Going into the game with the a new developer at the helm of this legendary franchise, I was extremely nervous, as Arkham games captured not only the essence of the Dark Knight himself, but also the dark sinister world in which he casts his shadows. I was expecting the developer will stick to the comfort zone and will follow closely if not completely copy the blueprint of the gameplay and structure perfected by Rocksteady (the developer of the previous two Arkham games) while coming out of the comfort zone with a captivating origin story that drops the first dominoes towards the build up to the next two games in the chronological sense.The good news is they indeed managed to keep the solid gameplay intact, in fact they didn't make any changes to the fight and gadgets, just with different variations of the same gadgets used in Arkham City like Glue Grenade over Freeze Grenade. There was a much greater emphasis on Batman's detective skill-set. As as you found more evidence, the crime scene slowly builds and is illustrated in a hologram. You sometimes had to rewind, pause to a specific spot to find a clue that you might have missed. It was really cool, and perhaps the only new thing this games does that was not done in the previous game. Although, I wish it was much more deeper and instead of just looking at the spot and pressing the 'X' button to scan and tag. Oh well, there is always the next Arkham game right?
So I never expected the developer to re-invent the bat wheel for the series, that sort of task is best left to Rocksteady and good thing they didn't as results might have been catastrophic. However, I wished they had done better with the narrative flow of the game as well as the plot. The story felt disjointed and felt like different pieces of awesomeness attached to one another in hopes of making one giant awesomeness instead of melding pieces of narratives that complement each other and make one big awesome narrative like Paul Dini did with the previous two games. I was hoping the Christmas background of the game would add to the atmosphere, but apart from some radio of random christmas songs and some Christmas decorations here and there...it hardly felt like a Christmas Eve, sooner than later it felt just like another long night for Batman. The Another thing that caught my eye was the city itself. The game is supposed to take place in Gotham City, or some part of it. However it hardly feels any different from Arkham City. With virtually no one out in the street instead of hundreds of thugs and random police here and there. This further kills the Christmas vibe, seriously I don't care if it is snowing like crazy, people go out during Christmas Eve, at least some do. At times I felt like I was back to Arkham City, or even worse, considering from the number of thugs out on the streets and rooftops far outnumbering the country's soon-to-be biggest criminally Infested Zone.
The story is not at all bad, where Arkham Asylum was a great batman story, Arkham City later became perhaps one of the best (personally the best) Batman story I've witnessed; Arkham Origins comes out short and tends to be a good story. Then again, it is sometimes hard to blame the Warner Brothers Montreal because the legacy left by the first two games were so great that I doubt any developer would succeed leaping over or even matching it.
The new voice actors did a solid job and overall the performance of voice actors were on par with the previous games. I thought I would dearly miss the Conroy/Hamill duo of Batman and Joker. I did, but the performance of the actors were amazing, especially Troy Baker's Joker, the way he captured the insanity, the horror and the comedy of Joker only Mark Hamill previously understood.
I haven't tried the multiplayer yet, I will post my impressions as soon as I dive into it.
So there you have it, its a very good game and a worthy game to add to the Arkhamverse. If the previous two games were masterpieces from a renowned artist. This game comes out as a masterpiece from the artist's best student. The student will only get better as long as he/she comes out of the comfort zone more often.
Sidenote: Why on Earth did the developers switch the controls from shoulder buttons to the triggers in his game? They blatantly copied the xbox 360 controls instead of keeping it how it was on the arkham city. The springy R2/L2 of Dualshock 3 makes quick firing gadgets feel terrible. Really hope they patch it up to revert it back to the way it was.