Batman: Arkham Origins might not be out for the Sony Playstation 3 for the Xbox 360 until October 25th, but the iOS version came out on Thursday, and after spending copious amounts of time with it, here are ten bullet points on the game and why you should probably download it.
1. NetherRealms studios designed Batman: Arkham Origins to play a lot like the mobile version of Injustice. Tap the screen for fast but weak hits and slide your finger for hard but slow hits. You have special moves that charge with time (each of which are purchasable with in-game currency) and you put two fingers on the screen or just hold one down to block. That’s where the similarities end though. After all, you ONLY play as Batman here. Some other changes include having an actual block button that you can press if you prefer to go that route, switchable stances to give you more of an emphasis on damage or defense, and special moves that will change based on stance. So while the game will feel familiar to Injustice fans, it still feels like its own game. Just be warned that blocking has some detection issues, and when you do get it to work, there will be lag.
2. Battles have you fighting waves of enemies throughout one of four districts in Gotham. When you clear a district out, you’ll unlock the boss fight. After the boss fight, a new district unlocks, and you repeat the whole thing, but with harder enemies. In the previous district, new challenge battles worth extra experience points and money will now be available. Unlike previous battles, these are repeatable for grinding purposes.
3. As you complete battles, your Batman will level up, do more damage, attack faster and gain more health. You’ll also earn upgrade points and (very rarely) Waynetech points. Both can be used towards upgrading your skills or batsuits. Nearly every upgrade or batsuit accepts both, but the best things in the game require only Waynetech. After clearing out the first district, you will only have 13 Waynetech points, while the Liberty Files batsuit (the best of the Tier II suits) requires 60 Waynetech points to unlock. That’s roughly ten bucks. The Tier III and Tier IV suits cost even more points, and some battles can only be won by spending Waynetech on temporary stat boots or buying the crazy expensive suits, so that’s where you’ll be spending real money in the game if you want to 100% it. Thankfully, you can get pretty much everything in the game through grinding, and the game is pretty generous with upgrade points, so you can get good (but not the best) through just playing the game and getting good at it. In that respect, the game is far less of a cash grab than some Free to Play titles, including Injustice‘s iOS version.
4. Speaking of batsuits, you can get two powerful free ones without spending coin or buying some. The first is the Red Son suit, which you can get by linking the game with your Red Son ID. The second is a Tier IV costume (Blackest Night), which you get for free if you reach level 30 as a Joker gang member in the console version of Batman: Arkham Origins. This is the most powerful costume in the game, and it gives you an extra life in battle, so definitely go for this ASAP. Of course, you have to link the iOS version with the PS3 or Xbox 360 version with your WBID. I have no idea if the Vita or 3DS version will link.
5. Since I’ve brought up linking the iOS and Console versions of the game, I should mention there are more unlockables that just these two costumes. By repeatedly playing and leveling up your iOS Batman, you will unlock Cobblepot related items for the console game. Reaching Level 5 gets you a Cobblepot package, Level 10 gives you a Cobblepot satchel, Level 20 nets you a Cobblepot Case and Level 30 gives you the Premium Container. You can also get more console items by completing Daily Challenges or purchasing batsuits that come up. If you collect ten batsuits in the iOS game, you unlock the Red Son costume for your PS3 and/or 360. You should be able to do this without purchasing one of the freemium costumes if you grind a lot.
6. You can also get unlockables for the iOS version as you play the console version. You get upgrade points as you reach various levels in Multiplayer mode, either as a regular character, a member of the Joker gang or a member of Bane’s group. Reaching “prestige” in multiplayer or Level 30 as a Bane’s henchman will net you elusive Waynetech points, while Level 30 as the Joker’s gang member gets you that aforementioned Blackest Night suit for the iOS game. I’m glad they brought back the link aspect of the iOS and console games, as it added a fun new dynamic to Injustice and kept me playing both longer than I expected.
7. Man, I haven’t even gotten to talking about what you can spend your upgrade points ON. You have three categories: Skills, Assault Stance and Guarded Stance. Skills are always on passive abilities, like doing more damage, a higher critical hit rate, less damage to being stunned and so on. I’d advise leveling these up first, as they cost very little and have a constant effect. The other options cost a lot more and take time to charge. Even then, you have to be in the right stance to use them anyway. Assault Stance are the powers you can use while in this mode. You can basically upgrade the stance itself or the powers attached to it. The same is true for the Guarded Stance, but those abilities focus on healing and defense buffs.
8. The game looks amazing. The graphics feel like they were ripped out of the console version, much like Injustice. Animation is fluid, but there is slowdown from time to time. When the slowdown is coupled with the clock detection and lag issues, expect to get your butt kicked. Overall, the game looks and plays great, especially for a free download.
9. There’s a tiny bit of voice acting, but not much. Generally, if you lose to a boss or if Alfred has something to say between chapters, you’ll get some verbal banter – but that’s it. So don’t be playing this game expecting a ton of dialogue.
10. All in all, for a freemium game, Batman: Arkham Origins isn’t too bad. It’s a free download, gives you some nice rewards for the console version, is fun to play, and you don’t really need to spend money if you’re willing to put a little bit of grind time into the title. Once again, NetherRealm Mobile has done an excellent job with their iOS game. I only hope Warner Bros. Montreal does as good a job with the console version.