Batman: Arkham Origins is a free to play app, and whether you're a mobile or a tablet user, the idea of the Dark Knight in an iOS world is downright enticing. Debuting this app a week before its console release also gives gamers a primer to Batman's current adventure. The key to this title's success lies on its freemium aesthetic. Will our Caped Crusader flourish amidst an in-app purchased Gotham?

On a pure enjoyment level, Batman: Arkham Origins satiates one's ultimate brawler fix. With a touch, swipe, and tap fighting mechanic, its game play has a similar addictive feel to Infinity Blade III. Like your chosen warrior in Infinity Blade III, Batman is tasked with dispatching a group of thugs before facing the inevitable boss. Blackmask has enlisted a dangerous crew of cronies to take out the Dark Knight, so expect a ton of intuitive battles which require much more coordination than thought. Call them beat 'em ups or punch drunk showdowns, but it's hard not to love a game that appeals to one's more primal and bellicose instincts.

Beating your enemies to a bloody pulp requires frequent tapping of the action icon located at the lower right hand side of your device, and the middle icon is used for special combat maneuvers during the fight. Once those respective buttons are pushed, you'll directionally swipe your fingers to complete certain combo moves. Although your fingers may get numb after a few beatdowns, Batman: Arkham Origins delivers its brawler aesthetic with aplomb.

Upgrade freaks will also be satisfied with the plethora of improvements that can be added to Batman's fighting and defensive skills. In game money is achieved with every successful battle, and you can use that cash to also increase Batman's regenerative strength or purchase different Batsuits. Boosts, which is our Gotham avenger's version of performance enhancing drugs, can also be bought to increase his survival chances. Although I spent a ton of cash to increase his punching skills, I definitely needed to add a damage or armor boost during my battle with Deadshot.

The great news is Batman: Arkham Origins succeeds as an app that is perfect to pick up and play for several minutes. If you want to fight a few bad guys and tap and swipe to your hearts content, it's a totally worthy download. The eye catching graphics also effectively captures Gotham's grim, German expressionistic aesthetic. Although a few shadowy silhouettes would have been more suitable to my tastes, the more mentally stable gamer doesn't want their fights shrouded in darkness.

For players who need an hour or two worth of total immersion, real life money or an extremely high level of patience is needed. The title's continued game play rests on Batman's stamina bar, which is depleted after every mission he undertakes. After a few battles, your cup will run empty and this horrible message from Alfred telling you to wait several minutes to refill your stamina will appear.

Waiting in the wings to engage in another mission is a total buzzkill, and unless you are resigned purchasing in-game currency, lag time will be a huge part of your Batman: Arkham Origins experience.

Free to play titles are an acquired taste. Some gamers prefer to pay for a few premiums once they decide they actually want to invest in the app. I'd rather take my chances, fork over several dollars, and have uninterrupted game play with a minimum of freemium distractions. Whichever poison you prefer, everyone gets hit with that proverbial stick one way or the other.

Batman: Arkham Origins should have been a top flight journey, but due to its free to play compromise, this title is far from perfect. If you're not going to spend any cash, make sure you have other apps to play while you wait for the status bar to refill. It's an inconvenience which turns this fighter into merely a good outing for the Dark Knight. When crime continues to abound in Gotham and when lunatics continue to run amok in Arkham, good simply won't do.


App Store Link: Batman Arkham Origins for iPhone & iPad | By Warner Bros. Entertainment | Price: Free | Version: 1.0 | 517 MB | Rating 9+

6.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating