At first, like many, I was somewhat dubious of an Arkham
sequel without series creator Rocksteady on board as developer. I was also
unsure as to what another open-world Batman game, set partly in the same city
map as Arkham City, could possibly add to the series
without the original developer at the helm. Coming so late in the console
generation, I feared that it was to be a quickie sequel, thrown out to squeeze
a bit more cash from the franchise while Rocksteady worked on something new for
But then I met new developer Warner Bros. Montreal, a month
or so ago, and by the Old Gods, did they set my mind at rest. While the game
still didn’t look to greatly innovative over the existing series, the effort
that the Canadian studio was putting into telling a very different, much darker
story made me a very happy bat-nerd indeed. So it was with a fair degree of
contentment that I settled down with Arkham Origins just before the weekend.
That contentment lasted all of 24 hours.
Those first 24? Pretty great, as it happens. Yes, I found
the game overly familiar, in that frustrating, can’t-really-complain-about-it
way that comes when something is too similar to something great. Like putting
on a warm, comfy dressing gown after a bath on a cold, autumn night, and
discovering that while it’s only become slightly threadbare over the years,
you’re now craving an ultra-plush three-inch thick bear-skin gown, simply
because you’ve become too used to the current one. Like a big, decadent twat.
But 24 hours later, all the stitching of that old, trusted
garment fell out, the gown fell off, and I became very aware that my heating
The horror started, as these things often do, with a day one
patch. It’s a testament to how screwy those supposedly game-optimising
last-minute tweaks have been over the course of this generation that having
played the game quite happily before launch, I greeted my Xbox’s announcement
of the update with a default response of trepidation and gritted teeth. The
additional code should have been a reassuring sight; a warm blanket bestowed
with a cuddle by Warner Montreal, to show that they knew of the game’s last
remaining issues and wanted to make absolutely sure that I had the best
experience I could now that they were on the case.
But I know that it doesn’t always work that way. And sure
enough, by the end of the weekend, not only was I standing wet and freezing in
my living room, but some swine had also put a brick through my window and let
in a stream of cold, stormy air.
Batman: Arkham Origins, as it stands now,
is potentially a wreck of a game. There’s no more accurate way to put it. It
isn’t going wrong for everyone, but when it does, it really does. Every sub-species
of glitch is there, making up the dubious passenger list for a throbbing Noah’s
technical horrors. Failed start-ups. Failed boots. Crippling frame-rate drops.
Missing mission triggers. AI shutdowns. Full system crashes. Dialogue glitches.
Ineffective checkpoints. A world map that loses mission waypoints at random.
Corrupted save files. Any of these alone would be the big stand-out errors in
any release. I suffered all of them within roughly 10 hours, spread across a
single weekend’s play. A single weekend’s play that, perhaps inevitably, ended
with the last, most monstrous glitch on the above list, after my fourth crash
of the day, and the second requiring a pulled plug as a result of my Xbox’s
on-console power button becoming unresponsive.
And it’s not just me. Naturally, like any well-adjusted man
of the modern age, I took to Twitter to catalogue my anguish to strangers. And
lo, between that initial burst from my Akira-style satellite laser of pain, and
some more sober enquiries I put out yesterday morning on my personal Twitter
account and that belonging to GamesRadar (not to mention what's turned up in the vast glitch thread on Steam's forum), I have discovered an echoing catacomb
of wailing gamer voices suffering similar fates. Allow me to relate a few of
them to you over on the next page.