It’s always the same. Every time a new Hollywood blockbuster is released, it comes with a licenced videogame that always lacks a proper finish. There are exceptions to the rule (Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King…), but they are rather rare. EA tried earlier to end this long-lasting mayhem with Catwoman and failed miserably. Now they’re rolling out Batman Begins. Is it a nice attempt or will history repeat itself?
Batman Begins is a third-person action game that follows the storyline of the movie to the letter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since Batman Begins is in fact a pretty good flick, as opposed to the utterly subpar disasters Batman Forever and Batman & Robin (George “Mommy, help me, I think I have a broken fingernail” Clooney as Batman?!? Jezus, what moron came up with that?).
But, my beloved gaming audience, Batman Begins unfortunately fails where many other action titles have failed before, namely in the camera and controls department. The camera just feels very clunky, especially during melee combat, because it rarely stays behind the masked hero and manually adjusting it doesn’t help a lot.
With only one kick and one punch button, BB’s fighting mechanics aren’t anything to write home about. There also aren’t any real combos in the game, although, admittedly, there are some finishing moves (that are shown in a short ingame cinematic).
Technically, the game won’t hit any new ground, but it still looks rather nice. The environments are well varied and richly detailed. Unfortunately, only a few select objects can be destroyed and most of the time you’ll need to wreck them if you want to progress.
Which brings us to my next remark. The game is very linear. And I do mean linear as in draw-a-straight-line-with-a-ruler linear. There is always one clearly marked path to follow, and diverging from it usually results in either a “mission failed” screen or immediate death (caused by armed guards). Speaking of which, those guards can be forced to drop their weapons by manipulating the environment. If you light up explosive canisters for example, guards will scare and your reputation meter will rise. Not that it has any kind of effect on actual gameplay anyway, but hey…
To soothen the kind of one-sided experience, the developers added some short Batmobile levels to the mix. In true Burnout 3 fashion, you’ll just ram enemies and innocent bystanders of the road, using a nitrous oxide boost while doing so. These interludes are pretty enjoyable, but they’re still far from being really memorable.
The only point where Batman Begins truly stands out is in the audio department. All of the actors from the film lent their voice to the game, which means performances by Christian Bale, Liam Neeson and Katie “look at me, I’m sleeping with Tom Cruise” Holmes amongst others. Furthermore, between the levels, you can see some nicely cut movie footage, that can also be viewed in the extras.
To sum things up, the videogame return of the caped crusader isn’t as successful as his movie comeback. The game suffers from the same errors as 90% of the other officially licenced videogames. It isn’t a complete failure, but -to put it in commonplace terms- it could have been so much better.