GBA REVIEW: BATMAN BEGINS

Batman games have not fared too well on the GBA, or even the consoles for that matter. So far no other superhero has been able to capture the magic of the first Spider-Man game. Not even the second Spider-Man game could stand up to it. There are those of you that may disagree with me - but I swear to God I will hunt you down and make you pay for your indiscretion you mischievous miscreant.

Batman Begins is by far the best version of a Batman game for the GBA. While that title may not hold a lot of weight considering how lame the other ones are, this is a decent little package although it does suffer from repetition.

Gameplay elements include combat, exploration, stealth and some strategy in the form of some puzzles. In fact the entire game is one big mystery that you must solve.

Based on the movie, you will learn how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman - not so much the reason why he becomes Batman but how he manages to accomplish this transformation. This part of Batman's history has never been fully addressed and while the text-based scenes do manage to convey the gist of the story you must see the movie to get the full effect.

To learn the ropes of the mechanics you will train with Bruce Wayne at a monastery where he learns his martial arts skills along with his code of ethics. Here you will learn how to punch, kick and block as well as the ability to use stealth and psychological warfare to your advantage. By taking the form of a bat, Bruce Wayne learns that he can instill fear into the enemy and use it as effectively as a weapon. By employing some of the gadgets from your utility belt you can grab some enemies from below and give them a good shaking up which will in turn make the enemies on the ground more fearful of you which will make them less harmful to you. You can also send out bats to further terrorize your enemy.

Batman has the ability to climb, swing and glide his way through each environment. You can use stealth to silence your enemies and keep them from alerting others. The combat system is good when you've only got a couple of enemies to handle but when you're mobbed it's not very efficient. Certain animations have to play out before you can start another move. It makes linking combos very difficult when you're surrounded.

Missions make use of two characters: Bruce Wayne and Batman. Each has slightly different abilities since Bruce doesn't have access to all of the gadgets and the bullet-proof suit. Unlike the console version there is no Batmobile. And while we're on a bit of a downer here anyway I might as well add that when you take a hit there is no grace period of recovery to allow you to get out of the way. If you take another hit instantly it will register. If you get killed you'll have to start the level all over again.

Even though the game is in 2D, it's easy to get around the environments which have a decent amount of depth to them. The sprites are large and Batman is easy to control. The music could be a little more dynamic. It doesn't always change to portray the onscreen action. It should get a little quieter when you're using stealth if nothing but to suit the mood.

Batman Begins is good but it's not great. It becomes redundant as you end up doing the same thing in almost every level. A few Batmobile levels would help to break up the monotony. It's not a long game and it's not a very hard game. There isn't much for replay value so rent it first and see how far you get and if you're interested in going any further.

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System: GBA
Dev: Vicarious Visions
Pub: EA
Release: June 2005
Players: 1
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
2.0