Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Video Game Review

System: Vita (Reviewed), 3DS, Rating: T, Length: 7 hrs approx.

I’ll be straightforward and honest with you folks. The PS Vita is able to handle some really powerful graphics, as is evident by a bunch of games that contain open worlds (NFS Most Wanted, Assassins Creed: Liberation), yet more often than not, the Vita sadly gets lumped in with the 3DS (a great system, but less powerful than the Vita) and we end up with a slightly upgraded version, but downgraded compared to the console versions. Case in point, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a 2.5-D action adventure game. Gone is an open world and instead we have restricted paths and not a lot of variety. However, I’m probably going to be alone on this, I still think Blackgate is a good game, problems and all, which there are plenty of.

Short nitty-gritty plot description is as follows: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a 2.5-D game developed by Armature Studio that brings the Batman Arkham experience for the first time to Nintendo and Sony handheld systems. A companion game to Batman: Arkham Origins, players can continue the storyline of the console version and discover more detalis of the Dark Knight’s past.

Tatlock’s Quick ‘n Dirty Recap: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate takes places shortly after the console versions of Batman: Arkham Origins. It follows Batman going after the Catwoman, to send her off to Blackgate prison. Once she’s inside, Batman gets word that the prison is under attack and The Penguin, The Joker and Blackmask have taken over and each villain has a section of the prison for themselves. The Penguin has the Cell Blocks, Joker has the Administration buildings and Blackmask has the Industrial sections. It’s up to you as Batman to sneak in, occasionally fight some bad guys, have a few quick boss battles and backtrack, backtrack and backtrack.

Tatlock’s Opinion: I base my views on Blackgate by the fact that I started playing it one day and finished it the next day, for a total of 7 hours of gameplay. That to me means it’s a pretty good game. For you, it could be different, but I’m pretty lenient on issues, which this game has plenty of. For one, the game has copious amounts of backtracking, where you’ll go through numerous sections of the maps, which start to all look the same. Any bad guys you beat will not reappear, so you don’t even get to fight anyone when heading back, which is a shame, as this seems like it’s just padding the gameplay time.

As for the fighting, it works for the most part in this 2.5-D view. You’ll basically just button mash and move the left analog stick to beat the guys. There are special baddies where you’ll need to press certain buttons in order to beat them and this is where a few problems with the camera angles come into play. You more than likely end up attacking the wrong guy and getting whacked by the baddie you meant to attack. It can be pretty annoying, but the game isn’t overly hard, so it will take a little bit of health away, but you’ll just recoup and beat the crap out of them no problem. The only challenge I faced with the game was a couple boss battles, which came down to me being not quick enough with the button presses and getting one hit killed by machine gun toting baddies. Besides that, the boss battles are overly easy, along with the rest of the game.

So, if the game isn’t that difficult, what makes the game fun? Well for one, you’re Batman and when you do string a bunch of hit combos together, the game really shines and the story for the most part is good, keeping you going to see how it ends (I’m don’t follow the Batman stories, so I was a little lost on the ending). Also, the game has a good amount of secretes to find, which will contain upgrades for armor and a bunch of different suits to change into.

The Vita touch functionality is fairly limited (thank goodness) and resorts to just being used for the detective mode, which you use to scan the environment to figure out secrets; ie. where to go and what to do next. It can become monotonous, but in the end, it didn’t bother me too much, as it only takes a few seconds to scan the environment.

I can’t compare the 3DS version against the Vita, but I can tell you the Vita has some pretty visuals for the most part, with a few jagged edges rearing their ugly heads. The character models are detailed, with Batman looking great and only the baddies looking copy and pasted. I should mention, I did run into some bugs along the way, that required me to reboot the game. It usually involved Batman disappearing when accessing an elevator by accident and quickly heading back to the same area.

Verdict: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate doesn’t use the full potential of the Vita, which is a damn shame, but it still doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. The constant backtracking and limited fighting make things tedious and lackluster, but all things aren’t bad. There is some fun to be had in the few fights you get into and the secrets to unlock can be a lot of fun. Plus, much like the Metroid games that inspired this one, it’s always fun to unlock special abilities along the way.

Rating: 3/5 (-3 for too much backtracking, lack of difficulty for the most part and not enough fighting. +3 for a fun enough story, secrets to unlock and some nice visuals.)

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