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Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition is set three months after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins, so there will be spoilers ahead.  Though as always I will try to keep any spoilers to a minimum.

Following a suspicious explosion at Blackgate prison Batman goes to investigate and finds out that three of its leading inmates Black Mask, Penguin and The Joker are now running things and each have control of their own section of the prison.  The goings on are even too much to handle for our young Batman and as a result he forms an unlikely partnership with Catwoman and Captain James Gordon.

What are the three super villains up to and can the Caped Crusader trust Catwoman?  Find out in next week’s episode of….oh wait this is no 1960’s TV throwback, this is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition.  So let’s find out more in our review.  Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate as I’m sure you already know, was originally released as a handheld title for the PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS, so how does it visually and gameplay fair with its big brother console upgrade?


It would be easy to dismiss the visuals of the Deluxe Edition when comparing it to Arkham Origins, but doing so would be very unfair considering its handheld roots.  In truth before firing up this game I wasn’t quite expecting it to look quite as good as it does.  While visually it’s a fair distance away from Resident Evil Revelations (which also started out as a 3DS title), it still holds up pretty well in comparison.  Some of the environments may look a little jaded up close, but at quick glance Batman almost looks as detailed as his big brother counterpart.

Blackgate Deluxe Edition complements its 2.5D visuals very well and at times makes clever use of this mechanic.  In case you didn’t know, I’ll try to explain briefly what 2.5D is, so here we go.  Blackgate Deluxe Edition is a side-scrolling title, but occasionally the world will rotate and Batman will zoom off into the distance utilising his trusty grappling hook, before returning to the side-scrolling formula.  While in the side-scrolling view point the environments are not flat and give the impression that they are 3D objects, unlike side-scrolling 2D games of yesteryear or perhaps more recently the indie title Mercenary Kings.  Another game that works well with a 2.5D world, especially with how the in-game camera will be used, is with the indie gaming known as FEZ.

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If you are yet to play Blackgate Deluxe Edition, think somewhat along the lines of FEZ and you may get the general idea of how the clever use of 2.5D visuals can be used.  A nice touch that has also been implemented in Blackgate Deluxe Edition is the hand drawn comic animations that are used as the games cutscenes.  This method of storytelling in-between gameplay sections gives you a better sense of scope to its 2.5D plane and perfectly complements the game.

In most part while the gameplay feels very natural in 2.5D, Batman himself seems oddly quite heavy and moves a little slower and clunky to what you might be used to in previous Arkham games.  I don’t know if this was a deliberate move by the developers, but for someone as free flowing as Batman in combat, it feels a little unnatural.  But that chunkiness aside, the combat itself in Blackgate Deluxe Edition is surprisingly good, as it utilises the same combat mechanic as its big brother Arkham games.  From its button bashing mayhem, right on through to its precise and much imitated counter system, it’s all here.

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Batman will also have pretty much all the gadgets that you would find in Arkham Origins, with a few minor exceptions.  The trusty Batarang, Batclaw and more all make their return, another old faithful friend making its return is the detective mode.  As always this will be used to scope out areas of interest that would not be seen with the normal naked eye.  Though it does feel odd at times when it’s used to see pull-down ladders that cannot be seen until in detective mode, which when seen Batman will be able to pull them down with his Batclaw and progress further into the game.  Surely Batman can see these objects without his gadgets?  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the game, but at times it does feel like you’re being made to use the detective mode for the sake of it.

One other criticism of this game that I have is with the in-game map.  The beauty of the big brother games map is that it is flat, making it much easier to read.  In Blackgate because of the 2.5D gameplay, the map in this game has be designed to complement the game and as a result is layered, perhaps not to dissimilar to the maps that you might find in the classic 2D Metroid games.  But the map in Blackgate is actually in 2.5D just like the game, which can at times make it very confusing to read and can result in you not really knowing your progression path from time to time.  It’s all down to personal preference of course, but with Blackgate Deluxe Edition being an upgraded version of the handheld title, it would have been great to have the option to switch between a 2.5D and 2D map.

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Fans of Batman: Arkham Origins will be pleased to know that the voice cast of that title all reprise their roles in Blackgate Deluxe Edition.  So you will continue to hear the new voices of Roger Craig Smith at Batman, Troy Baker as The Joker, Brian Bloom as Black Mask and Nolan North as The Penguin, also returning from Arkham City is Grey Delisle as Catwoman.  With many of these talented actors having very busy schedules, it would have been easy to draft in sound-alikes to voice the cast in Blackgate, so it’s good to see the full cast spreading their wings and putting in the extra shift.

One area that hasn’t returned in Blackgate Deluxe Edition is the levelling up XP system that you will find in the big brother Arkham games.  So for Batman to upgrade his arsenal of gadgets, most of which will be acquired via the story progression and others you will have to hunt down by finding the many gadget crates that you will find throughout.

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There are also a number of side quests to help keep you extra busy in Blackgate, in fact more then I had expected, which of course is great.  Such as finding Penguins weapon crates, Black Masks drug stashes and more.  Also after completing the story, as well as the side missions Case-file Reports and Crimes in Progress, Captain Gordon will ask you to track down 20 escaped prisoners from Blackgate.  Blackgate Deluxe Edition also features three alternative endings, in which you can use any new suits that you have acquired while playing its New Game+.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition, much like its handheld counterpart is a decent game.  It would be unwise to expect it to hit the heights of the likes of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but as a companion to Arkham Origins it serves its purpose well and adds a little more back story to the Arkham universe.  If I was honest, I’d probably prefer this title in its bite sized handheld form.

For those wanting more of the Arkham franchise and for those that do not own a PS Vita or 3DS, along with its improved visuals, audio and extra maps; Blackgate Deluxe Edition offers a nice little distraction to play help pass on time for Rocksteady Studios curtain call with Batman: Arkham Knight.  So fans of the Arkham fans should appreciate this title, though I would advise holding out until you see it on offer during a sale.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake