Batman's Arkham guise is among the most successful of gaming franchies out there - and for good reason. Dark and twisted, much like the Christopher Nolan movie trilogy, the forthcoming Batman: Arkham Origins takes the reins for the forthcoming game installation.
Scheduled for release October 25, this third-gen title is one of plenty of incoming games which go to show how strong the current generation of consoles will remain this Christmas. Pocket-lint got the lowdown on Arkham Origins in a Playstation 3 gameplay preview - Xbox 360 will also be available - at this year's E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles, California.
First impressions are that Origins looks to wow. Fans of Arkham will have a lot to like about the forthcoming title - it pushes the storyline clock back rather than progressing forward, including both The Riddler and Black Mask as key bad guys in the build-up tale.
But story brushed aside for a moment, it's Arkham Origins' expanded Gotham that impresses the most. Even though we only saw a snippet of the full map, it's now taller than ever and has doubled in size compared to the previous game. Much of that is thanks to the introduction of South Gotham which adds in stacks more to explore and heaps on plenty more side missions to get those bat teeth into.
We must confess we found the previous Arkham games a little repetitive in their fight-based gameplay sections. Arkham Origins looks to take things up a notch by adding new enemies who can counter your attacks, alongside special takedown combos to diversify the fight sequences. The combat relies on plenty of slow-motion, like its predecessors, ensuring that time-sensitive melee attacks keep the button bashing critical.
Also added is a new XP (experience) system which offers levels from average through to vigilante; a new crime in progress cue system (these map markers can be ignored as they're not mission critical); and crime investigation reconstruction.
It's the last of the trio that's rather interesting: it's now possible to reassemble incidents - a helicopter getting shot down in our example - in order to figure out what happened. A "whodunnit", if you will. Fast forward, rewind or slow-mo scrub back and forth through the timeline to pick out the clues and open up critical and side missions to progress on to. We're in two minds about the system as it may seem a bit plodding and over the top when Arkham has, in general, been all about kicking ass. That ass-kicking hasn't gone away, but layering on the more laborious - and ultimately slower - gameplay might put some fans' backs up a bit. But it will entice in other new players, too.
Gotham City in Arkham Origins is now vaster, taller and more impressive than it's ever been in a game. Add in more missions than its predecessors and wrap all that up in a sinister world and, c'mon Batfans, you've gott to be stoked to prepare for what looks to be the boldest Batman game to date.