The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Batman Begins’ can’t quite soar

Observer Scene | Friday, September 9, 2005

Many consider the original Batman film, directed by Tim Burton, a contemporary classic, but it may soon be surpassed by the Dark Knight’s current incarnation in Chris Nolan’s “Batman Begins.”

But even though Batman Begins is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, an excellent film, this Batman game needs some major improvements. While this game is 100 percent Batman, it fails to transcend the norms of action games and fails to be all it can be as both a superhero and a Batman game.

This game does follow the film fairly faithfully. It never takes huge liberties with the events in the movie. But, it has been tweaked slightly to make it more acceptable as a video game. Like the movie, the game follows Batman’s first attempts at being the Caped Crusader. It starts out in Arkham Asylum, but then moves into flashbacks which lead back into the beginning of the game, and then continues on to the finale. This change in setting and back story creates a little depth for the character and provides people who haven’t seen this movie a chance to understand what is going on. During game-play you are accompanied with Bruce Wayne’s confidant and friend Alfred. Alfred offers you advice and tells you of the goals to come in the level. There are two kinds of missions in the game, the first in which you play as Batman searching for clues to forward the plot and fighting off various villains, and the second in which you drive the Batmobile around Gotham City chasing bad guys and escaping from the police. The game’s 10 to 15 hours of game play aren’t amazing, but are the best of any other in the Batman series.

When you play as Batman, one of the major points of the game is striking fear into the hearts of your enemies in order to make them flustered and confused. The game takes a realistic approach to Batman this time in the fact that you can’t rush through the game like Rambo. One guy with a gun is more than sufficient to ruin even the Dark Knight’s day. You have to use the game’s environment to scare your prey to frighten them out of using their weapons. Also, by taking out the strongest opponents (i.e. the ones with weapons or giving orders) you can scare the others badly enough that they come close to passing out from fear. This addition to the game is an enjoyable one, but it could have been done differently. The game is extremely linear, usually only offering one way in which to scare your opponents.

While there are no major flaws, there is also nothing spectacular about the game. It does get a little tiring to see the same 10 generic thugs over and over again. The in-game movies use the same quality or rendering as game-play, but film footage is incorporated into the game fairly well. The audio work is well above average. The ambient noises in the game make it believable that are actually in the game and are creeping through a steam filled subterranean corridor. Also, the voice acting is superb, with all the principal actors voicing their characters (save the glaring omission of Gary Oldman). The sound effects quality of the game is also well done, providing that little extra to make the game feel more complete.

Of course, since this game is based off of the latest Batman movie, there is no multiplayer option. This isn’t a huge problem though, because the stealth style of the game is better situated for a single player. The controls to the game are simplistic at best. While combat is a large part of the game, the player essentially has an attack button and a dodge button at his disposal. Also, Batman’s gadgets are simplified in the game as well because you can only use them when you are near an enemy and in combat or when your opponnent is already scared. You can’t just use them like you think Batman really would, but have to follow the poorly designed item engine in the game.

There aren’t too many special features in the game. Once the game is completed, you have unlocked alternate Batman costumes from past incarnations of the Caped Crusader. While interesting, it does nothing to change the gameplay. Also, you can unlock both of the Batmobile levels so that you can play them as a stand alone mission or as a time attack. While fun the first few times, it gets old rather quickly.

This game is the best Batman game to date, and the best superhero game of the year so far. This game does not compare to the superhero game “Spider-man 2,” but it is still worth a rent.