Customer Reviews: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - PlayStation Vita
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on November 19, 2013
If this had come out before the Batman Arkham games made people realize that licensed games don't have to be terrible, Blackgate would have been heralded as the new dawn of licensed products. Compared to the average licensed game (and Batman games historically, not counting the Arkham ones), this is a great game. It's a solid 'Metroidvania' side scroller with emphasis on gadgets and exploration with good (if a bit easy) combat. Graphically it is quite good as well, though not up to some of the top tier Vita games. Does a really good job at capturing the 'feel' of the previous Arkham games on the consoles.

The problem is that people have started to expect Arkham City level quality from all Batman games now (see the mediocre reviews of Origin on the consoles as an example of this bias), and Blackgate, like Origin, just can't really live up to Arkham City's towering shadow.

That combined with some issues with the game itself (slightly buggy and a pretty terrible map) gave people the impression that it wasn't a very good game. A shame really, because any Vita owner who likes Batman games will almost certainly find something to enjoy about this game. Keep expectations tempered, and you'll find a thoroughly enjoyable 8-10 hour Batman beat-em-up.
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on November 13, 2013
There isn't much I can add to the technical side of things that hasn't already been covered sufficiently in other reviews, but having just completed my first run-through on Arkham Blackgate to 100% I thought it was a lot of fun and wanted to throw out one more five-star rating.

Admittedly this game won't be for everybody; its emphasis is definitely on the "explore, search and find" puzzle-solving angle rather than epic battles or gun fights, but as a more casual gamer that's exactly the kind of thing I personally enjoy most. Not that there isn't some hand to hand combat with the typical array of thugs and goons, but they are few and far between and even then you very rarely encounter more than a couple at any one time. They somewhat tried to emulate the combat of the bigger Arkham games made on the consoles, but it's on such a small scale that these instances are pretty much over and done before you really have an opportunity to get too fancy. Still, it works well for what it is and isn't supposed to be the focal point of the game anyway. I thought the boss fights were cleverly done without being overly tedious, and I was happy to see Catwoman play a major role since she's always been one of my favorite Batman rogues. (Don't worry, I'm not spoiling anything. She's literally the first thing you see when you start up the game.) It seems opinions are mixed on the graphics, though I think they look pretty snazzy, and are actually fairly fluid for a handheld. If I absolutely had to make a complaint it would be that the in-game maps can be confusing, since they only have flat, one dimensional layouts representing buildings with multiple levels which can lead to some unnecessary running around in circles, but trial and error will eventually pay off.

At the end of the day this isn't the kind of game that will leave you breathless - I'll never forget the high I was on after finding all 440 Riddler Trophies in Arkham City, lol - but it does lend itself a certain sense of accomplishment and I look forward to playing it again. In fact, since you can choose in what order you tackle the three main subplots of the game, you'll have to play through at least three times anyway just to see all possible outcomes, not to mention all the gadgets, upgrades, detective clues, and alternate costumes to unlock. Like I said above, I'm a pretty casual gamer and very seldom buy new games upon their release. (In fact I think this might be only the third game I've bought for my Vita, period, lol.) But if someone like me can rant and rave over it, then it's very likely most other people should be able to, as well.
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on October 28, 2013
I contemplated giving this review 4 stars just to lower expectations a little bit, but the truth is I played this game probably 6 hours this weekend after opening it when I got home on Friday. This is a MUST-OWN for any Vita owner. If you liked the Scarecrow levels in Arkham Asylum then this game is for you, because it works in a very similar way except that you guide your experience much more than you could in the Scarecrow levels.

What impresses me the most about this game is the way Armature transformed the side-scroller and gave it so much depth. There are a lot of "Wow, I can do this too??" moments throughout the game as the gameplay gets deeper and deeper. The combat is great as you would expect from the Arkham series. Maybe not as silky smooth as the PS3 version but not far off.

The story is good so far (like I said, I'm just 6 hours in) and the motion comic cutscenes are really charming.

