'Blackgate' dissappointing to fans
Since its creation the "Batman: Arkham" series has been an incredible fusion of comic books and video games. "Arkham Asylum" was the first game to really make the player feel like the Batman. "Arkham City" only improved that feeling by showing us an incredible Gotham City filled with hours of exploration and fan secrets. "Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate" unfortunately does not improve upon these mechanics, and in fact abandons a lot of what made the series so loved. "Blackgate" is a prequel to the series, and while it is to be expected that Batman himself would be rough around the edges, that the entire world is less than its predecessors, is disappointing.
One of the best parts of the "Arkham" series is its combat system. As Batman, the player can dance around a group of thugs beating them down with his own fists, counters, and any one of his gadgets in single fluid motion. "Blackgate" kept this system intact and it works really well. Other than new gadgets and enemies to fight, the combat stayed the same. There are some boss battles though that require a keener eye than just waiting for the counter button to show up on screen. For these battles, you'll most likely resort to repetitive strategies just to get through the encounter.
Of course being the Batman is more than just powerful punches. He is stealthy. The past games knew this too, often having boss battles completely about stealth, but "Blackgate" put significantly less effort into this. Sneaking around and slowly taking out guards is much more difficult now, as well as much less rewarding. Taking out one thug leads to every other thug immediately knowing where you are. There's no room for strategy, and being sneaky is just another step towards beating thugs up instead of an alternative. The same can be said for the clue-hunting mechanic. In past games, this was actually something the player partook in. Now clue hunting is just an excuse to hold a button that shows off Batman's intelligence.
What "Arkham Origins" is missing the most, however, is the fan service. The past games showed off Batman knowledge and lore in a way that made exploration fun. They were stuffed with shout outs that respected the Batman comic book history and the fans that read them. "Blackgate" has almost completely ripped that out of the series. Riddler trophies and Gotham themed riddles have been replaced by meaningless Riddler data banks. Every mention of characters not in the game are gone. Extra crimes and villains are barely present because the game is too story focused. There is no reason to explore the expanded city of Gotham because there is nothing to find.
It is still cool to beat up thugs, but that is all this game has. "Blackgate" feels less like a prequel and more like the first game of the series that was never released, and for good reason.
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