Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By John Graham 10.10.2014 3

Review for Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 was extremely disappointed with Batman: Arkham Origins, despite the story and presentation being highly impressive. It was with some hesitation then that the 3DS spin-off, Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate was tried out. With the development staff being Armature Studio, though – former Retro Studios members – intrigue got the better of the team and it is now time to see whether the upstart company could pull off a better Batman than Warner Bros.

Those that have played Batman: Arkham Origins should note that this takes place mere months afterwards. There has been a riot at Blackgate Prison and, unfortunately, some of the toughest bad guys of Gotham take over the prison, holding staff hostage. Cue Batman as he tries to take down the likes of Joker, the Penguin and Black Mask, and ultimately rescue anyone held captive deep within the facility.

Visually the game is somewhat of a mixed bag, with chunky characters looking great during the zoomed out viewpoint, but starting to look much lower quality when up close and personal, with some particularly blurry and shoddy textures, as well as pixellation being noticeable. Clearly this was to ensure the 3DS version does not suffer from slowdown, and indeed the game manages to keep the action going smoothly and quickly for the majority of the adventure. The cut-scenes, on the other hand, are a marvel; simply sublime to watch due to their comic-book animation approach – something that could have worked better for the entire game, if truth be told.

Everything has been done by Armature from scratch, and there are new dynamic camera angles to help give a better sense of scope in the 2D plane, like when the camera zooms in over Batman's shoulder if on a zipline or swooping upwards to reach a top-down vantage point when on a gargoyle for an inverted takedown.

Armature Studio has adapted the Batman experience as best as it could for the lack of buttons the 3DS has compared to other formats, but there is use of the touch screen to take into consideration, with Detective Mode and the Batcomputer both mapped there, but there are some sacrifices, like having both the crouch and stun attack options combined into one button. Everything feels as it should, though, with nothing proving to be a hindrance. Moving around, fighting enemies, sneaking through ducts and firing off Batarangs is just as easy as it ever was.

Screenshot for Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on Nintendo 3DS

It should be noted that Batman cannot jump here simply by using an action button, using a grapnel gun to reach other sections and higher locations. This is simply a mix of wandering around on a 2.5D plane, brawling and using stealth where necessary. Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate is reminiscent of Metroid games, with players roaming around, following an intricate map in an attempt to find useful gadgets and upgrades for the Bat suit so that other places can be revisited and new pathways unlocked.

On the combat front, players can now view the sightlines of any enemies, meaning that more strategy is possible, being able to determine whether or not Batman is in their field of vision, and during Detective Moe, Batman actually changes colour, dependent on his proximity or on how close he is to being seen. When encountering bad guys, there are options to attack, counter, stun, dodge roll or use gadgets, and it all feels like it did before, except in a tighter environment, rather than the previous 3D space – it is still possible to be ‘surrounded,’ so to speak, so consideration needs to be taken in order to survive as there is less room to escape. Dodge rolling through crowds can help, and once accustomed to, whilst enjoyable, it isn't really that difficult.

Also scaled back for this portable iteration is the stealth aspect, with far less grandeur than the console games, and although hiding high up or under floor gratings is possible, they have less impact than before, and again there is a lack of challenge thanks to less enemies piling in for fisticuffs, and it is not like the difficulty settings can be ramped up, either, even for the New Game + option. Enemies never respawn, and this becomes a big issue later in the game when the map has led Batman astray and trekking back involves going through completely barren landscapes; a solitary experience that grows tiresome quickly.

A positive element, though, is its multiple endings, with the order of boss battles being tackled leading to various permutations of the game’s closing scenes. There are side missions included as well, with gamers encouraged to uncover the true events that led to the explosion prior to the prisoner breakout. As for the New Game + feature, pieces of various costumes can be earned, with the remaining pieces being found during exploration of the prison.

Screenshot for Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Whilst linear for the most part, the action in Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate is still extremely enjoyable throughout and there is actually plenty of scope for unlocking new areas to explore and interesting aspects to learn about from scanning the surroundings. Armature has brought its experience with the Metroid Prime series and applied it expertly to the world of Batman. Definitely one to consider!

Developer

Armature

Publisher

Warner Bros

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Great stuff, John, and welcome to the site!

There were two things that got me down about this:

- routes that looked like you should be able to go down them, but couldn't because the game forced Batman along with an invisible wall
- getting lost further into the game became far too frequent an occurrence with the map not showing what level you're on clearly enough. Sure it looked like I was in the right place at times, but actually a level below or too high! Smilie

BUT, I agree with the 7/10 score because overall I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the minor gripes, and I could really feel a sense of Metroid Prime about it in places. I'm looking forward to whatever Armature does next!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Thanks for being my first comment. I never actually had troubles with the map, in either the 3DS or PC release. I'm just crazy enough that my mind had no problems understanding the chaos that is weird and confusing game maps. Given I've never had the problem myself, I never thought about mentioning it in the review. Sorry about that.

Well, it's one of those things, isn't it? Some people will have had no problems, whilst others may have. However, if you didn't...then there's no need to mention it Smilie

Maybe it was me not giving the game enough attention. But I found myself wandering aimlessly at times, and then getting fed up of trekking back and forth. Never finished it, sadly, as I had to move on to other games Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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