Just announced a few months ago, it was a rather pleasant surprise to see Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate featured at Nintendo’s and Sony’s GameStop Expo booth.
Developed by Armature, the game is a 2.5D action game built from the ground up to be a companion title to the upcoming release of Batman: Arkham Origins. Not much is known about the plot yet, but what we do know is that it takes place shortly after the end of Arkham Origins during a prison uprising at Blackgate. In the demo we were introduced to Catwoman, who unfortunately has quite an annoying voice… not exactly the sexy sound of the Michelle Pfeiffers, Anne Hathaways, or even Halle Berrys we’ve all been spoiled with.
The playable level featured rainy rooftops that the Caped Crusader has to stealthily navigate. Since the game is primarily a sidescroller, nothing about this was difficult. Aside from automatically climbing ledges by holding right on the control pad and using the right shoulder button to grapple his way to higher ground, combat was also quite plentiful.
The developers did a fairly good job with the combat system, nearly mirroring that of the console versions of Arkham games. In addition to the traditional “face your opponent and tap B (or square on the Vita) to attack” kind of gig, Batman can also counter enemy attacks using the X (or triangle on the Vita) button and continue to unleash havoc.
Detective Mode also makes its return to the game simply by tapping on an area in the touchscreen. Detective Mode is used mainly for puzzling instances. There was a point in the game where we could no longer move to the right, but it was because of a removable grate we didn’t notice beforehand. You can also check if enemies are armed using the touchscreen features.
Gliding kicks also make their appearance in Blackgate, and that’s where the demo started to run into problems. This particular part in the game required the player to successfully knock out armed enemies by glidekicking them and then scurrying away with the help of Batman’s grappling hook. But since the game isn’t necessarily in full 3D, it got rather difficult to find the right time to attack, leading us to see Batman get gunned down more than a few times.
As of right now, Blackgate is on the right track of giving portable gamers a taste of the usually superb Batman games, but it feels too much like an unpolished downloadable title (definitely not worth the commercial MSRP yet). It might be a hardware audio issue, but the sound is unimpressive and from what’s been played, the sidescrolling gameplay is a lot more tedious than it should be. Of course, it was only one level, so we can only hope for improvement when the game comes out on October 25 for both the 3DS and Vita.