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July 1, 2005
Batman Begins - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
16/6/2005EA GamesEurocom1M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
96KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoNoneNo

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Peeking around the corner.
Have you seen the movie yet? If you haven't then there are two things to note: First, go see it - it's brilliant. Secondly, this game basically spells out the entire plot of the movie so there are some spoilers in this review. Directed by Chris Nolan (Memento and Insomnia) Batman Begins looks at Batman's early days and with impressive box office results should be the start of a long running series of movies. The movie and game explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight’s emergence as a force for good in Gotham. Gamers will play as both Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman, hunting evil-doers from the shadows, using strength, intellect and an array of high tech gadgets to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city, including classic villains the Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul and Carmine Falcone.

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Check out the facial detail.
Essentially this game plays as a stealth action title and there's more then the occasional passing reference to Sam Fisher - perhaps they were both trained at Ra's Al Ghul facility. As in the movie Batman sneaks up on enemies before incapacitating them - although he has the assistance of a small radar in this game. Naturally Batman will be able to use the surrounding environments to his advantage such as scaling buildings, jumping between rooftops. In terms of gadgets Batman will be able to use Batgrapple, Batarang, Optic Cables and Lock Picks.

Throughout the levels Batman will encounter context sensitive hotspots where actions can be performed. In fact there are too many of these hotspots where you have to go from one event to the next and you'll spend considerable time going from one to the next. Combat in the game is dead simple too. Press one button to attack and enemy and interrogate for information, then press another to finish him off - too simple.

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Just hanging around.
One of the more unique features of Batman Begins is the use of fear against your enemies. As in the movie fear plays a major part in Batman's ability to take out enemies. In the game this is handled by performing actions near enemies such as dropping crates or making a noise. This increases the fear level in enemies making them easier to attack. In theory it works well, and indeed the developers have implemented it, but it seems a little strange in a game which relies in stealth so much.

On a brighter note, as seems to be the case with many Electronic Arts titles these days, the development team has included a host of extras to unlock from cast and crew interviews, to model galleries and the batmobile mini-games. Prior to playing this game one of our most wanted abilities was to drive around in the batmobile. Surely Electronic Arts, who now own Criterion who develop a certain series called Burnout could use that technology and make driving the batmobile a massive, and most impressive, aspect of this game. Indeed it is simply brilliant fun as it is also equipped with a variety of weapons to use including rockets. The action takes place at lightning speed - but then it's all over. You see the batmobile sequence is so small it may well have been left out of the game - such potential wasted.

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In the batmobile.
The biggest crime the Batman Begins game commits is its length. We completed the game in around 8 hours, possibly a little less actually. For a game that retails for $90 in Australia we would expect quite a bit more lifespan out of the game. Sure, it's pretty fun while playing but there's little incentive to go back a second let alone third time. The length is compounded by a complete lack of multi-player options. Value isn't aided by the very linear nature of the game either. The levels don't offer multiple paths to their conclusion making it feel like you're being shuffled from one set piece to the next. I thought we were getting past this by now? Finally it was disappointing to see that the game didn't stray from the movie much at all. Unlike Star Wars: Episode III which contained levels and sections not seen in the movie the developers haven't taken the opportunity to expand the universe through the game.

Time and time again Electronic Arts continue to lead the pack with their graphics engine and Batman Begins certainly has some of the best character models ever seen in a video game. Unfortunately the animation could have been better and the cameras are also quite problematic failing to give you a sense of direction, or even scale within Gotham City. On several occasions it looks awkward and unrealistic - climbing ladders is one example. The backgrounds are impressive too and capture the look of Gotham City perfectly while the cut scenes flesh out the storyline perfectly.

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Bruce Wayne.
Yet again one area where Electronic Arts has come up trumps is the sound. The music and effects seems to be taken directly from the movie and add plenty of atmosphere to the action. By far the most impressive aspect is the voice case which includes the original actors from the movie including Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Liam Neeson (Henri Ducard), Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes), Cillian Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane), Tom Wilkinson (Carmine Falcone) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox). Electronic Arts were fortunate enough to have most actors record separate dialogue for the game which is always a nice touch.

Batman Begins is strictly, and unsurprisingly, a game for fans of the movie - and that probably includes pretty much anyone that has seen it. The game includes many of the movies set pieces, but the games short legth and linear levels make it better as a rental. Just make sure you've seen the movie before you play the game.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version)
GRAPHICSGreat character models and cut scenes, poor animation and cameras.
SOUNDYet again another EA titles comes up trumps with the sound.
GAMEPLAYThe stealth sections are entertaining, Batmobile isn't used enough.
VALUE$90 for a game lasting about 8 hours, not good enough in our books.
OVERALLBatman Begins is a very linear title, lacking in legth but with very high production values. Rent before you buy.

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