GAMECUBE REVIEW: BATMAN BEGINS

Like the man himself, Batman Begins (the game) is padded. It stays true to the movie but at the expense of repetition and a convoluted storyline that tries to tie in all the filler. It's still a good game for anyone looking for an interactive movie that doesn't require much practice or skill. It might even make you feel like Batman since the arcade style of gameplay is forgiving and will certainly make you feel superior to your enemies.

Batman Begins is a short game. Even the lamest of gamers will be able to finish it within eight to 10 hours, making it a great rental choice. It's a single player game with no extra modes (aside from a couple of Batmobile levels) or anything to collect that would extend the replay value. The lack of challenge may disappoint even moderate-level gamers that will find it much too linear.

Batman has his work cut out for him but unfortunately it seems as though most of it will be taken care of by the CPU which will tell you where to go, what tools to use and when to use them. A series of onscreen indicators will inform you of these decisions. It makes for less stress but it doesn't endear you to the game since you can't really make your own decisions. I think the developers really missed the mark by not adding more puzzles to simulate Batman's legendary detective skills. There is a sense of having mom dress you in a Batman suit and send you out on a predetermined route through your neighborhood collecting candy door to door.

If you can live with the shallow gameplay style you just might like this game. There is no doubt that it does provide some degree of fun although it's obviously aimed at inexperienced gamers. Unlike most movie-licensed games, Batman Begins is actually a solid effort. It's got great production values, including great graphics, sound effects, music and voiceovers. The controls are good, if limited, and overall there isn't anything to bitch about concerning the mechanics.

Combat is restricted to a few buttons. You can attack with one button and finish with another all the while holding down the block button which makes you almost invincible - as long as you're engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Bullets will kill you and you will have to dodge your share of them. Enemies can overwhelm you with firepower. There are lots of gameplay elements but shooting isn't one of them. It makes you wonder why Batman doesn't use some kind of non-lethal projectile-firing device. He does use flash and smoke grenades but you have to wait for the onscreen indicator to flash before you can use them. More babysitting.

Batman uses fear to his advantage. He's trying to portray himself as a supernatural force not unlike a demon. By throwing boxes and different items around he increases the fear meter in his enemies. If confronted they might just surrender allowing Batman to interrogate them for information.

Gameplay elements are diverse but they do repeat after a time in order to fill up hours of action. Batman employs various gadgets such as his Batarang to access high levels. He can climb, swing, shimmy and glide through the air with the help of his cape which looks like it's made out of water. Stealth is incorporated into the game. It's very basic and natural. It really doesn't slow the pace of the game down.

Another element is the use of the Batmobile which is basically a battleship with wheels. It will plow through just about anything which should satisfy any little redneck with monster truck fantasies. Frankly I'm not a big fan of the new SUV-on-steroids Batmobile.

Layered with actual footage from the movie the cutscenes give you something to look forward to especially if you haven't seen the movie. The sound effects and music are excellent as is the animation. The production values raise the bar for an interactive movie. If you're just looking for some mindless entertainment with occasional bursts of brilliance to keep you awake then look no further than Batman Begins.

Preview by StewXX & Vaughn

Hands On E3: What will strike fear in the hearts of gamers? Batman Begins, the videogame! In case you think I got that all wrong, just hear me out. I spent a good twenty minutes with EA and Eurocom's Batman Begins and I am giving it to you straight. It's a tough, tough game.

While the mechanics are not stealth based exactly, you'll have to create shock and awe as Batman before you take on even a room with a small handful of enemies. If you think you can just waltz in and start eradicating enemies, you'll die and die often. Fear is your biggest weapon and after playing the game I can tell you that is 100% correct. If you don't succeed in raising the BPM of the criminals hearts before you attack, they will kick your ass all over the place. After the kindly developer on hand explained how to do this, I fared much better. Please note that I was dropped into a level that I was told exists deep within the game, without any prior gameplay experiernce. I imagine once you get to this level after having the game in your possession, you won't be as "deer in the headlights" as I was.

What I played of the game I very much enjoyed, but I unfortunately didn't get any hands on time with the Tumbler levels (AKA Batmobile). I did watch someone else play them and I have to say, it's a good thing EA already owns the rights to the Burnout franchise or there would definitely be some lawsuits. In fact, I was told that Criterion actually had a hand in developing the vehicle chase levels in Batman Begins.

As it stands, Batman looks very good from a visual standpoint. The fighting game engine is decent, but more moves would have been preferred. I'm thinking if there are the same stock beatdown animations going on, that it could get a tad repetitive.

The short time I spent with the game whet my appetite for more and luckily we'll only have to wait less than a month to see a final version.

Previous Preview by Vaughn: Ask any Batman fan and he'll tell you what it takes to make a great Batman game. Unfortunately though, these fans never seem to get anywhere near the development teams responsible for creating games based on their favorite characters.That could be the very reason that 99.9% of all Batman games appear to have been created in the depths of Arkham Asylum.

That intro begs the question - Will Eurocom and EA be able to break the evil spell and deliver a Batman game that will finally do the caped crusador and Dark Knight of evil, justice? Who the hell knows? I'm not even going to pretend that this game will be decent. Once bitten, Twice Shy....you know the drill.

It does appear to have potential and that's as positive a compliment as you're going to get from me until I have the final product in my hands. The game is based on the upcoming movie which is going to great lengths to distance itself from the once great series which became bogged down by ridiculous over the top villains and poor choices for the role of absolutely everyone, save Alfred. The only way to erase images of Batman's nipples, Robin and Batgirl is to start at the beginning, before Gotham City went to hell in a bathandbasket.

Batman Begins gives us a fleshed out origin of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale - American Psycho) and how he trains to become the world's greatest detective and crimefighter. Batman the product has always strived to be a dark foreboding character and his comic debut in the late 30's kept Bob Kane's tone and ran with it. It wasn't until the 60's and the high camp nonsense of Adam West's Batman began to change the character from Dark Knight to clown. Toss in regular appearances in the early 70's on Super Friends and you've got a watered down superhero who shouldn't appear during the day, but frequently does. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight graphic novel returned Bats to his dark beginnings and the late 80's movies starring Michael Keaton paid homage to the series in tone and setting, thanks to the incredible vision of Tim Burton.

The game Eurocom is developing is attempting to make Batman the epicenter of fear in the game, rather than the other way around. Generally in gaming, the hero / player is the one afraid of what is lurking around the corner, even though they have the power to stop whatever it is that is waiting to confront them. In Batman Begins, Batman is the number one source of fear and it will be that mechanic which will make fighting much more to your advantage. Get the drop on a scared thug, who has only heard rumors of this gigantic winged creature and he won't be able to shoot properly and certainly won't have the guts to attack you head on. As I said this definitely has potential.

We haven't seen any screens of the completely revamped Batmobile, but we trust that it will make an appearance in the game. Currently we are also unsure of whether the game will take a "sandbox" approach (go anywhere, do anything) that the previous Spider-Man 2 game put to good use and that the Hulk 2 game will incorporate as well.

As soon as we have more info, screens and movies you'll be the first to know.

 

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System: GC, PS2, X
Dev: Eurocom
Pub: EA
Release: July 2005
Players: 1
Review By Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
1.0