reviews\ Oct 22, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Batman Vengeance - PC - Review

The game begins with a bang! Literally.

It’s just the Joker’s way of saying hello and welcoming you to Batman Vengeance, a release for the PC from Ubi Soft, and Warner Brothers Interactive. This is a game that is not only stylistic in sporting the current cartoon series look, but has also managed to plunge the Dark Knight into a world that is as brooding as the Caped Crusader. Yes, there is intrigue, deception and plenty of action.

However, this is not a game to tread into lightly. The control elements are a labor in themselves, and should you try to forego the keyboard/mouse combination and rely on a game pad, you may have better control over Batman, but other elements which are necessary to the game play are lost.

The game begins with a scream for help from Gotham Chemicals. Batman arrives in time to find a woman trussed up in front of a bomb. After saving the day, Batman discovers a note on the hapless victim. It is from the Joker and demands a huge sum of money if the woman wants to see her son, Toby, alive again.

Back at the Batcave, Batman has Batgirl run a check on Mary Flynn. Not only does she not exist, but neither does her son, according to records. Though Batgirl informs Batman that he can’t save the duo because they are already ghosts, Batman heads for Mary’s apartment. He arrives just in time to see one of the Joker’s henchmen making off with the woman over his shoulder. What follows is a chase across rooftops (how one person can move so fast carrying a weight, and traverse the skyline to quickly is amazing – and we are taking about the henchman who appears on rooftops quite a distance away, forcing the Caped Crusader to grapple, and “fly” across the chasms). Batman will have to use all his skills if he wishes to rescue Mary.

Of course, Episode 1 in this tale is A Girl to Die For.

In this tale, players will control Batman. Batgirl is standing by at the Batcave to offer assistant via a communicator. The bad guys trotted out include the Joker, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, in addition to all the thugs there for Batman to punch and kick his way through. And players will have the opportunity to drive the Batmobile and fly the Batplane.

Ok, it doesn’t take a genius to put some of the plot together. And a few of the puzzles seem relatively simple, but the game is rife with action. Camera angles hinder your course (as Batman) throughout the game. You have to go into free look to rotate the camera and get an angle on what lies before you. This is problem, especially when trying to line up jumps. And the camera, at times, falls so far behind the action that you can round a corner, especially in the pursuit to Mary’s apartment, and be in a fight without, at first, seeing the thug you are fighting. Just flailing away until the camera rounds the corner is the best you can do. Thank goodness the AI isn’t all that smart, or the thug could move around and do serious damage before you can get him in your sites.

Now it should be noted that this PC version was released on console platforms last year. This is not a ‘new’ game in the sense that it has never been seen before. It has.

While the controls are laborious, the graphical elements of the game – with the exception of the pixilated cutscenes – are very well done. It looks as though this tale stepped right off the cartoon series. The sound is also very slick. The voice acting is terrific, and the music score is excellent. The sound effects are exactly what one would expect.

Batman Vengeance is, for the most part, a slick-looking game, that falters because of poor camera angles and convoluted controls. The game has a decent plot, and lots of action, but the game falters in the user-friendly department. What could have been a good title is merely an average outing ported to a different platform a year later. Batman fans will likely enjoy this and want it for their collection. Action/adventure gamers will probably be better off looking for a different game.

This game is rated Teen.

Gameplay: 7
The game suffers from poor camera controls. The load times are relatively fast, and the transition from scene-to-scene moves well. The mapboards seem huge, though the path through the game does appear to be rather linear.

Graphics: 8.5
The cutscenes do not look very good, but the game itself is well rendered, with a wonderful feel that emulates the cartoon series. The coloration is fantastic, and the animation is superb.

Sound: 8.3
The sound effects are rather average, but the music and vocal characterizations are well done.

Difficulty: Medium
The control elements are not really set up to be user friendly. There is a learning curve of 20-30 minutes to get comfortable with them. The camera rendering of the game makes it even tougher.

Concept: 7
What is new here? This is a game that showed up on other platforms, like the PS2, in October of 2001. It is just now making its way to the PC.

Overall: 7
The camera angles and control elements make this game harder than it needed to be. The linear nature of the game cuts down on replayability. Yes, how you do is scored, and you can always go for a better score, but you will find power-ups in the same locations, as well as thugs. The graphics and sound are superb, but other elements get in their way.


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