November 28, 2001
Batman Vengeance - Review
When it comes to comic book characters and super heroes few are bigger then DC Comics' Batman. These comic books have since been turned into four movies (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin) which despite the poor script, acting and quality of the last movie still made an absolute fortune. There has also been a TV series in the mid 1960's starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin which which lasted for 120 episodes and is still re-run around the world to this very day. More recently, a Batman based animated cartoon was released, which this game takes inspiration from, including the graphic style. This is UbiSoft's big pre-Christmas title, and the time spent in development hasn't been wasted.
|The game has plenty of gliding.|
Batman Vengenace is predominantly an action game split up with plenty of cut scenes to tell a rather detailed, and lengthy, story. The game begins with Batman having to rescue a young lady who has been kidnapped, but almost ends up dead himself in a trap set up by The Joker. A $5 million ransom is put up for the woman's son who has also been kidnapped but it leads Batman on a dangerous mission in which he will encounter foes such as Poison Ivy, Mr Freeze and Harley Queen as well as The Joker.
Batman Vengeance is comprised of 5 major missions which are split into 19 smaller levels in total. The majority of the game is played from a 3rd person perspective (behind the character) although you will often have to switch to a first person perspective to use some items such as the Bat Grapple. Controlling Batman is a joy as he can walk, jump, glide (with the aid of the Bat-Cape), sneak along walls, cling onto ledges, climb ladders, punch and kick enemies, and of course use a wide variety of objects including Batarangs, Electric Batarangs, Bat Scope, Flashbombs, Batcuffs (which should be used after defeating each opponent so they don't get up again), Remote Electric Charges, Batgrapple, and Bat Launcher with Stunners. These items are all used through a menu system activated with the R2 button on the controller. The controls are quite responsive with very few problems moving the superhero through the numerous levels although the camera occasionally takes some strange angles, but can be resolved by hitting the L1 button to reset the camera behind Batman. During some levels of the game you will have to pilot the Batmobile and the Batplane, both of which are tremendous fun to do.
|Spying with the Bat Scope.|
While this game is tremendous fun in general there are a couple of small problems with the gameplay. Firstly, having to enter a menu to change the equipped item every few minutes becomes annoying, especially when you have several opponents belting you senseless and being able to use some of these weapons only in first person mode becomes tedious. Another problem is that although this is a 3D action game the game is pretty strict on the paths you can take. You can't, for instance, select which building you want to glide over to as the game only offers one spot for the Bat Grapple to link onto. The interactivity of the game is also quite limited with most levels only having the barest of items to interact with such as switches and doors, and little furniture of fixtures in the rooms. Finally, it's also annoying that you can't attack an opponent while in the air after a jump. You have to wait until Batman has two feet on the ground before attacking. These are all minor annoyances but occur frequently enough not to be ignored.
|Batman climbing the ladder.|
The first thing that will strike you about this game is the cartoon styled graphics on offer during the cut-scenes and throughout the game. This is an intentional move by UbiSoft to retain the look of the TV series, and not a lack of development talent. The characters and levels are plain textured with bold colours, few curves and little variety. Because of this style the game actually stands out from a lot of other platformers, which look all too similar these days. The animation on the characters is extremely well done from crouching, punching, and flying it's all exactly what you would expect. Perhaps more variety in the attacking moves would have been nice but it doesn't really take anything away from the game. Cut scenes in Batman Vengeance are stunning and could easily have been taken directly from the TV show. All in all this is one superb game graphically, despite what many people may mistakenly think.
Yet another aspect that really lifts this game above average is the beautiful soundtrack. The game is full of Batman styled orchestral themes and includes some terrific sound effects as well. But it's the voice acting that really stands out as the actors involved with the TV series have returned to voice the characters in this game. This is one of the most impressive sounding games on the PS2 to date.
|The beautiful Gotham City.|
Batman Vengeance was a tough game to review. The graphics to many may seem below par, but fans of the recent animated series will appreciate just how well UbiSoft have transferred the artistic style of the TV show to this game. All the characters look and move exactly as you would expect while the voice acting is quite brilliant. Fortunately the gameplay is varied enough to hold your interest through the entire game. If your a fan of Batman in any form then you will likely get much out of this title which is as close to being the actual super hero as many of us are likely to ever be. This game comes highly recommended.
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