The only gripe I could possibly throw out is that this game was obviously made to run on both the 3DS and the Vita, which can only hurt the Vita version. You hardly ever use the right stick (because the 3DS doesn't have one) and the touchscreen implementation is sometimes not used when you would expect it like on the map (because the 3DS uses capacitive touch and pinching to zoom in and out on that would be problematic).

So outside of the Vita being a far superior system than the only other one that this game was released on, I love this game. I really think the Vita has the chops to run a game like Arkham Asylum but I'm grateful this game exists and I've had a lot of fun playing it.
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VINE VOICEon January 7, 2014
The Short Form:
While it might be easy to cut Arkham Origins: Blackgate some slack for being on a limited hardware platform, other games do a better job of the "2.5D" style. Blackgate tries to be faithful to the spirit and gameplay of the Arkham games but ultimately has too many gameplay problems to make it a worthy entry in the series.

The Full Review:
As a fan of the Arkham series of games, I was excited at the idea of a game that ties the Arkham Origins prequel to the Arkham Asylum storyline. The idea was that Arkham Origins: Blackgate would explain the story behind the fire at Blackgate prison and capture of The Joker that begin the game Arkham Asylum. The way this game plays is called "2.5D" - it's a side-scrolling game with a bit of depth to it and there are times when you move to another part of the room and the camera swings around with you so that your point of view is still from the side--this is similar to the later "Castlevania" games. The graphics really do rival the console games, but the nature of 2.5D is problematic on the Vita: sometimes you're not sure if you can get to a location you can see on the screen, and sometimes when Batman moves to a spot that's further back, you're controlling a tiny, hard-to-see Batman and can't easily tell what you're doing, or even which direction you're facing. There are also places where you have to scoot around to find the magic pixel that lets you continue forward. Worse, there are times you want to sneak up on the enemy, and the environment would easily let you do so, but you can't enter the room without dropping into the middle of the action and giving yourself away. Last, being able to follow the map is extremely difficult since different parts of the level shift your perspective around--I often found myself going the wrong way, turning around...and still going the wrong way.

The Vita hardware is used cleverly, but it can get tedious. It's a great idea that you can tap the screen to engage Detective Mode, and it's neat that holding your finger on the touchscreen gives you a magnified 'scan' ability to look over items while you're in Detective Mode. But the gameplay is so in love with this idea that you find yourself having to scan just about everything in every room. For example, you can see exploding traps clearly in front of you, but you can't hit them with a batarang until you enter Detective Mode and scan them in Detective Mode. Every time. You can pull down loose debris blocking a doorway, but only after you use a slow scan in Detective Mode to confirm it...and even then, sometimes it's pulled down with the batclaw, sometimes with a batarang--you have to experiment to figure out which is which.

Combat flows similarly to the other Arkham games, but it's much harder to work. Using Cape Stun is much slower and you need to be closer to the enemies. Blocking and countering are less likely to succeed because at times you might accidentally start interacting with the environment, or simply be facing the wrong way. Throwing a Quick Batarang may or may not work. While you have a variety of moves that increases as you find gadgets, it can be frustrating when a boss battle only has one way through it, with a very specific sequence of moves, each of which has to be executed perfectly. I really enjoyed the difficult challenge of battling Deathstroke in Arkham: Origins; I really hated the linear 'dance steps' of battling Bronze Tiger in Arkham Origins: Blackgate.

Cutscenes are mostly shown via minimally-animated gray comic panels. Some are rendered in-game instead. Most have some interesting ideas, just some awkward dialog. It's annoying to watch a cutscene, be told to go to the Lighthouse, exit the level, get a cutscene en route to the Lighthouse, get about 100 feet into the Lighthouse map, and be told you need to turn around and go back to the island to complete another section of the map (cue cutscene), then come back and try again.

