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Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition

Score: 65%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Armature Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Platformer (2.5D)

Graphics & Sound:

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition is a mouthful for a reason. The is the console version of the portable version of the console version of the sequel to the sequel of a Batman game. That probably calls for a bit more explanation.

Batman: Arkham Origins was the third installment of the series of Arkham games for consoles. Given the great reception the series has gotten, a handheld game was made to take this saga to the handheld systems. However, the Arkham series doesn't scale down naturally to handheld system, so instead of attempting to port the console game to a handheld system, a new game was built from the ground up, using the same backdrop and look and feel of the Arkham line. This was Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, which was released on the Vita. Now, that game has been ported to the PS4, with improved graphical treatment, for an enhanced experience on the big(ger) screen.

The game is a 2.5D platformer. It's primarily a side-scrolling game, but certain areas will rotate the camera as you proceed around a corner or the like, to add a feeling of depth. The backgrounds and characters are rendered in 3D, with cut-scenes done in a cartoony comic-book fashion, which gives the game an interesting look, but it also does a fairly good job (during actual gameplay) of mimicking the look of the series.

I, personally, didn't like the voicework too much, but was pleased by its presence, given that it was ported from a handheld. The sound effects sound good, but don't offer a lot of variation, so the sounds can get a bit redundant at times.

When you hear that a handheld game has been ported to a console, a likely first response is to ask, "Why?" Having played Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition, I find myself pondering that very question. The console version does have some additional features and tweaks, however. As mentioned above, the visuals are enhanced for the big screen, but additionally, there are more bat suits to unlock, some new maps, new enemy encounters and new difficulty levels.


While Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition does a good job of capturing the "flavor" of the Arkham series, with Detective Mode, similar fight mechanics, places to perch and attack enemies from above stealthily and Batman's trademark gadgetry, the gameplay comes off as quite different from the original console games in the series. Fights are less precise, with less variety and more lag, removing the allure that the Arkham series fights have with fights that feature Batman rapidly and tactically switching between opponents and taking on all comers in a veritable dance of violence.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition bears a lot of the features of the Arkham series, but fails to deliver the fluidity - the flow - that the console games had, which greatly reduces the enjoyment of the game. As an example, the previous console games of the series featured a "Detective" mode that provides an enhanced view similar to IR or X-ray vision, which can be used to find hidden details, such as weak areas of a wall, floor or ceiling that can be broken through or blown up. This game has that, too - simply tap your Left Trigger to toggle it on and off. When you want to investigate a specific item that lights up in Detective Mode, you hold the Left Trigger down (pausing your movement) and you have to scroll a circle around the screen, much like a flashlight, then hover over specific items long enough for it to identify something for you. If you haven't identified the thing, you can't use it. (Oh, and that includes if you have already investigated to see what it is, but have died and worked your way back to it again*.) Yup, you better check it out all over again, or who knows what it might be this time.

Gameplay is divided primarily between clunky fights, avoiding environmental hazards (such as spike strips, chattering teeth, Joker gas and electrical traps) and trying to figure out how to get to some target location elsewhere in the building. This process of searching for where to go will have you scouring every corner of the compound with your Detective vision, looking for interactive elements, such as trap doors in the ceiling that can be knocked open with a handy Bat-a-rang. Then, hopefully, you have the correct Bat-gadget to interact with it... or, if not, at least pray that you can still find your way back to the entrance of the building you're in, so you can leave and travel to another building that contains the Bat-gadget you lack. I don't generally suggest the use of walk-throughs (mind you, strategy guides are completely different), but in this case, I highly recommend you refer to one and make sure you get all your Bat-goodies before confronting the Joker.

*One thing that's more annoying than dying in an area you died in earlier is dying in that area because the thing you already know about isn't available for you to use it because you haven't investigated it again since you last died. Fun.


Given the difference in gameplay between Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition and the Arkham series on consoles, the fights are much less fluid. Because of this, I found that instead of "bouncing" between opponents and stringing along a series of hits, I tended to keep myself on one side of the fight to avoid being surrounded. The console version introduces some additional difficulty levels, but these are aimed at providing more challenge, so if you find the difficulty to be too much, you're kinda on your own.

As in the other Arkham series games, there are different types of enemies that you will encounter. Some will require that you stun them with your cape or block their attack before hitting them and doing damage. Additionally, there are enemies with guns that will happily unload round after round into you, if they can. Typically, if you see a gun, you are supposed to find a stealthy way to take out that enemy. Batman is many things, but bulletproof is not one of them.

One particularly frustrating aspect of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition is the map. It can be extremely confusing at times, which is pretty bad, given that you have to backtrack to find ways to proceed forward. I would suggest checking the map early and often, to get a feel for how it works and where you are. Otherwise, when you actually need to use the map, it won't be of much assistance.

Game Mechanics:

I haven't played the portable version of the game, so I can't say that something is "lost in translation," but Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition on the 360 feels like it should be on a portable system. The controls simply aren't as fluid as one would expect from a console title. The graphics aren't bad, but again, they feel like a handheld version of the console game, rather than a full-fledged console game.

Part of the clumsiness of the controls is due to the location-based context-sensitive nature of some of the actions Batman can take. Not only do you have to be at just the right spot (which can be a bit confusing when interacting with something in the background, given the 2.5D nature of the game), but sometimes you have to crouch to enter a low air vent, while other times you have to hit an action button, which causes Batman to crouch and enter the air vent. This lack of consistency makes for unintuitive controls and unexpected response, which might be more readily accepted in a portable game, but is fairly unforgivable on a console.

Some games attempt to break away from linear game flow by allowing players to choose the order in which they want to undertake certain goals. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition does this by allowing you to take on three different sections of Blackgate Prison, each taken over by three different villains. When a game features well-designed, non-linear gameplay, it can give the feeling of more freedom to players. However, I found myself trapped in the Administration building with the Joker and without the BatClaw, which I needed to proceed through the Administration building. So, I would need to go to the Cell Blocks to get that from the Penguin. Which, while requiring doubling back wouldn't be too horrible... if it were possible. I can't leave the Administration building because, as I said, I'm trapped by the Joker, so I can't go get the BatClaw. That leaves me with the solitary option of starting the game over. This is a horrible flaw. If you make a game, this should be considered a bug, much like the screen freezing up or melting down the console. Players may want to play a game over after concluding the game to see other possible outcomes. When they have a slowly dawning realization that they're doomed to be stuck where they are and not progress because of some indirect choice they made earlier in the game, they are more likely to not want to play the game again. Ever.

If you are the type who has to collect all things Batman, then there's probably no reason for you to have read this review. If you already have the game on a handheld device, you may want to keep that version and leave it at that. If you really loved that version and, perhaps, sold your handheld system, then you might want to pick up the console version. Even then, however, I would suggest trying the Demo first (link below). Newcomers to the Arkham series should definitely start with one of the games that was built on a console, not ported there.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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