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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Batman: Arkham Origins.

TranscriptEdit

When it comes to superhero adaptations, it's a shame that films always let all the talking get in the way of kicking people in the head so hard that your bootprint replaces their memory of their mother's face, but films usually only having one or two villains at a time does seem like the smarter approach, 'cause it was all very well in Arkham Asylum, having a conga line of big names taking turns to get frowned at, but it does mean that by the time you get to the third game, you're really gonna have to start digging through the cellars of the DC Universe for fresh faces.

But y'know, at least in Arkham Asylum and City, all the big villains are already-established veterans of the Bat-fisting, so if they'd brought them all back in the prequel to explore all their origins, I wouldn't have thrown more than three toys out of the pram; if it meant that Arkham Origins wouldn't be trying to sell fucking Copperhead or Firefly as big-name draws. "Your enemies shall define you," went the marketing tagline, in which case, Batman, you are one dull fucking son of a bitch.

As our story opens, Bruce Wayne has been Batman for two years, and the evil crime lord Black Mask– you know, this video will pass quicker if you stop pausing it every ten seconds to look up who the fuck these characters are– puts out a hit on Batman, despite him ostensibly being considered a myth at this point, but manages to attract an array of costumed assassins anyway, who presumably had nothing else to do with their weekend, including both Deathstroke and Deadshot, which is like inviting Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg to the same party and insisting they wear the same outfit. But this is just the beginning, as Batman uncovers signs of a dangerous new villain unlike anything Gotham has ever– it's the Joker, alright? And since his face is all over the fucking posters, I spoil that with no shame whatsoever.

What I wonder about, though, is how technology relates to the Arkham timeframe; despite being a prequel, everyone uses smartphones and high-speed internet, so Arkham Origins takes place, broadly-speaking, now? And the other two games must've retroactively taken place in the future? Then where were all the jetpacks, fuckwit!? And why does Batman start the game already with half the gadgets you have to unlock over time in Arkham City? Does he just ditch his entire utility belt every now and again? Perhaps after it pulls his trousers down one too many times!

This could be explained, but I get the feeling that Arkham Origins just couldn't be arsed to, and that's kind of the running theme. In every Arkham game, you are trapped in an enclosed environment and the only other people you run into are goons, to the point it might be more efficient to just sprint through the streets with your fists held out. In Arkham Asylum, this was because you were trapped in a place specifically designed to securely hold goons; in Arkham City, they made a big point about how part of Gotham had been sectioned off to hold all the goons so they could all goon it up away from the eyes of all the non-goon; but in this case they don't explain it at all; this is just what Gotham City's like, apparently: 100% goon density. As soon as you graduate, it's straight down to Goon Recruitment to pick up your fingerless gloves and baseball bat; unless you're a girl, in which case here are some pamphlets on ninja-ing.

Also, the city is somehow smaller than the section of the city the last game took place in. Again, there could be a reason for it; this is a prequel, maybe there was a really fucking drastic development boom after this, but again, they couldn't be arsed. Not about anything.

"What shall we do for the box art, Warner Bros.?"
"Just make it a black closeup of Batman looking sad. But don't let me catch you getting arsed about it, or you'll be in trouble! When I can be arsed."

"Gosh!" said two separate friends of mine, "I would play Arkham Origins, but I haven't finished Arkham City yet!" Well, you lazy fucks, my advice would be to finish off Arkham City and then lie staring at a ceiling for a while, because then you won't have to buy Arkham Origins, 'cause you'll have had the essential experience. It is basically just Arkham City, and they could've done some things to hide that, like change the GUI or come up with some different gadgets, but as we've established, they couldn't be arsed. At one point, I started to suspect that some parts of the game world might've been directly copy-pasted from Arkham City's sandbox, but I'm still not sure if that was the case. So either they did and they're lazy assholes, or they didn't and they just wasted a whole bunch of effort 'cause I couldn't tell either way. There is less of a fantastical element to things than the previous games, I'd say; more mercenaries with half-hearted gimmicks and less shapeshifting blob monsters, so that's something, I suppose. They're breaking new ground by very innovatively making the series more boring!

I suppose Arkham Origins might be worth buying if you want more of the combat and raw gameplay of Arkham City but DLC just isn't scratching that itch, and also you've been diagnosed with a catastrophic heart condition that has led you to demand a severe reduction in excitement. But then again, at any moment, you might get hit by a bug and get finished off by impotent rage. There are fun bugs, like when foes' positioning has a little hiccup and a prone thug somehow manages to break his own arm while Batman does a little twist-'n'-shout six feet away. At one point, a thug's animation died and he stood frozen in mid-swing, grinning cruelly as I circled his stationary form, perplexed. Sadly, he ragdoll-ized before I could start hanging Christmas decorations. Less amusing were the game-breaking bugs. I had my fair share of crashes and hangs with the PC version, and ran into what is apparently a common bug which prevents the completion of one of the Riddler side-missions, but, frankly, I can't even manufacture rage about that. "Oh, damn! How galling! 'Cause I was totally gonna do all of those!"

So Arkham Origins stinks of 'obligatory low-effort sequel', but what I keep coming back to is that tagline, "Your enemies shall define you", 'cause it's true; Batman has some of the best villains in the business 'cause they all reflect an aspect of Batman: Two-Face reflects his duality; Scarecrow, his use of fear and psychological tactics; Poison Ivy, his, er... shapely buttocks. But that whole element is lost with a D-list villain lineup; I don't know what the fuck Firefly is supposed to reflect, unless Batman routinely overcooks his jacket potatoes. Bane is the rather dreary and anticlimactic final boss fight, but I'm not sure why; he's one of the mercenaries who are after the Bat-bounty, but even after that gets withdrawn, he retains an inexplicable obsession with getting a chance to twat that Bat, going so far as to risk his own life to that end, when I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be a more pragmatic bloke.

I suspect, mealy-mouthed cynic that I am, that we owe his recent film portrayal for the pleasure of Bane's company, 'cause he's kinda half-way between "comic book Bane" and "Old Mr. Face-Like-A-Spider's-Jockstrap", being the leader of a group of idealistic mercenaries. Doesn't have the jockstrap face, though; wearing Tom Hardy's jockstrap on your face just gives the game away. I learned that at the Academy Awards.

AddendaEdit

  • Fisting all day long: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Mad Hatter officially has two appearances to Scarecrow's one and that is not a situation that makes the least bit of sense
  • "Lambast" is such a strong word

ScreenshotsEdit

ZP BAO 1

Digging through the cellars of the DC Universe for fresh faces.

ZP BAO 2

As soon as you graduate, it's straight down to Goon Recruitment to pick up your fingerless gloves and baseball bat; unless you're a girl, in which case here are some pamphlets on ninja-ing.

ZP BAO 3

Bane is the rather dreary and anticlimactic final boss fight, but I'm not sure why.

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins

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