Batman: Arkham Origins / by Benjamin Sawyer

The Batman Arkham series has estabilished itself as one of the (if not just THE) best licensed games ever created. This fall Warner Brothers released Arkham Origins, a game that takes place on Christmas Eve, and is one of Batman's first nights fighting major organized crime. The title sports a cast full of fresh faces to the Batman universe, with the voice of Ezio Auditore (Roger Craig Smith) portraying a younger, less publicly accepted Bruce Wayne, and Bioshock Infinite's Booker Dewitt (Troy Baker) as a younger Joker.

Overall the voice acting in this game is fantastic. Baker's joker is vile and sinister, and actually quite faithful to Mark Hamill's Clown Prince. At the same time Smith's younger, less seasoned Bruce is spot on, gravelly in the places it needs to be and brooding with vengeful anger.

The game pits the Caped Crusader against a rogues gallery of the most lethal assasins the DC universe has to offer, all hired by the mob boss Black Mask. Fans get to see the likes of Killer Croc, Deadshot, the Electrocutioner, Bane, and Firefly. The best part of the story however rests not in the Bats dealings with these professional killers but the development of his relationship with the Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. The two have never met before this game, so each encounter brings with it new insight into each titanic figure's view of the other.

While I wouldn't put this installment anywhere near the masterpiece that was Arkham City (seriously, if you haven't played it...), Arkham Origins is a solid experience for anyone who truly loves the Dark Knight. The combat is fresh despite using the same engine, the dialogue is engaging, and the character construction is genuinely emotional. Hearing Alfred lay into his young master pulls on the  heart strings more than I would have expected.

I encourage every fan of Batman to get their hands on this title. It may not be game of the year quality but it is definitely worth your time.

8 bits out of 10