by Michael of ThinkingMichael.com
There’s a reason I’ve never criticized video games (that I can recall). They are the sole branch of the entertainment industry that puts tremendous care into their products. Video games now make more money than Hollywood, and I’m glad. Most video games today are cinematic themselves and usually more visually appealing than movies. Granted, good plots are compromised by a need to give the player as many battles as possible, but it’s a small price to pay.
That being said, not all video games are created equal, and not all are treated fairly. Today, I’d like to talk about a favorite of mine, which is Batman: Arkham Origins. This game receives a staggering amount of hate, and I honestly don’t know why. Some of it’s deserved, but not all or even most.
The game explores the philosophical relationship between Batman and his enemies, including his archnemesis, the Joker. It’s all summarized in one line by Joker, when he says, “We both exist because of them!”
Not only that, but it also touches on the fact that Batman, in a way, created all of his villains. Gotham never had costumed vigilantes or villains until Batman emerged, and any villains who already existed come to Gotham just to fight Batman. In Arkham Origins, 8 villains are hired by the Joker to eliminate Batman, which puts many innocent lives in the crossfire. Basically, Batman escalates the very problems he’s trying to defeat.
Power creates challengers to that power. There can never be one global superpower, one ruler, one rich person, or in Batman’s case, one superhero. In Arkham Origins, it’s shown how the Joker came to Gotham because the environment Batman created in the city was perfect for him to thrive, and he tried to kill Batman so nobody could stop him from causing as much chaos as possible. When Batman shows that he’s incorruptible, Joker has a change of heart, and realizes that he’s destined to play cat-and-mouse forever with Batman and henceforth has no desire to kill him.
This game is highly stylistic in its cutscenes, is very action-heavy for hardcore gamers who love a challenge, has a philosophical core to its story, and I will boldly make the claim that it has the best Joker of all time: Troy Baker.
Baker makes his Joker voice modeled after Mark Hamill, but adds excellent subtleties and greater energy to it. Mark Hamill was perfect for the era of hand-drawn animation, but Troy Baker is best for the era when anything of any scale can be done in video games and movies. He’s Hamill 2.0.
So, what problems does Origins actually have? A lot of bugs. For the designers to put so much emphasis on Batman beating his enemies to a pulp over stealth and problem-solving, you’d think they would have used a more reliable engine for the game. The bugs don’t make the game impossible, only difficult. Once you figure out what the bugs are exactly, it’s easy to work your way around them, but you’re going to be extremely frustrated with the game until you do.
My only other issue with the game isn’t a serious one. It’s the part where you battle Firefly. Whenever I reach that part, it feels like the game slammed on the brakes and now it’s dragging through mud. It’s not unbearable, I just don’t like it.
Other than the bugs, I really don’t understand why this game gets so much hate. It’s excluded by many fans of the Arkham games. The Arkham games are referred to as a trilogy even though there are 4 games. The Honest Trailers people did an episode for each of these games except Origins. They outright said, “We are NEVER doing one for Origins.” And I just thought to myself, If it’s so bad, why did you praise it in the Honest Trailer for Arkham Asylum? Also, if honest trailers are what you do, then shouldn’t the “bad” one get its own episode first instead of never? Whatever. The Honest Trailer people only echo what people tell them to think, and since a lot of people say Origins is bad, suddenly they changed their mind.
But seriously, I’d like to hear a good reason why this game is outright terrible. I haven’t heard any.