: Arkham Origins.
While not as solid as the “proper” Arkham games developed by Rocksteady (Arkham Asylum, Arkham City – if you haven’t played these games yet, you owe it to yourselft to play them), it can stand up to its own right. And, as opposed to the aforementioned Rocksteady games, Arkham Origins is given a plethora of support from WB, chief among them a companion mobile game.Technically, this game isn’t really new. It’s been out for quite a while in iOS, and same is true for Android, albeit most other countries not named USA couldn’t download it. However, last week, it’s finally set out into the open. Already a fan of NetherRealm’s Injustice: Gods Among Us game, coupled with my being a Batman fanatic, trying this game out is a no-brainer. While I can definitely say that this isn’t among the best Batman games (nor being among the best Android games), I still found it a very fun and addictive game in its own right.
NetherRealms are renowned for creating mobile games whose graphics approach god-like status, and you’ll get the same here in spades! The graphics is console-quality-good. As a Batman figure collector, It’s such a treat for me to see the different looks of Batman rendered in 3D.
Audio is great as well. I was impressed by the quality of the voice-overs, with Batman’s voice sounding like the legendary Kevin Conroy’s (he didn’t voice Batman in the console game as well), so kudos to Roger Craig Smith for a job well done. The voice of Alfred (Martin Jarvis) is noteworthy as well. Based on the credits, though, other high profile voice actors are involved, like Kelly Hu and Tara Strong and it shows in the voice acting. The sound effects and music aren’t too shabby either.
Of course, none of those would matter if it has shitty gameplay, and thankfully such isn’t the case. Unlike the console game, the mobile version is more akin to a touched-based fighting game. If you’ve played their other high-profile game Injustice: Gods Among Us, they you’re in extremely familiar territory. If not, then think of it as Blood and Glory, only with the goddamn Batman! It’s set like a fighting game, so you take on enemies one by one (although you have multiple enemies mostly in each mission).
Controls are as simple as it gets. Tapping or swiping anywhere on the screen lets out an attack. Three taps or swipes generate a combo, wherein you’re given a chance to extend it up to three more strikes by following the necessary swiping instructions that will be displayed. Aside from these basic attacks, Batman also has up to eight Special attacks (four for each of the two stances). These specials have cool down periods though and they refill over time (the length depends on the special and its level). Blocking is as easy as holding onto two points anywhere on the screen or simply holding on the shield icon at the bottom left corner of the screen. Additionally, whenever you fight any of the assassins, you get some quick time events that, when done correctly, can cancel out the attack causing you only minimal damage or none at all.
There’s a thinly-veiled storyline that loosely follows the storyline in the console. Black Mask puts a bounty on Batman’s head (who is just two years old in crime fighting) and eight accomplished assassins heed the call: the physically compelling Bane (pre-venom, it seems), expert marksman Deadshot, veteran mercenary Deathstroke, poisonous contortionist Copperhead, the pyromaniac Firefly, the highly charged Electrocutioner, deformed criminal Killer Croc, and master martial artist Shiva. Batman will have defeat them all, or confront Black Mask dead on to end the bounty.
Unfortunately, of the eight, only four are present in the mobile game (Bane, Deadshot, Deathstroke, and Copperhead). Aside from them, you also have to contend with a myriad of Black Mask’s goons. In a fighting game setting, this means that each scenario/mission is like playing a quasi survival mode by going through a finite number of minions, with some missions ending with a showdown with one or more of the assassins.
Along the way, you gain EXP points to level up Batman (up to Lv 30 max for the moment) as well as two types of currencies (upgrade points and WayneTech points), both of which you can use to purchase the different costumes (each Batsuit has its own properties/perks, so they aren’t just skins) and/or upgrade Batman’s skills and stats. Each mission also gives you a chance to collect Batsuit parts which you can use to upgrade the Batsuits.
The game uses the freemium model, so expect to encounter in-app purchases, in this case, you can pay real money in exchange for upgrade or WayneTech points. Fortunately, you really don’t need to spend any money as all items are obtainable via constant playing. However, it’s a drag to save up for some Batsuits that require WayneTech points exclusively for purchase. Fortunately, there are a lot of other Batsuits to choose from. As with other freemium-modeled games, you’ll also have to contend with “stamina points” which, while it replenishes over time (5 minutes for each stamina point), would be nuisance when you’re so much into the game. You’re given ten stamina points, with each mission requiring two (for Tier 1 and Tier 2 missions) or three (for Tier 3 and Tier 4 missions), so your play time gets limited.
Not everything is peaches and cream, though. Such graphical and audio excellence requires a lot of resources, and you’ll get hit in your battery life. On the go, that means you’ll need an external power supply handy if you want to play this game for any length of time. Otherwise, you’ll realize that it sucks battery more than a famished Dracula will suck blood. Also, on some occasions, it lags for a moment, which may throw off your game at ill-opportune times.
It’s also hefty at 1.6GB, so make sure you have enough. But my biggest beef is the game’s apparent lack of replay value. I breezed through this game for three days tops (and I intentionally prolonged it, I could have finished it in two days), meaning that if not for the stamina points limitation, you’ll get to finish this in a day. After that, there’s not much incentive for you to go on playing it. Sure, you can try to collect the Batsuits, but once you’ve acquired any of the Tier 4 suits, there’s no reason for you to don the lower tiered ones. However, it is fun while it lasted, so there’re no regrets downloading it, and as a free game, there’s really not much excuse to not at least try it out (unless your phone/tablet’s specs are below its requirements). However, the game does become more worthwhile if you also own a copy of the console version. Tied to your WBID, you can unlock some goodies for the console and vice versa. That would give you more incentive to keep on playing, although I have to admit that once you’ve finished all the missions the first time, the game gets pretty old fast.
For a similar game with much more replay value, I’d highly recommend Injustice. It offers so much more. But for the Batman lovers out there, this game’s worth a shot. [Download: iOS]