Review by THAguyINgta3

"Playing Batman is like being Sam Fisher in a cape and cowl."

There hasn't been a good Batman game since the 8-bit gaming days, which is sad. Like a lot of people, Batman is easily my favorite superhero, and as a fan of the Batman comics, I was very excited for both the game and the movie it's based on to hit the shelves and the theater. Needless to say, I was disappointed by neither.

This game is a whole new way of looking at superhero games. Most people forget that Batman really isn't a superhero, but a human who is very skilled in at least one hundred styles of martial arts and near meta-human strength. So why would Batman be in a game where he is perceived as super human?

In this game, fear is your superpower. You can button mash through some of the fights in the game, but you have to be tactical with some of them. When there is more than one enemy with a gun, you can't just go about fighting them directly. This is where the fear system comes in. When you do something to interact with the environment, like explode some barrels near some thugs, for example, they get very scared and drop their guns.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Like I said, Batman is very skilled in martial arts, and there are some combos in this game that you can perform. The fighting system isn't as deep as, say, Spider-Man 2, but it's enough to please. There is a kick button and a punch button, and you can string together combos with each. During a fighting sequence, Batman might be able to do a special move. These special moves can occur when a enemy is nearly defeated, and you can finish them. Some enemies are able to be interrogated, which is a way of getting things like access codes and other things. When 2 or more enemies are near you, you can do a multiple-enemy attack, and effectively knock down each at once.

Batman also has many gadgets at his disposal to give him the edge in a fight, which include an HF Transponder (calls bats to your location and distracts a chosen enemy), flashbangs (blind a room of enemies), or smoke grenades (incapacitate one chosen enemy). Sadly, the batarangs are used only for solving puzzles and such, like knocking debris out of an area or destroying an object. Hopefully in the next game you will be able to use them in combat. You also have a grapple gun, which will help you get from one area to the next, if needed.

This game is really all about stealth. Like I said earlier, you can't go against a group of enemies consisting of more than one gunner. If you do, there's no way you'll live unless you get very lucky. Enemies shown red on your radar are enemies with guns, and enemies shown green have no gun, but may have knives, crowbars, or something else. If you run while standing, you will make a lot of noise, and people will be able to hear you, but if you crouch in stealth mode, you can sneak up on enemies.

To go through a level, you'll have to use Splinter Cell-ish tactics. Batman can shimmy up pipes, crawl along pipes, open or break windows, use optic cables underneath doors, and a lot more. The thing is, though, that this game is not open-ended like the latest Splinter Cells. There are certain doors you can go in, certain windows you can open/break, and etc. This game is very linear, but this is kind of a good thing. These levels are pretty damn huge.

The level design is fantastic. It's dark, and they have great moods to them. The thing is, though, that there are only like 8 levels in the game. This game is very short and only took me 6 hours to beat on my first time through. The thing is, though, that being based on the movie, I guess they really couldn't add more levels, although they didn't even really stay true to the story of the movie, anyway, as there are little changes, but I'll get to that later. I just wish there would have been more levels. In the levels there are, you will travel through Arkham Asylum, the Gotham dockyard, the sewers, and other levels I would rather not say due to possible spoilers for those of you who have not yet seen the movie.

The game, like I said earlier, was very short, however, if you are a big Batman fan, the unlockables will please you immensely. There is a Gallery of Fear, where you can learn about enemies you faced. There are 2 levels in the game where you drive the Batmobile, and after you complete the game, you can play these levels, although there is no level select for the other levels. Last, but DEFINITELY not least, there are 3 unlockable Batsuits, which were great. The first is the classic Batman suit with the grey suit, blue cape , cowl, gloves, and boots, and the yellow-and-black bat emblem. The second one is just like the previous, although the emblem is just a black bat (the same as in Jim Lee's Hush, for any comic fans). The third is with a grey suit, black boots, gloves, cape, and cowl, and the black symbol without the yellow, like on the 2nd suit. This is what made the buy for me. I'm a huge fan of Batman and the graphic novels, and playing these suits was great to me.

The gameplay, in retrospect, is just amazing. My only complaints are the lack of a level select, the short length, and that there are no REAL boss battles. Don't get me wrong, you do do face the villains in the movie, but they are fights just like you would have with any thug. I just wish they would've last longer or something. For the average gamer, I think that with the lack of these things, they won't feel like playing the game over again, and seeing it as just a rental.

The story in the game is just like the one in the movie, although there are some differences in how events unfold. The story is amazing, though. The movie is, in a word, spectacular. It's easily my favorite movie of all time. I recommend everyone see it. The question some of you might ask, though, is does the game ruin the movie if you haven't seen the movie first? I would say so. The big twist in the movie is revealed in the game, but it's a lot more of a twist if you see the movie. It's just a better experience in the theaters. The story in the game isn't near as deep as the one in the movie, either. It's just like the main parts. You should definitely see the movie before playing this.

The graphics in the game are very good. The lighting effects are great, and the designs are very good, as well. The audio is also amazing. Every cast member from the movie did voice work for the game, and it made it that much better. The score in the game is very cool and set the mood.

To buy or to rent? For the average gamer, I'd have to go with rent, but if you're a hardcore fan of Batman or superheroes in general, then I'd say that this is a buy. Let's just hope that Batman Begins gets a sequel and we get another great game. Hopefully EA can fix a lot of the flaws that were in this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/17/05

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