Video game review: 'Batman: Arkham Origins' -- 3 stars
The "Batman: Arkham" series already has given gamers two nearly perfect iterations in the past few years, so it seems reasonable to set the bar high for the prequel, "Batman: Arkham Origins."
And maybe that isn't fair. After all, "Origins" was the product of a different development team -- albeit using nearly all of the same gameplay as its predecessors.
It's not that "Origins" is a bad game. Not at all.
It's every bit as much fun to play as the first two in the series, and you still get the distinct feeling that you're slipping on the cape and cowl. The problem is that the game just feels like too much of a retread.
Plotwise, all you need to know is that there's a $50 million bounty on Batman's head, which attracts eight assassins to Gotham on Christmas Eve two years into The Dark Knight's career. There are some twists along the way, but it's not the doozy of a story gamers were treated to in the last game, "Batman: Arkham City."
It sets up the action well enough, the boss fights against most of the assassins are a highlight of the gameplay, as has been the case in the series. The Bane and Firefly battles are especially memorable.
Beyond that, the stealth portions of the game will feel almost exactly the same as in the past. So will the combat, even with the addition of the new -- and overpowered -- shock gloves.
The only big thing that makes this game stand out in the series is an added online multiplayer mode. It's an interesting idea -- two gangs fight for supremacy while Batman and Robin aim to take both out. The mode isn't a flop, but it's not going to win over online gamers who'd rather be playing "Call of Duty."
Most, however, will be happy to play through the story and numerous side missions. They'll have a good time, just not as good as they might have been hoping to have.