Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a game developed by Armature Studio and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and is the second Origin game alongside Batman: Arkham Origins. Blackgate was first released on the 3DS and PS Vita in 2013 with the deluxe version being released just recently on April 1st 2014 for the Xbox Live Arcade, PSN and Nintendo eShop, bringing it to home consoles. Does this handheld game keep up with the mainstream consoles, or will the inferior hardware hinder its gameplay aspects?
Set three months after the previous game, Origins, Blackgate follows Batman as enters Blackgate prison to stop an uprising that has been started by The Joker, Penguin and Black Mask, 3 of Batman’s longest running villains. On top of facing these 3 villains this is the first time that Batman has met Catwoman in the Arkham universe, adding in backstory and new tales for the series.
Batman enters Blackgate after Captain Gordan tells him of a mysterious explosion, setting the prisoners free to wreak havoc inside the prison walls, whilst being split into 3 compounds led by 3 different leaders. Batman must go into each compound, make his way through the destroyed prison, take out thugs and incapacitate the leaders, The Joker, Penguin and Black Mask. Though while doing this he must also restore systems to the Arkham Wing, the final part of the prison to rescue the Prison Guard Hostages.
With conspiracies abound, clues to find and hidden secrets you will be stalking around to discover all the secrets of the game, some leading to the previous games in the series that are set after Blackgate and some that tell of the happenings within the Prison itself.
The game can be completed in less than 10 hours if you don’t get lost too much and are not too bothered about all the hidden collectables and upgrades. Though there are 3 endings to be had, so there is some amount of replayability to be found, if only for story value.
If you have played any of the Arkham games in the series, then you would have played this one already as the gameplay is almost exactly the same, if a bit dumbed down in its execution. You melee enemies, use his cape to stun them or counter incoming attacks, all the while staying on a 2D plane, with some movement into the fore and backgrounds to hit grouping up foes. Glide kicks can still be performed from above to knock out unsuspecting thugs as well as silent takedowns from behind, above or below to take out a room without having to throw a punch.
Blackgate is situated in a 2.5D environment, meaning it takes on the 2D perspective whilst still have 3D models and combat, allowing you to move into and out of the foreground to fight but being constrained to the one track whilst exploring. This is a gimmick that doesn’t feel right in this type of game, considering all of the other Arkham games are 3D based and the 2.5D feels too constrictive when you are playing a large game with free movement.
The gadgets are also the same in this game, with the Batarang, Batclaw and Explosive Gel, which can now be used from a distance. The Grapnel gun also makes a return and replaces any jump mechanic that would have been present, while you can still jump gaps if you run at them. Using these gadgets you fight enemies, turn switches and open up new ways to travel between locales, be it blowing up a wall or opening a vent.
The detective mode comes back with a few improvements, though weird as this is set before the other games, allowing you to view enemy’s sightlines. This allows for better stalking whilst in predator rooms as you can plainly see how far the thugs can see and walk into their blind spots for take downs.
Throughout the game you will be running, jumping, climbing and crawling you way across the 3 different compounds and the rooms inside of each, trying to find you way in what seems like an overly convoluted array of passages to reach your destination, only to backtrack as you need a new gadget to pass an immovable obstruction. While the several ways to explore the complexes is nice, they can sometimes be very annoying as you don’t know which way is the way to the end boss or the way out of the building, which is very tiresome when you have gotten a new piece of gear and can proceed in another compound.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
Blackgate follows the same themes and art style of the previous games in the series, but it seems too repetitive as the story is too similar and the setting is so alike with the first Arkham game. Blackgate’s setting as its own game is still pretty boring and tiresome as it feels too constrictive and the three compounds don’t feel too different from one another besides certain points that seem to show a point that the prison was destroyed by the explosion.
In my opinion the 2.5D is unnecessary and just makes the gameplay feel too forced and even rushed in its development as it doesn’t feel as if it suits this game genre. You can’t properly target people on the foreground planes so combat is quite unreliable and tedious when you want to finish a thug off but instead hit his untouched friend and allow him time to recuperate.
The 3DS and PS Vita look and feel hasn’t changed much in the “Deluxe” move to the home consoles as the graphics are slightly sharpened, but on the big screen they still look fuzzy and underwhelming, with colour pallets that look drag and boring with too much desaturation put in place to make the game feel “Edgy”.
Overall I would give Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition a 2/5, it would seem to be a good game on the handheld systems as it is fine for a few hours at a time, but it is simple too under powering for a home console given the power they have over the handheld counterparts. Blackgate still provides hours of fun and adds to the series, but besides that there isn’t much in this release. Fans will like this game, but I wold suggest getting it at a cheaper price or for the handheld versions.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.