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E3 2013: BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS recap by David Nieves.

Batman is Back For the First Time… Sort of
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This Fall, a new studio will try to fill the big bat boots left by original Arkham franchise creators Rocksteady Games. WB Montreal is taking over the reigns and showed everyone at E3 they are more than up to the challenge. After looking at some of the gameplay of the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins, it’s safe to say this three year old studio is putting the caped crusader in one hell of a ride.

Fans will recognize the same open world game play that made the first two Batman games famous. However, WB Montreal has taken what Rocksteady built and opened it up even more. The gorgeous and gritty Art Deco style Gotham is twice the size of Arkham City. This version of the iconic city will see two major islands; a north and a south, connected by a bridge batman will use to travel between them. Some elements of these parts of Gotham will seem both familiar and new to fans of the previous games, after all we are looking at a part of the city that will eventually be the prison camp known as Arkham City. Parts of the Arkham Universe we’ve seen to be blocked, destroyed, or flooded in previous games are reengineered in order to achieve the scale of the more immersive Gotham.

One of the biggest changes in the game is its focus on more upfront character upgrades. No longer will players be surprised by a random message telling you to select upgrades. The XP system is more at the forefront of the game and it does indeed grade and reward your performances both in combat and stealth. Gadgets will have their own experience trees and alter the players experience in both in combat. These upgrades to the game are what WB Montreal see as areas for improvement from both Arkham titles. It’s important to the developer that these things don’t just feel like a gimmick; they have to lend to the notion that the player building a better Batman as the story progresses.
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Perhaps the staple that will define the Montreal Arkham experience is the new more interactive detective mode. This time around players aren’t handed back direct answers from their bat computers. Batman will have to gather intel from crime scenes he analyzes, feed the data to the bat cave, and computer will send an augmented reality playback of it. He then watches that playback for the how, what, when, that leads him to finding the guilty party. Watching batman do this on screen was just as engaging as watching your favorite investigative crime drama on television. By doing this, WB Montreal looks to put you in the shoes of not just the Batman but the world’s greatest detective aspect of the character as well.

The story in Arkham Origins isn’t a Batman origin story; it’s the story of how Batman really steps out on to the DC Universe stage. This story takes place years before the Joker’s rampage through Arkham and Strange’s prison city. Batman has only been a vigilante for about two or three years and all the while seemingly dealing with dime store hoods, which has given him somewhat of an over inflated ego about crime fighting. On this Christmas night in Gotham, the most notorious crime boss in the city, Black Mask, is out to change that by hiring eight of the deadliest assassins in the DC Universe to kill the bat. Arkham Origins becomes the story of the first meetings between Batman and his rogues’ gallery in this universe. The game will see such popular characters as Deathstroke, Penguin, Anarky, Bane, and the Joker. With the amazing Geoff Johns consulting on story, fans can expect a tale true to the essence of Batman with a twist on the mythology we’ve never seen before.

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The one thing WB Montreal would not comment on is if the game would interact in anyway with Batman: Blackgate Origins, the handheld game set to release at the same time as Arkham Origins.

Fans worries can easily be put to rest. WB Montreal not only continue the beloved work of the first two Arkham games by Rocksteady, they build upon it in ways that make sense both in story and in terms of putting their own stamp on the franchise. Of course we’ll do a full review of the game as we get closer to its release. Batman: Arkham Origins is set to release on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 worldwide on October 25th 2013.