The storyline isn't anything impeccable, and in-fact, it feels a little bit like I have seen this all before. I think you can most certainly tell that the idea of this entire game was meant as an added bonus and not as something meant to shine by itself.
The setting is three months after Arkham Origins, where a mysterious explosion at Blackgate Prison allows for a lot of baddies to escape. This leaves for Batman to try and save the day before meeting Catwoman for the first time. She eventually takes on the role equivalent that Oracle had in some of the earlier games. If we take a look at everything, I can tell you that the atmosphere itself isn't anything that will catch anyone's eyes. The graphics have been polished with their release on the home consoles, and while they technically look fine and like what we should expect, they don't have much inspiration in them. They look grimy and dark like earlier titles, but the sparse environment doesn't work as well this time around and lacks some of the same creativity and originality. The scenery is quick to become repetitive.
I think what is interesting about this title is the game-play itself though, and it alone is at least enough to make me recommend trying to find a copy. I was on the fence about the whole 2.5D business, and while I know a lot of things likely went into the decision, I couldn't buy into the idea that they would be able to do anything much with it all. Like I said, I was expecting a classic side-scrolling beat 'em up. Instead though, and much to my surprise, they actually do capture a lot of the same game-play as what we've come to expect. The fighting mechanics turned out very nice for what they are, and while the side-scrolling does tamper with how fluent the controls are, the fact that they are able to capture the feeling so precisely is almost astounding. I can say for certain that I was shocked at how much they were able to do with it. I was most certainly impressed.
In-fact, some of the larger criticisms that I have with the whole business is about how much they attempted to replicate from Origins. The fighting mechanics were nice, of course, but they were also a certain back-step from what we had seen from the home-consoles. That isn't a big deal, and for what it's worth, they are still a lot of fun that capture the essence of fighting as the Caped Crusader. I am happy that if they wanted to match anything, the fighting mechanics were what they chose. Unfortunately though, it feels as if they were trying too hard to have some sort-of novelty about having the functions of other Arkham's on there, and because it's a step-down, it comes off as simply a novelty and not something that adds to the actual experience. For example, I found for the stealth missions to come off as a little forced. They couldn't do too much with the 2.5D graphics, and so I really wish that they wouldn't have even bothered. I appreciate them for trying to maintain one of the driving elements for the series, but I feel like they could have and should have kept it simple. During the stealth missions, I force my character to be stealthy even though I am completely aware that I can take the characters out one by one in an instant. At least on most occasions, I can tell you that there was a boss-battle with the Penguin that is the exception to this fact.
There's just something about using all of these gadgets that just comes off as forced. I almost wish that instead of trying to replicate the feelings of the other titles, they merely tried to make a fun companion-piece with the same fighting mechanics. I will say that it's well-done. I think the novelty feels forced, but not as forced as it could have been. The cases you have to solve are an example of the game feeling at its most forced. The clues don't really piece together as anything really coherent. They're just scattered around throughout the area, and it doesn't feel like anything except at least a little desperate. Another thing that irked me is that certain breakables or weak walls can only be targeted once they have been scanned. Not only that, but when you're in Detective Mode, you can't see the breakable walls unless you scan over it, making certain parts a bitch to find.
The boss battles are fine. A lot of them are repetitive, but they're all mostly fine. Penguin's is my favorite, and is actually enjoyable in-general with a unique and imaginative way of facing against the character. I would say that it's simple, but I liked it. The last boss battle was the hardest for me. I found it lacked responsiveness when I trying to perform the countering, but other-wise, I didn't have much issue with anything else.
The voice-acting is done well, something that has always been appreciated from the Batman game series. I also like that the Batman suits are collectibles that can be found during game-play. I have never been a fan of paying for them as downloadable content, or having to jump through hoops to retrieve them. If only because after I unlock them, my interest has just about faded for the game, and I don't feel like playing with the new costume.
The biggest mistake about the whole experience though is the extensive amount of backtracking you are expected to do and the navigation you have to work with. I spent around eight hours playing, and I have to say that at least three or four hours of it was spent navigating around areas that I had already once tread. There's a spot where you have to rescue some hostages, and what they do is they scatter them in random parts of the prison. This takes forever, and is just so demoralizing. I actually wanted for the game to end at this point. It doesn't help that navigating is a lot more difficult in this than the others. Some areas are darker or more difficult to find, and so I might spend hours trying to find some area. The shift perspectives and the unhelpful map all contribute in making the navigation the most frustrating and difficult aspect about it.
I suppose all of this came off as a little more negative than I intended, but I'll try to be less harsh with the finale. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate's controls and fighting mechanics are almost enough to make it worth the price by itself. The boss-battles, graphics, and story don't venture into high-territory, but work enough for everything that the title is meant to be. Unfortunately, there is a big repertoire of nuisances that contribute into making it feel a lot worse than it should have been.
Thanks for reading...