Batman Arkham Origins is my favourite dark knight game

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It’s been two years since Batman: Arkham Origins was released. Two years since fans were subjected to a buggy mess of a prequel that could barely manage a fast-travel system before crashing into a sea of glitches and flames. Man, what a difference time makes.

And that’s because since then, Arkham Origins has actually become…pretty damned good. In fact, it may be my favourite game in the series. And as much as I enjoy ribbing PC gamers, I have to admit that it is PC gaming which redeemed Batman Arkham Origins for me.

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Now before Geoff eggs you on to form a moderately upset mob, hear me out. There’s a big difference between favourite and the best. I still think Batman: Arkham Knight is the best Batman game. But dammit, Arkham Origins has managed to win me back since 2013, now that it works the way it was supposed to.

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Because back in 2013, the game was pretty much broken for me. It crashed consistently. The frame-rate was slower than Sandy on a treadmill and stuttered more than King George VI at a public event. But listen, none of that matters now.

The game has been properly fixed, and is no longer more jarring than something which jars terribly. I’ve run out of analogies at this point.

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And that has made a world of a difference. Who would have thought that a video game running smoothly would be better received? Mind you, this is thanks to me playing it on PC, with visuals properly ramped up.

But I love it. I adore it. With a graphical engine which doesn’t resemble a clown car crash, I can properly enjoy it now. There’s a fantastic story within Arkham Origins, a prequel that does the caped crusader better justice than 2005’s Batman Begins.

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It’s the Die Hard of Batman games, a Christmas story where the dark knight has to face down a gauntlet of assassins who are after the $50 million on his head, with a magnificent twist hidden in the second act. It’s also a story that leads down to one of the most enjoyable boss fights ever committed to a video game:

That fight is just beautifully paced. It’s a titanic struggle on WWE levels, with a give and go attitude that remains white-knuckle tense all the way through. It is one of the very best fights ever, and a sublime example of focusing on only one aspect of the Batman, and maximising the potential of that gameplay mechanic.

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Like I said, Arkham Knight is the best Batman simulator out there. It has plenty going for it, and I’ll probably have to make a strong case later this year about why it’s the best racing game of the year. But Arkham Origins has redeemed itself.

Two years on, and it has managed to become the kind of game that I was looking forward to at launch. It’s grim, brutal and I think Roger Craig Smith is the best successor to Kevin Conroy’s Batman.

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And it’s a game which you can pick up for mere pennies these days, whether it be a Steam sale or from dodgy third-party website based in a Russian gulag. Maybe it’s time to give Origins a second chance, because I’m no longer even calling it Arkham Oranges anymore.

Last Updated: October 6, 2015

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