While it's a shame that Mark Hamill is no longer voicing The Joker, in a way it's a bit of a blessing because he doesn't have to read the painfully bad dialogue in Arkham Origins: Blackgate ("I'd love to say it's been a gas, but it hasn't. THIS is a gas!" *lets gas into the room*). The idea in other Arkham games that finding clues and hearing dialog adds to the story is explored here, but it lacks a feeling of being relevant--where Arkham Asylum's Patient Interviews gave you some background to the characters and their story, items like "Burnt paper pieces in the trash" don't really tie the story together. When you come across "the safety cap for a nozzle to a gas canister, used for transport," it might be relevant that you also find, "It contains traces of Joker gas"...except that by this point you've already encountered Joker gas and this does nothing to change that or advance the story. It's like finding out that the Joker prefers Coke to Pepsi and uses a blue ballpoint pen when he signs his name--a pointless explanation for hunting trinkets.

Overall, if you're a fan of the Arkham games, if you can lower your expectations you might find some of Arkham Origins: Blackgate to be fun. The "kinda side-scrolling, kinda 3D" effects make gameplay more frustrating than a game like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and the storyline doesn't measure up to the other games, but it can still be an okay diversion when you want something different to do in the Arkham story.
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on November 16, 2013
I am a hardcore Batman fan so I purchased this game at launch. It starts out great but after a hour or so, I realized I had no idea where to go. The games map does not accurately tell you were you are in relation to your environment. After 2o minutes of backtracking I triggered a cut-scene and continued to progress through the story. This occurred at least 5 more times till I broke down and google a faq. Even with all this backtracking and exploring due to poor level design I found myself looking forward to playing it in small chunks. I do recommend it for Batman fans but not for metroidvania fans because it will disappoint.

Pros: Continues Origins story, combat plays like console and cut-scenes were different from other arkham games.

Cons: Poor map and backtracking.
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on March 18, 2014
I was pretty excited for this game. I'm a big fan of the other Batman: Arkham games. This one just doesn't measure up. Combat is overly simple. I never felt the need to go beyond basic punch, counter combos with the occasional cape sweep on those few enemies the required it. While in the other Arkham games, you'll beat up hordes of enemies, there really are not that many fights in this one. There are not that many stealth portions either. And if you flub most of them up, you can just punch your way out. No puzzles really either. It's all quite straight forward. The game is pretty short at 8-10 hours. In order to 100% the game, you must beat it 3 times.

There are some redeeming qualities. The game is fun to play, and because it's short, you don't really get too bored with the combat. The boss battles are quite well done for the most part. The game looks pretty decent on the vita.

The story has some good elements to it, but really its not very substantial. Those that know something about the DCU will see the story well ahead and know what is going on (except possibly for the small "twist" in the arkham wing), but those that don't know the DCU still won't know what's going on at the end and the story will feel really hollow to them. The short story here is really just a setup for a future game, and it definitely feels that way.

So all in all, its ok. Just ok. Probably worth $10-15. I would have been pretty upset buying it for full price at launch though.
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on October 14, 2014
I got this game for $9.99 and honestly did not have high expectations for it.

I was very surprised to find it is a very fun game with quite a bit of exploration and challenge. It takes a while to get used to the map, but once you do, running around is fun (and there are collectibles to find as you explore which keeps it interesting).

The boss fights are blah - simple patterns, etc. The final boss fight is irritatingly a Quick Time Event and if you even slightly mistime or mishit a button, you start over. That was my only real frustration with the game.

Overall - if you can get this for $15.99 or less, I would recommend it. One of the better experiences I've had on Vita.
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on March 2, 2014
My grandson told me to write "because its an awesome game and you get to fight every bad guy and thats cool". Lol. Thats his review. He's 7.
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on October 31, 2013
after playing the first arkham i was hooked with the combat mode. they took batman from the pages in your hand and from your cartoon put it in your hands. the 2.5D game is a blast. the combat is good and fun the cut scenes have the classic batman issue to issue vibe. simple side scrolling fun very reminisce to Super Metroid.
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VINE VOICEon October 25, 2013
I've found this game to be a lot of fun. It reminds me a bit of Metroid or Castlevania, except that you're Batman, and you get to fight some of the villains from the series. It's also a nice complement to Arkham Origins, continuing the story while also introducing Catwoman's first encounter with Batman. If you like the arkham series, I highly recommend picking this game up to continue the experience.
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