Batman Begins hit theaters last month and Electronic Arts also released Batman Begins for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. The game, just like the movie and comic books, tells the story of Bruce Wayne and how after his parents were murdered he trains to become Batman, the legendary Dark Knight, to try and rid Gotham City of crime. The movie received great reviews but will the game follow suite?Batman Begins presentation and graphics are top notch. Inner mixing cut-scenes from the movie before and after the levels really helps you feel like you are playing the movie. The cut-scenes taken from the movie look great but the game’s graphics are no slouch either. I would have to say that Batman Begins’ graphics are some of the best I have seen in a 3D action game such as this. The animation and facial expressions were really done well and the people in the game don’t look stiff like in a lot of other games in this genre. The lighting and shadows in the game are also done well and they needed to be to allow for the style of gameplay that has you lurking in the shadows and sneaking up on people. Level design in the game is also good but somewhat linear. There really is only one path through the game even though it seems like you are moving around in an open environment. They made the areas big enough where they don’t feel like you are clearing room after room but essentially you are in Batman Begins. This is probably why the animation and character detail is better in Batman Begins than other free roaming games like Spider-Man 2 for example.
The game also takes a lot from the theatrical release for its sound effects, voice acting, and music. EA was able to get pretty much everyone from the movie to play their parts in the game. Expect to hear Christian Bale’s voice when Batman talks, Katie Holmes’s voice for Rachel Dawes, Michael Caine for Alfred, and everyone else’s for their respective characters. This adds a lot to the game and makes it feel more in touch with the movie. The sound effects are also well done and punches and kicks definitely come through your speakers in a way that you can feel the pain. The other effects for the grappling hook, climbing up chains, walking on ventilation ducts, gliding down to the ground on your cape, etc. all fit perfectly and sound great. Another cool sound effect feature is the ambient sounds and how you will hear the thugs in the area talking about the crime they are going to pull off or their fear of Batman as they discuss if he is real. So, while you are sneaking around the area you get to hear their conversation and get more info on what is going on in the game. The music is also well done and has that climatic orchestra super-hero style to it. I have not seen the Batman Begins movie yet but I am guessing most of the music is from the soundtrack. If you have seen the movie and liked the music then you should like what you hear in Batman Begins for PlayStation 2.
The gameplay is a mix of sneaking around Splinter Cell style in the shadows and platform/fighting game action. The sneaking around aspect of the game was fun and the ability to scare the bad guys in the area by knocking things over with your Batarangs or by tripping switches was enjoyable. By scaring the bad guys in the area your reputation and area fear status goes up which makes it easier to defeat your enemies and get the upper hand. Also, while you are sneaking around you have the ability to sneak up behind an enemy and knock them out without them or others in the area knowing. You can also grab them sometimes and interrogate them to get more info on the case. I know this type of gameplay has been done before, but it fit well into the Batman theme of the game. The fighting/beat ‘em up portion of the game will have you fighting multiple enemies using different punches, kicks, special moves, and devices. This part of the game was also fun, since it was intermixed with the others well, but I wish you could’ve used the smoke grenades and other items before the fight instead of during to scare your enemies and get the upper hand. The platforming sections of the game will have you jumping from ledge to ledge or chain to chain, shimmying along pipes, and performing other stunts to move through the game’s levels. These sections are also fun and entertaining and keep the game from being just a one trick pony. The last gameplay mode in Batman Begins is when you get to drive the Batmobile in a Burnout 3: Takedown style racing game. This section of the game could’ve been a game all itself and if you like it and haven’t played Burnout 3: Takedown yet then I recommend getting it. Also, if you have played Burnout 3: Takedown and enjoyed it then you should feel right at home with these levels of the game. If they would’ve provided more Batmobile levels either during the game or after you beat it as bonus stages it would’ve been a lot better. But, just like the rest of the game, the replay value isn’t that high after you beat it once.
Controlling all of this action in Batman Begins is pretty easy and the button layout is intuitive after you play the game for a little while. You should have no problem pulling off special moves during fights or sneaking up behind an enemy to knock them out after a little practice. The controller will respond to your input well and you shouldn’t have much to complain about when it comes to controlling the Dark Knight in Batman Begins. Even the camera in the game seems to stay at a good angle most of the time so you can see the action and if you can’t it is easy to adjust it using the right analog stick or by pressing the L2 button to center the camera again.
Batman Begins has a decent amount of unlockable items available as you play through the game and this adds to the fun. You will be able to unlock interviews with the actors, cut-scenes, and other behind the scenes footage. Unlocking other Batman costumes is another feature that adds to the game and it is nice that EA took the time to add these things. Another unlockable is the Batmobile levels so you can play them stand alone without having to play through the game again to get to them. This is nice since these levels are of Burnout 3: Takedown quality and use the Burnout 3 engine and you will probably want to play them again a few times now and then. I just wish there were more of them as mentioned above.
Batman Begins maybe doesn’t have the most original gameplay aspects and you have probably seen everything you do in the game in some other game in the past, but that still doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to play. If you are a Batman comic book collector, like me, or a fan of the movie then you will probably enjoy this game a lot while it lasts and even if you aren’t in one of these categories you should still enjoy it. Batman Begins is a fun game to play but it’s most disappointing factor is that it is kind of short and doesn’t have a lot of replay value once you beat it. With this in mind, you may want to rent Batman Begins before you buy it just to be safe.
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