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Hello all ! Wanted to post my initial thoughts on Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate for the Vita that I started on Friday night. Hope you enjoy.So far, overall, it is a good game. Comic style story scenes are excellent. They remind me quite a bit of the style of story scenes in Infamous 1. The game itself is really a combination of Metroid and Castlevania style play with a great looking coat of current Arkham game paint. The graphics are certainly not on par with KZ:M or Dragon's Crown but they are worlds above many Vita games. Most everything operates on a "fake" 3D plane which actually is really cool. You use left and right to move and Batman seamlessly goes around corners, certain obstacles, down ledges, and up to vents. Things will pop up in the foreground and background also that you can grapple or walk to or blow up / interact with. All of the bat tools are there and are all a joy to use.
This leads to one of my favorite aspects of the game. This game does not hold your hand. There are tons of small areas to explore that you actually have to be paying attention to find either with level queues or the detective scanner. The map is cryptic which works well as it is not simply showing you EXACTLY in detail where everything is. Plenty of searching is there, and it reminds me somewhat of having to turn into a ball and go hunt out missile packs and suit upgrades in a Metroid game. I found myself not sure where to go multiple times. The Map is even "Super Metroid style". (Pic is 3DS but map portion is similar)
On the flipside of that, because of the amount of collectibles, I feel that for a first playthrough, I am being asked to touch the screen with a finger to scan everywhere a little too much. I feel it detracts from the flow of the game a bit as you can't walk while doing it, so I would recommend going and finding all the extras on a second playthrough. Another detractor is that when you are in detective mode it makes the level graphics so BORING. The prison is already understandably dismal and drab but the scanner purple graphics are really boring...I definitely am constantly turning scanning on and off or simply only using touchscanning as I can't stand running around with it left on.
Also the boss battles. Wow...Some of the bosses in this game are just simple beat ups while others are unbelievably cryptic and difficult which I thought was REALLY FUN. The Joker and Penguin took at least 25 to 30 deaths to figure out what to do. Black Mask was a bit of a pushover in this game but he still took a lot also. There is also a flipside to this...While the villains in this game are AWESOME story and fightwise, the regular enemies (joker and penguin guards, inmates, and whatnot) are almost exclusively cannon fodder. To be completely honest, I felt the exact same way about the console Arkham games too. I always felt like I was just mowing through 30 people at once without getting hit. That is predominant in this game also, and moreso. It seems the max you can fight onscreen at once is 4 and sometimes they will have many keep coming as others die, but these enemies are too easy. I really feel this game would be far superior if it included a hard mode that had respawning enemies as you revisit areas, or simply more of them. It can be cumbersome backtracking through areas to figure out where to go next or look for collectibles and never fight anyone because they are all dead. For a game that requires a lot of revisiting of areas of the prison I feel this was a misstep, and somewhat hurts replay value.
I have played the game for somewhere around 7.5 hours and am marked at 81% completion and I am in the beginning of last area of the prison. (I think). For anyone who is a fan of the console Arkham games, Batman comics, or Metroid series you will enjoy this game. It has excellent controls and certainly meets the Batman "feeling" the current gen games have offered on a smaller scale. I havn't been able to put it down so far, and I could see a smash hit being created if these DEV's are allowed to make another portable Batman game and fix the few errors this one had. 7.5 / 10
RANDOM FINAL THOUGHTS:
I have found a lot of the collectables but certainly not all of the detective case clues. The villain collectibles are relatively easy to spot. But there are TONS of case clues hidden in hidden areas. I am not sure how long the ending portion will be. I will post an update in the comments here. If you love the Arkham games but are looking for something different this is a great buy. The developers certainly were successful in keeping the feel of the series while offering up something totally different which seems to be what they set out to do. I think a lot of the negative reviews are ripping on this game because it is not quite as in depth and is not 3D like the console Arkhams, but that is clearly not what they were after. Also I have heard from several friends that Origins is basically exactly like City but not quite as good, so I would call Blackgate successful. Also, don't listen to the people hating on it because of the lack of detail in the map and the searching for "needle in a haystack" routes and tools. These inclusions make the game much better than handholding would have accomplished.