Last night, Warner Bros. hosted a special press event that showcased some of their upcoming titles. From imminent releases: Arkham Origins and Lego Marvel Super Heroes, to titles that are still a little ways away: Dying Light and Mad Max, we got to see how they all play, and then get our hands on with a few. I got to go one on one with Batman: Arkham Origins and Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and I have to say my experience with each was quite positive. Check out our thoughts on the games below:
There have been a lot of concerns with Batman: Arkham Origins since it was announced a few months ago. Many wondered if Warner Bros. Montreal could hold a candle to the legacy that Rocksteady had created for Batman. Well after my hands on experience last night, I can officially tell you that not only does the title look like an Arkham title, but plays like one too.
The freeflow combat that was introduced in Arkham Asylum, and expanded upon in Arkham City makes a triumphant return, and is just as fluid and intuitive as ever. In the brief time that I played, I fought no less than four groups of enemies using the series’ renowned combat style. Everything felt exactly the same as it did in previous installments, but had a few added extras like different enemy types to combat as well as enemies who can counter Batman’s own counter-attacks. The additions may seem small but go a long way in differentiating enemy types, which in turn keeps you on your feet as a player. One more addition to the combat system is that you are now graded at the end of every fight. Staying more fluid and mixing up your use of gadgets and martial arts moves scores you higher, which in turn awards you with more EXP to spend on upgrades for the Caped Crusader.
Moving away from combat, the scope and feel of the game is awesome too, and while I was unable to explore much of Gotham City, what I saw will definitely make Bat-fans feel at home. The dark and dank cities that are covered in a thick layer of snow are daunting, and downright chilling (no Mr. Freeze style pun intended). It all plays really well into the story for Arkham Origins.
We all know that Origins is a prequel to the events of AA and AC, and yesterday we had conformation from the horse’s mouth that this takes place during Batman’s second year of crime fighting. Up until this time, the Bat has only been facing off against street crime, and has never encountered any of the costumed or fantastic rogues gallery that we as fans have come to know and love. That all changes on this snowy Christmas Eve however as Black Mask hires some of the world’s best assassins to eliminate the Dark Knight. Due to this game being set in what is without a doubt the formative years of Bruce’s life, the Batman we see is not the same cool, calm and collected figure. Instead, here is brash, caustic, cocky and even downright emotional at some points. This is certainly a different type of Batman than we are used to, but one that is a joy to see none the less.
One huge benefit that the game has by taking place so early in Batman’s career is that we get to see him when he is still an urban legend to the people of Gotham. Nobody knows for sure if he is real or not, and this makes for a largely different experience when it comes to interacting with thugs and even the police. I have only seen a brief snippet of the game, but I can tell that this urban-legend status will come up more than once.
Also, I made sure to ask the game’s Creative Director; Eric Holmes if the game will be rife with easter eggs and secrets for batman fanatics to scour the city to find. In response he showed me a section of the game that takes place within the Batcave (still under construction during the events of the game) and more specifically, Bruce’s crime board, which shows newspaper clippings for a certain red-hooded criminal among others, confirming that yes, the game will be FILLED with secrets and easter eggs.
So although my time with Arkham Origins was brief, and I can’t make a complete judgement call on the game as of yet, I think it is safe to say that if the rest of the game is anything like the demo, then it will be a great experience and we can all rest east: Warner Bros. Montreal have proven their mettle here, and have shown that they are worthy of wearing the symbol of the bat.
I still can’t get over how much of a logistical nightmare this game must have been to put together. You have Marvel heroes (who are owned by Disney) in a game that is published by Warner Bros. The fact that this game exists at all is astounding, and the fact that it is any good is even more so!
The demo for Lego Marvel was just one stage in the game, giving players an opportunity to play as Mr. Fantastic and Captain America (with Spider-Man joining later on). What initially caught my eye was how different characters and their unique powers play into the level design and puzzle solving a lot more than previous entries. You will have to squeeze through a sewer grate with Mr. Fantastic, then switch back to Captain America and use his shield to activate a lever etc. It is stuff that we have seen before in Lego games, but the bar has definitely been raised here. The biggest benefit to this is that multiplayer often feels like a more co-operative experience, instead of just having another player tag along. Although oftentimes I found myself stuck waiting in the same spot while my co-op partner figured out their section of the puzzle and then vice versa.
Visually the game is about on par with other titles in the series; Lego is pretty hard to screw up. However, I was playing the PS4 version of the game, and there wasn’t much visually that really impressed me. The textures all looked like they would on a current gen console. This isn’t really a criticism, as the game still looks great and is filled with a tonne of colour and vibrancy that will have everyone’s attention glued to the page, as well as rife with easter eggs for the knowledgeable comic book fan.
I have said before that Lego Marvel Superheroes looks like it will be the definitive Marvel game, and seeing it in action, I maintain that mindset. The character roster is well over 100 different heroes and villains, each with their traits and abilities in tact from their various iterations. The game even features relatively unknown characters like Howard the Duck, who is pretty much just a duck in a suit.
All in all, Lego Marvel Super Heroes looks like it will be a fun romp through a Lego-ised version of the Marvel Universe, and one that all Lego fans or comic book fans need to give a look too.
So there you have it, our hands-on experience with Batman: Arkham Origins and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Each of these games hits store shelves soon, Batman on Oct 25th and Lego Marvel on Nov 13th. So, as always, for all the Super Hero and Warner Bros. news as it becomes available, stay tuned to Capsule Computers.