Batman Arkham Origins

Although I don’t hate prequels anymore the way I used to, I’m still convinced that they are too often a worse choice. Origins too, illustrates (a little bit) why. Knowing beforehand that Batman would have more/better equipment in the prequel than in his chronologically later adventures, can be accepted, but… it’s just not exactly raising the mood for me either.
However, there are bigger “problems” with the game world than these details: Asylum took place in this closed off institution on an island and City was a huge prison too, an entire, former district of Gotham, which is, during the events of the game, separated from it. So it made perfect sense, that there’d almost exclusively be only inmates in the buildings and on the streets. Origins, on the other hand, is located in normal Gotham. So why are there only criminals/hostiles on the streets and NO normal people? They try to explain this a little bit at some point, by mentioning something about a curfew, but it still comes across as a weak excuse.
The mediocrity (again, for a game in the Arkham series!) continues from here. Like Saints Row IV, Origins reuses the map of City and “only” has it textured differently (“merely” an area to the south is truly new). While the previous games fully embraced their comic origins (yay…) – something I liked, this installment seems to try to go a more realistic route. The riddler doesn’t hide his usual, goofy question marks anymore, he has hidden data packages instead (although the final room reveals he is already preparing the known question marks for Asylum). Many other elements are as far out as they used to be, so I perceived it as quite the contrast.
What’s also new, is quite a remarkable amount of bugs (yes, in comparison to the other games), at least when considering how much was just reused. My first thought would be, that this should lower the chance of problems, building upon code that has been in use for years now. This latest Arkham title however, feels overall like it’s in a worse shape than its predecessors. At least it can be said that the worst problems are fixed now, even if the news might not make it sound like that.
Another reason, Origins has a hard time to appear as if it’s a superior successor to City, is that a stunt like adding a character of the caliber of Catwoman is missing entirely. I really thought it was almost perfectly done and added lots of value to City. I was almost expecting them to do something like that again, even if they would not specifically add Catwoman again (I was mildly annoyed that Catwoman did appear in the mobile “companion”-game to Origins, but not in Origins itself – weird choice).
Not necessarily something I should hold against the game, but the game would often feel slower than City on my PC (unfortunately the wonderful combat seemed affected and felt less smooth than usually), although the graphics looked about the same. The worst letdown however, has to be that the grappling hook doesn’t attach to all surfaces anymore, which makes it harder to just fluently rush around like players were used to in these games. My guess is, all of this falls into the same category as the initial bugs. Optimization wasn’t their strong suit and/or a priority.
All of that makes Origins the right game for everyone, who has played through Asylum/City way too many times to do it again and still needs an Arkham fix anyway. People new to the franchise should get the first 2 instead and proceed from there, this one would not be the best start.

tl;dr Origins, at times, feels like a less perfect (fan?) mod, whereas Arkham City is the original.

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