WB Games – Available to download on PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U, now.
Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate is a 2.5D platformer, originally released on PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS as a sequel of sorts to the console/PC release of Arkham Origins. It takes place a few months after the events of the bigger release, and sees Joker, Penguin and Black Mask, along with a few other well known characters taking over the infamous Blackgate prison. The story begins with Batman’s first encounter with Catwoman, stealing a device for a client, and attracting a lot of trouble. Whilst in pursuit of the athletic assailant, it takes the opportunity to run through a tutorial.
All the key features of the other Arkham games are present, from the old faithful grapnel gun, Batarang and explosive gel. Also still in use is the free-flow combat system, which up to now made taking on the Joker’s goons something of an art. Unfortunately it doesn’t translate well into the 2D environment, making it quite difficult to string together combos, and when there’s more than 3 adversaries on screen at once, it can get a bit convoluted and difficult to target on specific foes, particularly if they are on opposite sides of the screen. Luckily this is the only thing that doesn’t translate well, as the predator sections are pretty much the same as before, with vantage points and environmental distractions. The level design is pretty much what you come to expect from the series by now, with its dark, industrial style and labyrinth of rooms and corridors. A slight difference in this game is the omission of the Riddler challenges/trophies. In its place are cases to solve and alternate costume pieces to collect, which do add a bit more to the game if you enjoy the collectible side of things.
The game has a lot of similarities to the excellent Shadow Complex, which was released on Xbox Live Arcade a few years ago, and if you’ve played that gem of a game, you pretty much know what you’re in for with regards to the type of platformer this is. There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, treading over old ground and the like, but this does allow you to uncover areas previously unreachable to find secrets and other pick ups you may have missed previously. Blackgate also features cut-scenes in the ‘motion comic’ style, which is basically still drawings that are animated very slightly, with a voice over. The game will probably take around 8-9 hours to complete, plus a bit of time to collect all the pick ups and bonuses, and while the game is not on par with its console counterparts, it’s a great companion piece, with its own story, which doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the series, but is worth a punt if you’re a fan of the Arkham games.