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Batman Vengeance Review

publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft
genre: Action

PII-450, 128MB RAM, 32MB 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: T

release date: Oct 08, 02
» All About Batman Vengeance on ActionTrip

Let's cut straight to the chase. Just so you know, this game is based on the cartoon series, so it won't be following any of the movie plots. The animated series offers a completely new ambiance, which is darker and different than the crappy Hollywood movie adaptations. If you're a fan of Batman: The Animated series, you may enjoy this game since it genuinely conveys the atmosphere, and characters shown in the cartoons.

However, the game's storyline although genuine, leaves plenty to be desired. It all begins with a typical damsel-in-distress situation, facing a bunch of dim-witted thugs that eventually lead you to an arch-villain. The game is divided into chapters, in which you are given a task of tracking down various criminal masterminds and putting a stop to their devious schemes. (Sounds original, doesn't it? - ed) Throughout these chapters you'll be encountering popular characters from the cartoon series, such as the Joker and his wicked little Hench Wench, who I find very attractive for some interesting reason, (you're scary, Vader - ed) the creepy scientists Mr. Freeze, and the malevolent Poison Ivy.

As you begin your first task, trying to hunt down the Joker, you'll find that the gameplay is really dynamic and that'll keep you occupied for quite some time. Each chapter assigns you to catch a new and more dangerous villain. However, this is where the gameplay becomes repetitive and linear, because in each chapter your mission assignments do not seem to offer anything unique. That's when things get plain dull since you can pretty much predict what's going to happen next. Things will begin to improve somewhat when you get to taste Batman's handy gadgets and cool anti-villain weaponry. Broadening the gameplay, these gadgets allow you to deal with baddie-situations in various ways. Stuff like batarangs, electric batarangs, and remote electric charges can help you disarm and defeat bad-ass goons from a distance. Other cool thingies from Batman's arsenal can be used to knock down an opponent (like the stunner for instance). Batman will have trouble handling a large number of thugs unless he's equipped with a pair of batcuffs, which are very limited in supplies. This brings me to a really annoying drawback. The hand cuffs are used to tie up defeated ruffians that lie on the ground; the formula is simple: unless you tie them up, they'll keep coming at you continuously. And I already mentioned that the battcuffs are hard to come by. Now I'm all for games without excessive violence, but I would've appreciated the option to just 'ice' the damn brutes and spare myself the aggravation. Instead of that, they'll be getting up every time you knock them down. Now, it would be quite stupid that Batman carries around an infinite supply of hand-cuffs; one would probably question his motives. Still, it really infuriates me when I have to smash enemies five-hundred times in a row, without any apparent results.

One of the main reasons I wanted to play this game in the first place, was the notion of operating those nifty bat-vehicles. Yup, you get to fly the batplane and drive the batmobile. These sequences are somewhat short and I would say they need polishing in many aspects. When you fly the batplane, you may run into certain control issues (i.e. the controls are inverted in flying mode). The flying sections have quite an idiotic solution for aiming as well. The problem greatly increases when you engage smaller enemies; your crosshair is so large that it can easily obstruct your view. To top it all off, it also has a glaring florescent color, which won't do you any good since most of the ambiance is shadowy and pretty dark.

The enemy AI will work OK ... most of the time anyway. Opponents armed with ranged weaponry will do anything to avoid hand-to-hand combat; and even then you'll find them to pretty challenging. Though, it's a shame that they are restricted to very few moves like punching and blocking - and that looks really lame. The AI of the boss-villains can sometimes be too hard for average players. For example, when you're battling the Joker, it may take you several hours of trying in order to beat him. On the other hand, the outcome of a boss duel may depend on how you use the advantages in the environment. Like when you fight with Freeze you can utilize some items in the nearby area and drop them on his head (but, be warned this tactic can also be used by the enemy). Not much, but a nice moment. One more positive aspect is that you can change the camera angle from third-person to first-person and that helps a lot since the third-person perspective can get on your nerves.

This brings me to Batman's movement. Quite a feeble aspect of the whole game is that ol' Batsie cannot jump on certain objects like crates, larger containers, etc. Seems somewhat hasty on the developer's side. After all, who would want to play as Batman who cannot jump higher ground or climb on a measly crate. Also, I felt really frustrated in certain situations when you aren't allowed to use the batgrapper (which is very similar to Spider-Man's web zip). The use of the batgrapper could've made several challenges in the game easier; I mean it's helluva lot simpler if you could just hook onto a ledge rather than go the other way around.

The graphics could definitely use more work, especially in terms of textures and poly counts. The models are deprived of decent high-res textures; which makes some of the characters look really puny. Generally, the graphics are outdated and desperately need more work (i.e. the game's an obvious console port). Perhaps the only highlight here is that the game's art design successfully managed to capture the momentum of the Animated Series despite the old-fashioned visuals.

The sound effects, music, and voiceovers, is one of the things that perpetuates the atmosphere of the cartoon. This means the sound team did a decent job and it's sad that the same effort wasn't put into the graphics.

Finally, you should know that it won't take you a long time to complete Batman Vengeance. The game is comparable to Activision's recently released title Spider-Man: The Movie, but it's far less attractive and ultimately more frustrating. Similar to Spidey, I suppose it's fun and cool in that super-hero kind of way, but only for few hours. After that, it just becomes dull.


5.9   Okay

Cool cartoonish kinda atmosphere, the sound effects and the music is OK. You can change the view to first-person;

Feeble textures and bad character models; generally outdated graphics. AI is sometimes too much to deal with. You're movement is somewhat restricted.



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