Surprisingly well. At least, visually anyway.
Blackgate is basically Origins from the side with a few turns here and there which allow you to go around corners or branching paths, but ultimately you are forced down a linear hallway where you can go through vents, grapple to ledges, and do what the Batman is known to do. You won’t be gliding and diving over great expanses or visiting a multitude of different areas. Instead you’ll be stuck with Blackgate prison and will travel back and forth between 4 different areas – which, while controlled by different villains, after a while all tend to look the same.
Much like the regular Arkham games, Batman has his detective vision that he can enable to find useable objects within the environment. Blackgate has a different twist with the vision in that when in detective vision, objects that can be interacted with will glow yellow and will then need to be “analyzed” by moving a small circle on to it until a short meter fills up. Once, for example, a breakable wall is analyzed, you can then interact with it with your explosive gel — but not before. After a while it becomes a tedious chore that you constantly need to do in order to proceed, even though you know where and what your next steps should be.
Instead of animated cutscenes, Blackgate uses a comic book style to tell the tale, with still drawings illustrating the story — such as your very first encounter with Catwoman when you kick her in the face followed up with a comic drawing of her dripping blood from her nose onto her massively exposed cleavage — it is both a little cringe-worthy and upfront in showing that the game is intended to be a serious outing.
Blackgate tries to incorporate a Metroid-style into its gameplay, making backtracking when you receive new items and additional inventory a key part of the game. To say the game makes you backtrack a lot is an understatement — the amount of backtracking in this game is astonishing. One of the greatest complaints of the Vita version was that the in-game map was useless. It was a top down view for a side-scrolling game that just didn’t work. Thankfully for the console release, the map has been upgraded with an isometric 3D view that is much better. It can still be a little difficult to tell where you need to go, but it is at least usable now.
I’m not one to be super negative about backtracking in games as it can be well used, and interesting when done correctly — but even after you have defeated all the bosses and are ready for the final confrontation, you still need to track down 5 addition items. Each tells you where the next is located, but you can be damn sure they are never even remotely close to each other. It’s a poor way to drag the game out and if I hadn’t already dealt with most of the bosses, chances are I would have just said “screw it.”
The bosses in the game are mostly a rehash from the previous Batman games, with a few non-interesting ones thrown in for mediocre measure. The battles with them aren’t all that difficult once you figure out their pattern and what you need to do to defeat them, but getting to that part can be a tough time and gives you a sense of satisfaction when they finally drop.
Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate gives players a lot to hunt for while playing, as there are numerous suits to unlock by finding 5 pieces of each. For three of the suits, you will need to play the game through three times as each play-through will give you only one needed piece. It’s a dirty way to get completionists to collect all of the suits, but at least when you do get them, you can use them right away and not have to wait to play a new game.
If you didn’t get a chance to check out Blackgate on the Vita, the console version, with its updated map, is a much better version to give a whirl. Even without the incredible amount of backtracking, the game can take a while to complete your first time through but it ultimately is a nice change of scenery from the usual Arkham games.
Title: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Platforms Available: Xbox 360, PS3
Platformed Reviewed: Xbox 360
Game provided for review