(Note: This independent review is my personal opinion. All screenshots were capture in-game on my PS Vita handheld system.)
Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate is a 2.5D ‘side scrolling’-style adventure game developed by Armature Studio and published by Warner Bros. Interactive.. The game is also available for the Nintendo 3DS/2DS systems.
Set after the events of Batman Arkham Origins, Blackgate follows a less experienced Batman on his one-man war on crime. After an encounter with Catwoman, Batman is called in to deal with a hostage situation in Blackgate prison. Three supervillians, Penguin, Black Mask and the Joker, have taken over their own section of the prison using prisoners loyal to them. With the help of Catwoman, Batman must rescue the hostages and wrest control of the prison from the inmates.
The game’s story is told through animated comic panels and voice acting. Batman is voiced by Roger Craig Smith who mimics Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice, but still sounding a bit younger. Other voices seem to fit well, with Grey DeLisle reprising her role as Catwoman and Nolan North as Penguin.
The gameplay is in a third-person 2.5D game similar to the side scrolling Castlevania games. Batman can move from the foreground to the background and vice versa at certain points such as door ways or air ducts and can move up and down the screen via grappling hooks and gliding. Combat is done similar to the style found in the main Arkham series, with an attack, dodge, counter and stun button. Enemies vary with what weapons they have, suck as baseball bats, knifes and stun rods. Enemies with guns are harder to beat and require you to hide and stealthily take them out one by one. Boss fights either require manipulating your environment or timing your counters to create an opening. The game takes advantage of the PS Vita’s touch screen by letting you activate Detective Mode by touching the screen and any objects of interest. I assume the 3DS version uses a similar approach with its touch screen.
Graphically the game is good for the PS Vita. The game is dark, like it’s home system counterparts but the environments are well done. A lot of the game involves going through a darkened prison to restore power so you use the Detective mode a lot. The major problem is that you are stuck with a wide camera view of the action. Sometimes your character looks small on the screen and you can sometimes lose track of where you are. The camera is also a hindrance to trying to avoid machine gun-armed tugs, as sometimes you can see item, but they see you off-screen. You also spend a lot of time back tracking and it is easy to miss a switch or a weak wall that you can blast through to get to your objective.
Once you get used to it, though, it can be a fun game. It gave me my Batman fix over the weekend as I wait for my Collectors Edition of Batman Arkham Origins to arrive from Amazon (which they sent late.) It is a good way to get your Batman fix on the go.
Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate retails for $39.99 at most store and is rated T for Teen.
My rating 3/5