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The Dark Knight falls

But Chinese warriors save the day



Where does he get those wonderful toys?

Developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Batman: Arkham Origins is the third installment in the Batman: Arkham series. The game's storyline is set five years before the events of 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum and features a younger Batman with a bounty on his head from crime lord Black Mask. Mask has summoned eight of the world's greatest assassins to Gotham City on Christmas Eve to kill the Caped Crusader. Other villains, including the Joker and Bane, take advantage of the situation to launch their own nefarious schemes, all while James Gordon and the Gotham City police hunt the vigilante known as Batman.

An open world action-adventure game, Origins focuses on Batman's stealth, hand-to-hand combat abilities, detective skills and gadgets. As in the first two games, he can use his cape to glide around Gotham City and make it to hard-to-reach ledges with his grapnel gun.

The idea of a Batman: Year One video game is exciting — a game that allows the player to train as Bruce Wayne with the League of Shadows and slowly acquire the skills and gadgets needed to become Gotham's Dark Knight — but that isn't this game. Origins is only an incremental sequel (prequel), replicating previous Arkham gameplay without furthering the mythos of the series.

Batman: Arkham Origins does, however, introduce new elements, like a fast travel system (allowing Batman to remotely signal the Batwing to transport him to other areas of the game), fresh enemy types and a multiplayer component.

Not all the changes are good, though. Veteran Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy has been replaced by Roger Craig Smith while Troy Baker takes on the role of the Joker, succeeding longtime voice actor and Jedi Knight Mark Hamill. Also absent is original developer Rocksteady Studios, replaced by Warner Bros. Games Montréal.

If you loved the first two Arkham games, you'll probably find a few hours of enjoyment in this one, but there just isn't enough to keep you invested in the repetitive gameplay and inessential storyline. Perhaps if this would have been a full-fledged entry in the series by Rocksteady, it would be just as good as its predecessors. Instead, it's a lesser installment that isn't worth the time or money.

(Batman: Arkham Origins is available on Microsoft Windows | PlayStation 3 | Wii U | Xbox 360).

There's nothing quite like riding into battle on the back of a big-ass bear, laying waste to peasants and farmers with a giant spiked club while your pet falcon swoops down and maims your enemies.

Developed by Omega Force and published by Japanese distributor Koei, Dynasty Warriors 8 is a beat 'em up game; it's also the eighth installment in the Dynasty Warriors series, which is based on Chinese writer Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In a Dynasty Warriors game, the player selects a legendary Chinese warrior or military general and fights in huge, sprawling battles during the Three Kingdoms period, eventually defeating all other rival kingdoms and uniting China under a common ruler.

With more than 80 characters and hundreds of weapons and upgrades, the replay value of Dynasty Warriors 8 is off the charts. Exclusive to this installment is a new game mode called "Ambition Mode," which tasks the player to build a village for peasants and allies and gain the attention of Emperor Xian. To raise your kingdom's status, the player must fight in three different kinds of battles: skirmishes, which provide materials to expand your kingdom; unconventional battles, which increase fame and reputation; and large-scale battles, which allow you to recruit new allies. As you progress, you can add blacksmiths, merchants, barracks and farmers to your kingdom, providing items and supplies to continue your campaign.

As is the standard with any new release in a franchise, the game also features upgraded graphics with less lag and fewer frame-rate issues. All in all, if you're looking for a game from which you can get a lot of mileage, Dynasty Warriors 8 is an addictive hack 'n' slash title.

(Dynasty Warriors 8 is available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Xbox 360.)

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