Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a 2013 side-scrolling video game developed by Armature Studio and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita handheld game consoles. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it is a companion to the 2013 video game Batman: Arkham Origins, and is part of the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide on October 25, 2013, with the Nintendo 3DS version releasing in Europe on November 8, 2013. The game was released in Japan on December 5, 2013, same date as Arkham Origins for home consoles, exclusively for the PlayStation Vita.
|Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate|
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, beat 'em up, stealth, Metroidvania|
Set three months after the events of Arkham Origins, the game's story sees Batman attempting to stop a large prison riot at the Blackate Penitentiary, now under the control of Gotham City's most notorious crime bosses: the Penguin, Black Mask, and the Joker; it also features Batman's first encounter with Catwoman. A deluxe edition of the game was announced and released for the Wii U eShop, PlayStation Network, Microsoft Windows and Xbox Live Arcade on April 1, 2014 in North America and April 2, 2014 in Europe. It features new maps, enemy encounters, difficulty levels, batsuits, and enhanced visuals from the original.
Armature looked through the back log of the previous Arkham games to see what features would work for Origins Blackgate. The developer took many features from the main console games, such as grappling, gliding, crouching and climbing, and were able to implement them in the 2.5D space, while supplementing them with gadgets that include: the Batarang, a throwing weapon; the Batclaw, used for hooking on to surfaces; and Explosive Gel that can now be shot over a distance. As Batman cannot jump in the game, the grapnel gun is used to access higher points in the environment. The game does not feature an experience point system, with the entire game being item-based.
The free-flow combat system that is present in the other Arkham games has been built from the ground up. Batman still moves from left to right, but has the ability to be in the foreground or the background. Director Mark Pacini added that they've included a few more layers to the predator/detective mode. Players are able to see the sightlines of the enemies, which immediately allows to know whether Batman can be seen or not by enemies. When Batman is in detective mode, Batman changes color based on their proximity or based on how close he is to being seen. Vantage points, floor grates, silent takedowns, glide kicks, weapon use, and breakable walls return from the console games as well.
Origins Blackgate offers side missions which help the player to piece together the events that lead to the explosion which caused the mass breakout. The level design allows the player to face the bosses of the game in any order, at any time. As such, the game features multiple endings, based on which boss the player faced last. The game also features different suits for Batman, each with their own attributes, that are made available based on the order the game is played.
Origins Blackgate features a variety of characters from the history of Batman comics. The main character is Batman (Roger Craig Smith), a superhero trained to the peak of human physical perfection and an expert in martial arts. He is informed by GCPD Captain James Gordon (Michael Gough) on the events that have transpired at Blackgate Penitentiary. Origins Blackgate brings Batman into conflict with the psychopathic Joker (Troy Baker), the Napoleonic weapons dealer Penguin (Nolan North), and the sadistic, brutal crime lord Black Mask (Brian Bloom). Batman also has altercations with the seductive Catwoman (Grey DeLisle), the expert-marksman Deadshot, prison fights champion Bronze Tiger, and the monstrous zombie Solomon Grundy. Warden Martin Joseph (Khary Payton), Bane, Amanda Waller (C. C. H. Pounder) and Captain Rick Flag also make appearances in the game.
Three months after the events of Arkham Origins, a mysterious explosion at Blackgate Prison allows the inmates to escape, resulting in a massive riot. The Joker, Penguin and Black Mask manage to each gather enough henchmen in order to take over their own section of the prison. After being informed that Blackgate has been separated into three sections: the Cell Block, the Industrial Area, and the Administration Offices, Batman goes to investigate and defeat the three crime bosse, though he quickly learns that there is more to this than your average uprising. Batman also meets Catwoman and others for the first time, and begins to forge a partnership with a young Captain James Gordon.
While patrolling Gotham one night, Batman spots Catwoman stealing from a governmental building and gives chase, eventually catching her and taking her to Blackgate, fighting several Department of Extranormal Operations agents who had mistaken him for Catwoman's accomplice along the way. Two weeks later, Captain James Gordon contacts Batman for help on a prison riot at Blackgate, which was made possible by a mysterious explosion; the inmates have taken numerous hostages, and the prison has been divided into three main territories, each one held by the Joker, Penguin and Black Mask. Upon entering the prison, Batman encounters Catwoman, who informs him of hostages held inside the maximum security area of the prison, known as the Arkham Wing. At this point, Batman may choose to go after any of the three crime bosses; before leaveing, Catwoman also informs him that Joker has cut the air supply to the wing, leaving the hostages with minimal air.
On his way to the Joker, Batman encounters Warden Martin Joseph, whose office has been rigged with bombs. While attempting to free Joseph, Batman is attacked by Deadshot, who has been hired separately by all three crime bosses to kill him. After defeating Deadshot, Batman rescues Joseph, who informs that the Joker in his office. Batman ultimately defeats the Joker, while acquiring the codes needed to shut down the gas set to release on the hostages. Before leaving, however, he notices that he air supply was not cut as Catwoman had stated. On his way to Penguin, Batman again encounters Catwoman, who informs him of a fighting contest hosted by Penguin. There, Batman is forced to battle Penguin's champion Bronze Tiger, who is reluctant to fight at first. After Bronze Tiger is defeated, Penguin's men attack Batman, but he is saved by Bronze Tiger, who holds them off long enough for Batman to pursue a fleeing Penguin, ultimately defeating him. On his way to Black Mask, Batman learns that he is attempting to overload Blackgate's power generators and cause a chain reaction that will destroy his rivals. Making his way through the sewers, Batman encounters Solomon Groundy, whom he defeats, before finally confronting Black Mask and knockin him unconscious, thwarting his plan.
