Review by Disco1960

"Dark, only not too dark. Happy dark!"

Batman Forever succeeds at being a lot of things. Among those are a gratuitous milking of the Batman license, and a decent "beat-em-up" game.

At first glance, it'll probably look much more impressive than it actually is. They had the swinging commercial with the catchy Real Game Begins jingle airing at the time, which could easily lead to you believe that this game could capture the experience of being Batman in it's entirety, as well as accurately simulate reality in a mere 16-bits.

Fortunately, we know better, so the game doesn't result in utter disappointment.

In Normal Mode, you can play as Batman and/or Robin and then you work your way through a series of levels that are each loosely based on a particular scene from the movie. Batman and Robin have minor differences in their functionality, and have gadgets unique to their own. (Although logic would have figured that they were drawing from the same pile. Huh.) Story accuracy is pretty much thrown out the window, but there probably wasn't anybody expecting nor demanding the alternative.

Batman looks fair enough, but Robin is clearly wearing straight-up spandex. Perhaps they were going for his "Flying Graysons" getup, which in all fairness did make a brief appearance in the movie, but it's still not the most practical for battling evildoers. It does seem especially tacky when you're fighting alongside the Dark Knight, he who carries the latest in high-tech crime-biting gear.

The action here is rather slow-paced, especially since the game seems to only be able to handle a maximum of two enemies onscreen at any given moment. There's also a loading time between each room that could definitely stand to be shorter. It's not too long, but definitely enough to be noticeable. During these periods, a message appears each time that says, "Hold On". There's no fun to be had during one of interludes, but I suppose that's the least irritating way to punctuate the silence.

Before each level, you get to select two gadgets to assist you in your crimefighting duties. Considering how he's a superhero who at one point in time considered "Shark Repellent Spray" to be standard equipment, one would have figured Batman's utility belt could carry a little more than that. At least, you get to bring your trusty grappling hook with you, which while unfortunately doesn't allow you to scale the sides of buildings or disappear out the window while the Commissioner's not looking, it does let find and access the copious amounts of secret rooms in the game. You'll likely end up launching your grappling hook at every possible surface you see in a quest to discover every one of these juicy secrets.

In addition to his profound lack of storage capacity, Batman also suffers from the fact that most of his gadgets range from "horribly ineffective" to "mildly useful". About half of the gadgets essentially have the same function; namely, immobilizing an enemy long enough for you to give them a good kick in the face once, and the rest of them seem to do nothing more than make your opponent slightly bothered. It would have been really nice if the game required you to properly use gadgets to ease passage through levels, or at the very least do something. The heat ray they have in stock promises "frying", but in actuality delivers little more than a warm and fuzzy feeling.

(On the plus side, you have infinite ammunition.)

Likely due to laziness on Akklaim's part, the fighting system resembles that of the Mortal Kombat games. The uppercut even sends them flying. As a result, the game plays out somewhat like Mortal Kombat: Mythologies, only not half as funny. The system isn't awful, but it's not particularly well-suited to Batman, either, since he's typically the kind of fighter who quickly knocks out his opponent in an explosion of onomatopoeia so he can move on to the next one, rather than waste time by dueling a foe one-on-one when a bomb's set to detonate in five minutes. Most of the time you'll end up resorting to roundhouse kicks and uppercuts to dispatch enemies, anyway.

The use of real-life actors to fulfill roles was an interesting choice, considering how the game plays out like a cartoon. Batman and Robin have special powers stemming from their gadgets, which makes sense. But for some unfathomable reason, they chose to balance this by giving each enemy special powers and abilities that cross the boundary far into the land of Ridiculous.

Take the masked thug's ability to surf on his chainsaw, for example. Or the Riddler thugs's endless supply of holes, which are kind of like the ones they have at the Acme Corporation, that he can leave on the ground and possibly have you fall into. I can't even begin to imagine why the inmates of Arkham Asylum have ultimate control over the power of electricity.

In retrospect, claiming that the game was "real" may have been a poor choice of words.

The training mode pretty much works like a fighting game in effect, and it works pretty well. There, besides Batman or Robin, you can also control holographic versions of any of the enemies present in the standard game, and battle other holographic opponents.

It's a lot like Mortal Kombat, only without a story and your choice from a bunch of weird cartoon characters.

It's exactly like Mortal Kombat!

Batman Forever is perfectly serviceable, if you don't think too much about the fact that you're actually supposed to be Batman. Though, if you're lucky, you might be able to find a few brief moments scattered throughout the game where you can actually believe it.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/07/04


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