Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Writer
E3, the biggest video game expo in America, started yesterday in Los Angeles and incredible amounts of great content have been announced to the public. So far, the technical and online aspects of the next-generation consoles, like the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, have blown audiences away. Batman Arkham Origins, one of the many games presented at E3, had its moment in the spotlight during its cinematic gameplay trailer. The trailer showed off how players control the caped crusader, and how he’ll face off against the notorious Black Mask and the villains that he hired to kill Batman on Christmas Eve.
The combat looks as smooth as it did in the two previous Arkham titles as Batman strikes and counters his opposition with his physical finesse. The way he kicks an enemy to the curb or how he rips away a thug’s weapon and redirects it to deliver a crimpling blow to the face is still eye candy for audiences. Much like Arkham City, Batman is able to glide throughout the city of Gotham with relative ease. He also has the Glide Bomb, which allows him to get the drop on his enemies on the streets through an aerial kick or body slam. The motions and physics behind each of the vigilante’s fluid actions made Batman look as strong and agile even when the superhero is considered “inexperienced” or “vulnerable” during the timeline of Arkham Origins.
Martial arts and aerobatics alone do not define the Dark Knight experience, his arsenal is crucial as well! Gadgets ranging from the Batarang and the Batwing to the X-Ray Detective Vision made their return in Origins. The newest technological gem Batman showed off was the Remote Batclaw. Similar to the Batclaw that the Dark Knight uses to pull enemies and objects towards him, this little refinement gives Batman’s tool a more offensive edge to it. With the right precision and aiming, he can hook a patrolling sniper to a vantage point high in the air to ensnarl the gunman and remove an obstacle from Batman’s path. Or he can even hook two enemies and pull them towards each other, knocking them out in a very satisfying fashion. It is sure to be an enjoyable diversion to test out which enemies and what parts of the environment can be attached to each other with the Remote Batclaw. While not a lot of new gadgets or special fighting techniques were highlighted in the trailer, Origins will most likely have plenty of gameplay options to offer players when they go throughout the campaign.
Finally, the voice actors that are taking on the responsibility of Batman and The Joker were revealed. Roger Craig Smith, known for roles like Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II and Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 6, are baring the mantle of the Dark Knight. While Troy Baker, known for his excellent performance as Booker DeWitt in Bioshock Infinite and Joel from The Last of Us, are voicing the psychopathic clown. There was some hesitation amongst the Batman community with the absence of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill who’ve nailed the idiosyncrasies of Batman and Joker as their prime actors. Honestly, the new pair of talent did a great job and sound very close to their acting predecessors. Roger Craig Smith does a very intimidating Batman as the Dark Knight hangs one of Black Mask’s hired guns from the clock tower. While his voice is not as deep and ominous as Conroy’s was from Arkham Asylum or the early days of The Animated Series, Smith did a great job in channeling his inner Bat. Troy Baker, while getting only one line and a Joker laugh in the trailer, made it apparent that he immersed himself in the role of the Joker. From the speed of his pronunciation to the maniacal laughter, Baker’s performance was almost akin to Mark Hamill’s rendition of Joker. It was very eerie and it caught the audience off-guard. Even if Conroy and Hamill officially decide to retire from doing the Batman franchise altogether, Smith and Baker would be the perfect spiritual successors for voicing the Dark Knight and his greatest nemesis.
Although the voice actor, at this point, is unknown, the voice of Black Mask was stellar. Black Mask’s voice has this dangerous mafia-esque edge while it oozes a need of self-indulgence for control along with an insatiable appetite for seeing Batman dead before his feet to maintain his hold over the Gotham underworld. It rings especially true when he says, “This city has a problem. Some freak who thinks he’s a hero. Luckily there ain’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved with a little bit of money.” Very excellent performances in the trailer overall!
E3 will be moving into its second day and Batman Arkham Origins is looking like a great and ambitious game that has not lost the blueprint of its predecessors that made the Arkham series so great. With a bundle of new content such as an expansive city, new gadgets and a fresh cast of new talent to voice the Batman characters, Arkham Origins is definitely a must-play on my list.