[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/batmanbegins/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Movie-to-game adaptations have long since been the whipping boys of the gaming industry. Having not yet seen the [i]Batman Begins[/i] movie, I figured I would go in with a blank slate and no preconceived judgments. Now coming away from the game, I can safely say I would rather not see the movie if it is anywhere as bad as the game I had to play.
[i]Batman Begins[/i] is a stealth-based action game that makes use of fear and stealth as its primary weapons. The game takes you from the monastery in the Himalayas where Bruce Wayne learned his extensive array of martial arts skills back to Gotham City to track down a madman known as Falcone to try to unlock the mystery behind a new hallucinogen he is smuggling in.
The game does a great job of capturing the dark overtones of the new film, and the voice acting is provided courtesy of the cast of the film and is quite good. You will also be treated to cut scenes from the movie to advance the plot in the game.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/batmanbegins/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]The graphics on the PS2 version of the game were pretty standard fare, and I did experience quite a few slowdowns and lags during my time with the game, but that is often the case with my PS2.
The controls for [i]BB[/i] were easy and straightforward. Batman has two attack buttons that you can use to string together neat combos of attacks when fighting one or more enemies. You will also get to make use of interrogation techniques and final moves to finish off your enemies. Oftentimes, you will be forced to interrogate an enemy multiple times before being given the option to finish him off. When these are available, you will be alerted by a note in the top right of the screen. This is typically where context-sensitive hints will be shown, such as grapple points and various other things.
My main complaint with the game was all related to how linear it was. Most games have some sort of linearity because there are triggered events that advance the plot. Many of these games don’t feel linear due to their expansive environments or the fact that you can free roam until you are ready to advance the plot. [i]BB[/i] lacks an expansive environment and the lack of areas to explore make you follow their strictly linear game path out of pure necessity. After playing a few levels, I got tired of finding the “alternate” path, stealth-killing one or more enemies, and using the environment to raise the area’s fear meter and then ambushing the remaining enemies. While this sounds like it might be fun, it gets utterly boring after the tenth time.
I mentioned that stealth and fear are a huge part of the game, so let me explain. As you kill enemies, you build up a reputation that increases the fear in opponents. The higher the fear factor, the less likely they are to actively attack you. Using a crane to take out a group of them raises the fear factor of the area causing them to drop their weapons and be slightly disoriented.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/batmanbegins/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]Along the way, you will also collect and use various gadgets, such as a grappling wire, flash bangs, and bat-styled ninja throwing stars. The use of these items will also be limited to times to which the game allows you. That got a little irritating.
True Batman fans may be able to look past the shortcomings of the game and find an enjoyable experience, but I took the linear gameplay and inability to use weapons unless prompted as a sign that you were barely playing a game and merely watching a promotional tool for the new movie. The game just didn’t do it for me and basically ruined my interest in the movie as the whole fear gimmick seemed very cheesy. I can’t honestly recommend that anyone run out and buy [i]Batman Begins[/i]. If you absolutely must try it out for yourself, feel free to rent it, but this one is probably enjoyed over a weekend and not worth the purchase.