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‘Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition’ earns a spot in the franchise

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition
Armature Studio

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition (Xbox 360)

Rating:
Star3
Star
Star
Star
Star

A follow-up to last year’s game, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate was originally released on handheld systems but has now been given an HD upgrade and released on home consoles. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition features a 2.5 dimension fixed camera. For the most part players will experience a simple left-to-right flow of action in which the game world is seen much like a classic sidescroller.

However, players will be able to use many of Batman’s gadgets to take different paths. By entering air ducts or throwing a grappling line, gamers will be able to switch the movement field beyond a simple 2D environment as they are able to move in the map’s backgrounds at certain points.

Instantly recognizable as part of the Arkham universe

Despite the fact that Blackgate Deluxe Edition doesn’t place players into a 3D open-world setting like the series’ major releases, the game still manages to capture combat that will be instantly recognizable to fans of the Arkham franchise. Besides using Batman’s signature fighting style, gamers can perform the stealth takedowns, cape stuns, and real-time counter prompts just as they can in any other Arkham title.

In fact, combat is actually one of the highlights in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition. So much so that players will likely end up wishing that there were more thuggish prisoners to actually take on.

Those wonderful toys

Batman simply wouldn’t be Batman without his expensive gadgets and Arkham Origins Blackgate gives fans a small arsenal of the Dark Knight’s tools to play with. All of the gadgets inside the game are take straight from the full console releases of the Arkham series so fans will be instantly familiar with them.

To take on the inmates of Blackgate, players eventually gain the batarang, grappling hook, zip line, and explosive charges. Batman doesn’t have access to all of the gear from the start of the game however. Instead, gamers must find each gadget inside various WayneTech chests that are hidden throughout the prison.

Acquiring the different tools will allow Batman to get to new areas of Blackgate Prison that were previously unreachable. For example, players can use the zip line to cross gaps that were otherwise too wide or detonate controlled explosive charges to open up new paths by breaking down weak wall segments.

The Detective Mode camera returns to help fans know when their tools may come in handy. However, many of the game’s secrets can’t be seen in detective mode alone. Gamers must instead use a scanner to manually scope out their surroundings for hidden clues. This process works like a high-tech magnifying glass and players have to get use to using it to scour nearly every inch of the prison because the game requires its frequent use in order to progress.

A number of secret WayneTech caches can also be discovered by using the scope and various gadgets. These hidden chests provide upgrades to Batman’s armor and attack strength. Additionally, fans can find pieces to other Batsuits which will allow players to don different outfits after discovering all of the pieces. Batman gains different benefits from each suit such as improved armor or partial bullet immunity, but using one of the advanced costumes disables leaderboards for the play session.

Meet the prison and its residents

The game’s map is broken down into four main sections, with three regions being comprised of interior structures of Blackgate Prison itself. The fourth area is the prison’s outer grounds which houses a lighthouse. Each of the three central buildings have been taken over by a different member of Batman’s standard roster of villains. The Penguin has setup roost in the cellblocks while the Joker has taken prison personnel hostage in the Administration building. Finally, Black Mask controls the facility’s power supply as he has complete control over Blackgate’s Industrial Complex.

Unfortunately, players will become all too familiar with the interior of Blackgate Prison as the title requires gamers to constantly backtrack and revisit each area repeatedly. Defeated thugs will respawn in certain areas of the prison, but not enough to keep the experience feeling action-oriented. Instead, much of the gameplay consists only of running back and forth throughout Blackgate while searching for secret passages in Detective Mode.

This is definitely a Batman experience

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition is a good companion to the other Arkham titles. Even with a 2.5 dimension camera, developer Armature Studio managed to capture the feel of combat from the main Arkham franchise. Taking advantage of the two-dimensional nature of the game, the title’s cutscenes are told through hand-drawn animated comic book panels. This helps give the game a unique style of its own.

For those who didn’t feel like they got to run around Blackgate enough during the campaign, there are several additional Batman costume pieces to search for as well as a new game plus mode that will give fans a reason to keep playing.

Diehard Batman fans or those who really enjoy the combat of the Arkham series should probably try Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition. However, even though the game technically is in 2.5D, the majority of the gameplay is basically only two dimensional so anyone who dislikes classic side-scrollers might want to give this one a pass.

Positives

  • Successfully captures the combat of the Arkham series
  • Creates a memorable, stylized Batman experience through the use of comic cutscenes and the shifting environment of Blackgate itself

Negatives

  • Repeatedly has players backtracking through the same areas
  • Detective Mode scans require gamers to frequently search for off-camera visual clues in order to progress

A copy of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition was provided on Xbox Live Arcade for the purposes of this review.