After a delay, the bundle known as Batman: Return to Arkham is set to hit shelves on October 21st and it contains remastered versions of the popular Batman: Arkham franchise from the previous generation. While the first look we got at the remastered graphics weren't all that impressive, the newest trailer showed us much improvement.
However, in my opinion, this bundle is already a disappointment due to one thing: Batman: Arkham Origins is not part of it. Yes, that's right, only Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City have been remastered. Here's why this prequel should have been in the bundle.
It Is Canon to the Arkhamverse
Yes, it was made by a different company, so you can make the argument that maybe it is not canon — but the end of Origins not only directly ties into Arkham Asylum, but stories and characters in Batman: Arkham Knight reference or conclude from it as well. For example, Deathstroke in Arkham Knight wants revenge for Batman beating him on Penguin's ship, the Final Offer, which is a reference to Batman and Deathstroke's encounter in Arkham Origins.
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You also encounter Firefly in Arkham Knight, one of the eight assassins hired by Black Mask in Arkham Origins to kill Batman — and he even references the events of that game as well. With Arkham Origins clearly being canon, it would only be logical to remaster the game along with the two sequels, thus making the franchise feel complete.
It Had the Best Story
All of the Arkham games have had great stories, but Origins had the best one due to the fact they changed things up: the other three Arkham games tried their hardest to make the stories feature a ridiculous(ly awesome) event that could destroy all of Gotham, whereas Arkham Origins toned everything back a bit and made it more like a traditional Batman story: detective work, less powerful enemies and much more of a psychological element for Batman, considering that he's never come across these types of villains before, hence the Origins title.
It also feels more like a plot you'd see from the comics: "Eight assassins after the Batman and it all takes place on Christmas Eve and Christmas." Sure, there is more to the story than that — such as an awesome plot with that Joker (voiced by the great Troy Baker) — that I dare not spoil if you haven't played the game.
Arkham Origins' story is also never boring, whereas with Arkham City there was a good portion towards the middle where I was yawning and checking my watch. And then you had Arkham Knight's story, which was a freaking rollercoaster at times in terms of quality. With Arkham Origins I was enthralled the entire time.
It was also great to see an angry Batman; the other Arkham games featured a much older Batman who had been around, so he never had much reaction to anything, whereas that Batman in Arkham Origins (voiced brilliantly by Roger Craig Smith) is much younger, angrier and rash, thus making his interrogation scenes so much more fun to watch.
It Was Never Hated
While it did receive mixed reviews, there was never much hatred for the game and most of the negative reviews stemmed from the glitches that plagued it at times. All you really had to do was polish the game, remove the bugs, and people would love the remastered version so much more.
I am aware that some critiqued the game for having a very similar combat system to Arkham City, but after closer inspection, I'd say there were enough changes so that it still feels like an Arkham game yet stands on its own. However, if Rocksteady wanted to, maybe they could update the combat for those players.
It Featured Real Detective Work
While it's all nothing but fun to run around beating the crap out of every thug and gangster that you see in Gotham City, let's not forget that Batman is a detective first and foremost — and since this game focuses more on the vigilante side of Batman rather than the superhero he would become, there are quite a few scenes where you are required to investigate crime scenes; you get to see Batman put Sherlock Holmes to shame. (Elementary, my dear Alfred!)
This is a mechanic that was directly ripped and put into Arkham Knight, by the way, thus showing that Rocksteady can get access to the build of Arkham Origins.
It Had the Best Map
One of my biggest problems with Arkham Knight was that the open world we were given was not that interesting; everything looked the same except for the Chinatown portion of the city, and it just felt very small since the developers promised us an "Ultimate Batman Simulator" and only gave us a small part of Gotham City.
Arkham Origins, on the other hand, has a map that is not only beautiful to look at, but is fun to explore with so many easter eggs; the winter setting makes it more appealing for the eyes, and it never feels boring. With Batman limited to just his grapple and the Batwing's predestinations, it understandably wasn't the biggest map, but at least it was a blast to explore, whereas I was bored to death of Arkham Knight's map by the midway point.
Arkham Origin's map also gets credit for redoing the districts from Arkham City in a previous point in time, such as the Bowery and Amusement Mile, making them look lively and adding new areas to explore. The aforementioned Batwing also adds to exploring the map; you can have fun deactivating the jamming signal, which the character Enigma has set up across the city, thus unlocking the predestined waypoints where you can travel fast with the Batwing, a mechanic that Arkham Knight definitely should have brought over.
It Had the BEST. BOSSES. EVAH!
Okay, maybe not the best bosses in video game history, but surely the best ones in the Arkhamverse considering the other games have had nearly all terrible boss fights; the only good ones were the tactical Mr. Freeze fight from Arkham City, the scary encounter with Killer Croc in the sewers of Arkham Asylum and the Scarecrow fights in this realm of fear from Arkham Asylum.
Arkham Origins, however, has a plot that's all about these eight assassins, plus a few more villains, so there are many great boss fights: Firefly on the bridge, the multiple Bane encounters, Copperhead, Deadshot, Mad Hatter and of course the biggest highlight being the Batman vs. Deathstroke battle on the Final Offer, which is nothing but amazing. Honestly, I can recommend this game on the boss fights alone.
Origins should have been remastered and included in the Return to Arkham bundle. Without it, the bundle feels incomplete — and even if it meant ANOTHER delay in the bundle, it would be worth it to play an even better version of Arkham Origins.
Batman: Return to Arkham hits shelves October 21st, 2016.