Batman: Arkham Origins Review

By , on October 21, 2013
Last modified 6 years, 9 months ago

Batman: Arkham Origins
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • Looks great.
  • Lots of skills and suits to upgrade.
  • Alternative stance and special attacks add a layer of strategy.


  • Combat becomes repetitious.
  • Freemium energy system locks you out far too often.
  • Upgrades and costumes are cynically overpriced.


A slightly more nuanced fighter than you might expect, Batman: Arkham Origins has its wing clipped by repetitious combat and a restrictive energy system.

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The Batman found in NetherRealm's latest iOS brawler Batman: Arkham Origins is not the Batman with which you might be familiar. Sure, he's got his flying fists of vengeance, and a utility belt packed with batarangs and gadgets. And yes, he dishes out violent justice to a neverending procession of Gotham's most sociopathic.

However, this Batman has limits - limits placed upon him by Arkham Origin's freemium structure. Unlike the driven, relentless crime fighter depicted in DC's comics and the campy '60s TV series, this incarnation of the Caped Crusader punches a few goons in the face, and then needs to have a little lie down before he can muster the energy to try again.

Things start off okay. To fight, you repeatedly tap the screen to dish out punch-based combos. Chain a few blows together and swipe prompts will appear, allowing you kick your foes into submission. Hold two fingers on the screen, and Batman will enter a blocking stance.

As you progress through the missions, you will unlock special attacks and perks. Soon you'll be able to heal mid-fight, deliver more powerful kicks and punches, and summon a horde of bats to disorientate your foes. The basic combat formula gets repetitive pretty quickly, but the special attacks and alternative combat stance add a tactical layer to each bout. It also looks the part, with the Unreal Engine doing a fine job of rendering Batman's detailed suits and brutal attacks.

It won't be long, however, before your stamina points run out. When this happens, you can either wait for the points to recharge (10 minutes per bar) or spend Waynetech Points to fill up your energy meter. Given the frugality with which these points are dished out, you'll inevitably reach a time when you have spend real cash if you want to continue without interruption.

In fact, every aspect of the game's upgrade system is engineered towards extracting coins from your pocket. Every costume, stance, attack, and special power can be upgraded usings the game's other currency, Upgrade Points. Though these are easier to come by than Waynetech Points, the ridiculous price of some of the costumes - and increasing cost of the upgrades - put them behind a wall of grind that will take days to batter down. Of course, Upgrade Points can also be bought with in-app purchases. You can see where this is going.

Arkham Origins does deliver moments of satisfaction, but they're interspersed between repetitious goon smackdowns and forced downtime. Things liven-up when a real baddie shows his masked mush, but Batman's "give me ten minutes and we'll try again" approach to combat strikes us as particularly un-Batman. We can almost hear Bane's voice ringing out in the background: "When your wallet is ashes, you have my permission to die."


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Jastootie 6 years, 9 months ago

I totally agree with you Djrella659. I'm hating this trend. Death to the freemium model. If you make a good enough game, people will pay for it. I'd love to see the return of free to play demos, where you can pay for the whole game with ONE IAP. I think that's a true test of the quality of a game.

TheAspieFox 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm slowly losing faith in the iOS market with the plethora of Freemium titles that are designed and aimed towards sucking at our wallets...

I seriously miss the days of having high-end games at a single premium price, and being able to enjoy the game in its entirety.

Hell, with announcement of the LEGO Star Wars coming, I fear that they'll be ridiculous IAPs to unlock characters/cheats("Extras") that would otherwise be unlockable just by simply playing the game and earning said characters/cheats by collecting the minikits and red bricks.... ;-;

I REALLY hope this wont be the case...

DarkScience 6 years, 9 months ago

I Hear u Djrella659, that would be one way to spoil a great game. Personally I am holding out tonnes of hope for the apple event today for the release of the gamecase, to get the platform back on track. I believe (hope) that this will open the doors to big game developers that would normally avoid IOS for control issues, selling expensive games with full content more like a console title. With dual stick controls and touch screen there are really no limits on what kinds of games could work on IOS!

I notice the gamecase web site recently changed completely removing all renders of its planned system replacing with just a picture of a space ship. I am wondering if they have been overhauling the site ready for launch.

Lets see what happens!!