About as good as you would think a handheld Arkham Origins would be.

If you go into the game expecting it to be Arkham Origins (AO) you are going to be disappointed. This is a handheld game through and through. The fighting, stalking, and exploration is all familiar but not quite the same. Everything just doesn’t compare to the console counterparts. The only thing it did have in common with AO was the good but not quite great setting. I’m all for playing a younger Batman but if you are just going to give us the same old shit (JOKER! PENGUIN! CATWOMAN!) what’s the point? The idea is sound but they don’t follow through with it. I understand a game without those heavyweights won’t sell as well but the game feels stuck between two ideas and neither really work. Why give us a younger Batman if hes just going to do the same old thing? However after taking my head out of my ass and looking at the game as it is (not City but a completely different game) I began to appreciate what it does.

The combat still feels fun and flows quite well. It’s essentially the same thing as AO: you flow from bad guy to bad guy punching, kicking, and countering all while trying to build your combo gauge and avoid getting pummelled. It’s a lot more simplistic (guys are only to the right or left of you) but it still feels satisfying and keeps some of the same challenge. Stalking doesn’t translate quite as well though. It’s a lot more simplistic and I found it tedious. Instead of waiting for the right chance to sweep in, strike, and leave I found myself just ripping through it going as fast as I could. Blackgate really lacks any real challenge.

Where the game really shines however is the detective mode. Here you tap the screen to enter the mode and hold your finger over the screen to sweep for possible points of interests. I found myself really enjoying this aspect, searching for the way to continue forward was fun and felt natural. They don’t really lead you by the nose here but things are laid out in a way where you have to put in some effort without frustrating things. When you get stuck (which happens often) you simply have to look for the logical way out and boom, there it is. It helps give you the feeling of actually being Batman. You are finding the way, instead of having the game point it out to you. I can see how others might find this distracting, it’s an excuse to use the Vita’s touch screen, but I really enjoyed it.

The story is about the same as AO: solid but uninspired. Shit is going down at Blackgate and you have to set things straight. Alfred must be out with the flu as Catwoman takes over the “tell payer what to do” role. Where Arkham Asylum areas and objectives were always changing Blackgate feels stagnant and boring. You go through halls into other halls that lead to drab and boring areas. Instead of ramping things up and creating new and fun objectives Batman just goes through a check-list. The story was what you would expect of a comic book game before Arkham Asylum changed everything. Batman does stuff and things and the Joker is here! Boring.

The controls are solid ( I had no problems) and the graphics are as well. It’s definitely a handheld game but this could have been released during the earlier years of the PS3 and people would have been happy. The cut scenes are comic book panels (original concept!) done quite well actually. The art style was nice and fit the look and tone of the game nicely. As I said above the whole presentation is summed up in one word, uninspired. Here is Batman, nothing more or less.

I enjoyed my time with the game as a though. It’s a proper handheld game, fun for short bursts but nothing you would want to sit and play for an extended period of time. I paid $20 and I felt I got my money’s worth. Anything more than that though and I would steer clear.

The game was played on the PlayStation Vita.