Batman Begins – PS2 – Review

Begins (the movie) couldn’t have been better. It had great actors, great
dialogue, and a superb story with more depth than the last two Batman movies
combined. The game has those same elements, telling the story with silent
clips from the film and narration by Bruce Wayne. Fans will love this,
especially those who see the movie before playing the game. They’ll also love
the polygon characters, who look eerily close to the real thing. "That’s the
Caped Crusader," is the thought that comes to mind when playing other Batman
games, whose characters are poorly defined. In this game you’ll look at Batman
and say, "That’s Christian Bale."

Begins hits the nail on the head with top-tier PlayStation 2 effects. The
movie sequences are closer to DVD quality than any other PS2 game I’ve played.
Virtually every graphic technique we’ve become accustomed to is featured here:
excessive (but very good looking) light effects and a cool bat suit with a
semi-shiny finish. (Note: It’s not an exact replica of the new bat suit
featured in the movie.)

What struck
me most was how Batman walks, runs, jumps, glides, etc. The way that he glides
after a double jump – that’s very Batman. The way he maneuvers in combat,
performing acrobatic flips and Mortal Kombat-style jump kicks is not typical
of him (Batman is a human superhero and has no special powers outside of his
ability to save the world). For the first time in a game his attacks are as
cool as Dante from Devil May Cry. When a character is that cool, you feel cool
controlling him.

me what I want to know!"

By now
you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned the gameplay. Hang onto the
Batmobile gamers, ’cause we’re about to take a nosedive.

Begins has three serious problems. First of all it isn’t very long. I don’t
know about you but I don’t like the idea of paying $9 to see a great two-hour
movie and then be asked to spend $40 to $50 on a four- to five-hour game (it’s
shorter than that, but I inflate my time to compensate for lost lives,
re-starts and the ever popular camera spinning). Yet this seems to be the
trend among movie games.

Second, it
isn’t that fun to play. It isn’t necessarily boring, but I’m not excited when
I play it. I’m not excited to return. Combat consists of flashy moves that can
be executed by pressing a couple of buttons. Hit square three times to punch,
tap triangle to kick, and use the all-mighty circle button to break an enemy’s
defense. The circle button doubles as a multi-attack where Batman performs a
spinning kick to stun two or more enemies. It’s marginally better than
Catwoman’s analog stick combat system (where you point the stick in the
direction of your enemy). To sum things up: the challenge is weak. The enemies
are easier to defeat than the AI duds from Spider-Man 2.

Third, the
driving portion stinks. It made for a great movie sequence but fails to
deliver the same level of excitement at home. The developers borrowed
Criterion’s ingenious Takedown feature from Burnout 3, which could’ve resulted
in a mind-blowing car chase. Instead we get a watered down mini-game with bad
graphics, awkward steering, and very little speed. The picture blurs as the
speedometer rises, though I doubt anyone will be fooled. Your speed hasn’t
been increased much, but the level of control drops along with the tiny bit of
fun you might’ve been having before the mini-game started.

know what they say about beauty, how it’s only skin deep?

There wasn’t
any need to include the Takedown feature. They don’t advertise it. They don’t
use it properly. It doesn’t enhance or change the experience in any way. Am I
missing something?

From racing
to the third-person levels, Batman Begins is a linear experience. You can go
anywhere you want within the environment. However, the environments are
designed like a course. You can go toward the goal or move backwards, nothing

another thing. When you’re not punching thugs you’re running around Gotham
City. The movie answers our questions about the story, but as a game, what is
my mission? I’m supposed to save the world, but why does every objective
involve a locked door, a guard with a gun, and a badly constructed take on
spy/espionage gameplay? I’m supposed to stay within the shadows – never be
seen by anyone. The thing is they forgot to change the light source and erase
Batman’s shadow in one of the levels. The shadow stretches so big that there
is no way the enemy did not see it. In typical videogame fashion, the enemy
stays oblivious and will not attack unless you walk up to him.

Batman can
use projectile weapons to cause explosions or to release a stack of barrels,
scaring the guns out of nearby enemies’ hands. They drop the weapons and do
not attempt to pick them back up, even after Batman makes his presence known.
They’ll use crowbars, but not the guns.

"Oh no….nooo!!!
Get away from me!"

Begins prevails in theaters but fails on the home game consoles. Good graphics
are only ignored when the gameplay is a full point or two below the graphic
score. That’s certainly the case here. The controls belong in a five-year-old
Tomb Raider clone, not a new Batman game. And it’s not like it always looks
pretty – Batman Begins has its share of bad hair days, too.

Scoring Details

for Batman Begins

Gameplay: 5.5
Designed for the
mainstream audience, Batman Begins is as basic as an action game can get. This
might sound crazy, but I found more complexity in the last Tomb Raider! The
combos are weak; the missions are repetitive; and the combat system was taken
from the Prince of Persia series.

Graphics: 8.0
The one redeeming
aspect (sort of). Batman Begins has great effects like windows (the way light
shines through them makes a nice yellow glow) and walls (the way the shadows
wrap around them). It also has excellent videogame versions of the film’s
actors. You won’t believe how real they look!

Sound: 6.5
Not the most
outstanding comic book soundtrack.

Difficulty: Easy
If Batman Begins
was solely a game property, this would likely be the end for the series. The
destined movie sequel guarantees that another game will follow. May I request
meaningful gameplay that has intelligent objectives and exciting combat?

Concept: 6.5
The attempt at
diversity is admirable. The result is anything but.

Overall: 5.9
Great license,
great movie, bad game. Batman Begins’s low-budget gameplay doesn’t cut it when
the price tag screams big-budget motion picture licensed property. With
the price of game rentals skyrocketing, I can’t recommend it as a weekend
killer. You’ll beat it before the weekend’s up, and then what? How many times
can you watch the same movie clips? You’d be better off going to see the movie
a second time.