Batman Arkham Origins E3 hands on – is a new detective mode enought to hold off sequel fatigue?

batman Arkham Origins e3 screens

[Update: see all the Batman Arkham Origins E3 screens here.]

Batman’s a weird one. Having jumped into an unspecified part of the game as part of my E3 demo I could have been playing Arkham City. It didn’t look any better and at its core the combat seemed nigh on identical. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing because the fighting in the Arkham games is brilliant. But it was really very, very similar.

Batman Arkham Origins E3 hands on

That was until I performed one of the new crime scene investigations, which does set it apart slightly. These are more involved than previous games and see you recreating a virtual reality recreation of events. In this case I started on a rooftop where a helicopter had gone down and crashed. Using detective mode at street level you can scan for evidence and, as you do, a timeline builds at the top of the screen. Collecting evidence fills the timeline and you can then use the shoulder buttons to replay a virtual recreation of whatever’s happened, recreated in detective mode’s wireframe art style.

Batman Arkham Origins E3 hands on. Subscribe for more PS3 & PS4 videos.

So investigating the crime sees you scanning the wreckage, replaying a chunk of timeline which then tells you/Batman that something happened to the helicopter when it was on the roof. This then lets you move to a new crime scene where you can then scan the next bit of evidence, fill the next chunk of timeline and see where to go next. That leads to the discovery that a policeman had apparently shot and hit the tail of the helicopter. In turn that then leads you along the path of the bullet to where the policeman was standing. Further investigation then reveals that it wasn’t the policeman but rather a ricocheted bullet that killed the him first before striking the chopper. Finally, you discover the doubly deadly trick shot was actually the work of Deadshot, with Batman casually grunting, “I’ll investigate this later”. Slacker.

batman arkham origins e3 screensAs well as the new crime scene investigation system I also got to play with one of the new gadgets: the remote bat-claw. This double-ended grappley thing lets you string two things together. It’s actually pretty fun, letting you knock two guys into each other, stun them and then swoop down to finish them off. One thing it does do that’s really good is enable you to attach one end to a guy and one end to a gargoyle. You can be on one side of the room, fire your bat-claw at a gargoyle on the other side and then at a goon and it’ll string him up. It means you can get through rooms faster than in the old games. So whereas before it was quite difficult to takedown a room full of guys properly because it would take ages waiting for them to be underneath, this new gadget now means you don’t have to, ahem, hang about.

Aside from the new detective
modes and Batclaw this plays
exactly the same as the old games

Aside from the new detective modes and Batclaw this plays exactly the same as the old games. You’re up on gargoyles trying to be stealthy because the bad guys have guns. If you get seen then drop a smoke pellet and fly around a bit – it’s a tried and tested formula. My hands on didn’t let me see the massive world Warner Brothers is promising, and both graphically, and in terms of the art-style or architecture, it looks nigh-on identical. Bats has got a slightly different costume but other than that it almost looks like DLC. It means that this more like a half-way, 2.5 sequel than a full on number 3. As I said that’s in no way a bad thing given the quality of the source material but it’s not innovating on a massive scale, that’s for sure.