After the Joker, Penguin and Black Mask are all defeated, Batman is able to enter the Arkham Wing where the hostages are being held. Once there, however, he finds only a weakened Bane, before Catwoman appears and reveals that she lied about the hostages so that Batman would help her reach Bane, whom she was hired to recover all along. Catwoman then attempts to flee, but Batman pursues her to the docks and defeats her. Before he can learn her employer's identity, a SWAT team led by Captain Rick Flag arrives to arrest her. As they leave with her, Batman flies off into the night, questioning the team's actions.
The ending of the game depends on which boss was defeated last: Joker is found by several Blackgate guards, whom he presumambly kills before taking one of their uniforms and fleeing the scene; Penguin, who is revealed to be running his illegal operations from inside the prison, is freed by a corrupt prison guard whom he bribes and then kills with his umbrella for his rudeness toward him, before leaving the scene; Black Mask, still unconscious, is also found by some Blackgate guards, before awakening and taking one of them hostage, while demanding the Joker handed over to him, though he flees the scene after one of the guards fires at him and misses, hitting a pipeline that explodes in Black Mask's face, causing him to scream in pain.
Throughout the game, Amanda Waller is seen monitoring the events of the breakout along with Rick Flag. In a post-credits scene, it is revealed that Waller was the one who hired Catwoman to break Bane out of Blackgate. Per Waller's orders, Catwoman was released, but she did not complete her main mission, and Flag's team had to return Bane to custody. It is then shown that Waller has picked up Deadshot and Bronze Tiger following the riot, remarking that she sees their potential as soldiers, as opposed to degenerates, intending to have them join her squad. As her helicopter flies away from Blackgate, one of Batman's trackers is seen on its underbelly.
The game was first revealed on the cover of the May 2013 issue of Game Informer magazine, revealed on April 9, 2013. Director Mark Pacini revealed that the game has been in development since early 2012. Many of the production team came over from Retro Studios, which developed the Metroid Prime series. Origins Blackgate has a similar feel and construction to those games. None of the console-game technology is being used for the game, with everything being done by Armature from scratch. The game uses a checkpoint system to save, as well as have the ability to save anywhere at any time. All of the 2D animations were done in house at Armature and are fully voiced. While set after the events of Arkham Origins, Armature Studio worked closely with WB Games Montréal to allow the games to be played in any order and not spoil any of the material from either game. The story of Origins Blackgate is written by Adam Beechen.
Armature's technical director, Jack Mathews, has stated that neither of the two versions is a port of the other, with the graphics as the only difference between the two platforms. Matthews further stated that Armature has custom tools to help generate ideally sized models and textures for each platform from a common source, and that the 3DS version would run at 30fps in 3D.
Cutscenes look like hand-drawn comics, while voice acting is included. The game adds dynamic camera angles to help give a better sense of scope in the 2D plane. For example, the camera can zoom in over Batman's shoulder as he is on a zipline or swoop up to a top-down vantage point when on a gargoyle for an inverted takedown. By linking the game to Arkham Origins on the PlayStation 3, a skin based on Beware the Batman becomes available.
Reviewers were polarized over the transition of the home console game to portable devices. Polygon and IGN said that Arkham Origins Blackgate successfully distilled the gameplay mechanics of Arkham Origins. However, others said that the game came across as sloppy and unfinished while doing nothing to advance the series or its characters.
Reception of the game's prison setting was generally negative. Reviewers criticized the level designs as repetitive, dark, and sparse outside of areas decorated by the Joker, and several critics noted a difficulty in navigating the facility due to poorly highlighted avenues of travel such as destructible walls that can not be viewed at all outside of the game's scanning mode. Game Informer noted that even when an interactive element is obvious, it cannot be used until the player spends several seconds highlighting and scanning it, a process they found inconvenient. Conversely, Polygon said the game world featured impressive and expansive levels, and appreciated the various unlockable avenues of exploration hiding secret items. Several reviewers were critical of necessary backtracking through previously explored areas, calling them boring and citing a lack of regenerating enemies as a problem, leaving cleared areas permanently empty. GameSpot took issue with the difficulty of navigating some areas due to the game's 2.5D viewpoint that involves the player normally moving left or right, but periodically entering vents or doors in the background of levels, creating constantly shifting perspectives. Navigating the levels was noted as a point of difficulty, with the in-game map failing to clearly define the player's location, sometimes making it appear that Batman is in a room he needs to be, when he is in fact multiple levels above or below it.
The series' familiar combat was considered to have been effectively streamlined while retaining the console versions fluid, simple and satisfying movement with effective striking and countering. Some reviewers considered the transition to be less successful, lacking the same intensity and making enemies easier to defeat, preventing the same kinetic bouncing between enemies of the console games. Controlling Batman during combat was noted to be less precise and responsive, and the 2.5D perspective would see Batman often target the closest, rather than intended, enemy across multiple planes, preventing effective combat strategies as more varied enemies begin to appear.
Polygon said that the boss fights were imaginative, while Game Informer said they were the best part of Arkham Origins Blackgate, utilizing specific traits of each villain in their attacks, and strategies for defeating them. IGN noted the novelty of the game featuring bosses that had not appeared in the other Arkham games, but considered the fights to be simplified and heavily reliant on button prompts. However, reviewers also found the fights frustrating, poorly explained, and punitive, featuring attacks that can instantly kill Batman, requiring lengthy loading times to place the player at an earlier point in the game, then requiring some backtracking before the fight can again be attempted.
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