Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

March 23, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]Dots is a huge Batman fan and as such she should probably be writing this instead of me, but given my propensity to be a controller hog she didn’t get to play all that much. So here I am. Let’s get this show on the road.

The first thing you should know about Batman:RoST is that it plays almost exactly like TMNT. The games share a very similar graphics engine. They were both cel-shaded and both used fixed 3rd person cameras that moved thru the level. I ended up giving TMNT a pretty harsh review for quite a few reasons and while this one seems to be very close to TMNT, I think they eliminated a lot of the things that truly annoyed me in TMNT.

In RoST you can play single player or in a 2 player co-op mode. From the beginning you can choose to use Robin, Batman, Batwoman, and Nightwing. There was one stage in particular where I was unable to complete the mission on normal without having Dots as the 2nd player. I tried maybe a dozen times to no avail and the nice thing is that the game doesn’t have to stay 1 player or co-op for the duration. You can essentially pick and choose which levels you need a 2nd person to help you on. The downside is that you have to save, quit and restart the level if you decide to change.

[floatright][/floatright]Each or the 4 characters has a unique set of moves. The button combination and the end result of the move is identical across players, but it was nice to see a variation in the attacks. You start out with a minimal number of moves and as you progress thru the level you gain points which can be used to unlock new moves at certain points in the game. Some moves inflict maximum damage while others are more style based and help you gain additional points for unlocking even more moves. The sheer number of moves you can unlock kept me playing for quite some time as I never seemed to be happy with the move I had just unlocked. Unfortunately, when I had unlocked them all I didn’t seem to utilize more than 3-4 combos from there on out. As I mentioned, each person’s moves are exactly the same in terms of button presses, and this makes it easy to switch between characters assuming you have unlocked the moves you typically use.

One caveat to the point system is that each characters points are separate. Just because you have 10000 points with Batman doesn’t mean you have any with Robin. This made switching to a new character in mid game a very brave move as you were essentially starting over in terms of combos. Another quite annoying discovery was the fact that a new game was completely independent of any previous or in progress games in terms of moves. New game, clean slate. Unless you are a very advanced player, it will take you the entire game to earn enough points to unlock all the moves and even then you only get to use them for a few levels before the game ends.

In terms of gameplay, there isn’t a whole lot to RoST. You basically run thru a level section by section and kill all the same bad guys over and over. Every boss you face has some special trick to defeating him and it can get tiring playing them more than one time. Even on easy I gave up trying to defeat Sin Tzu as it became very very cumbersome. I can’t imagine what it would be like to play him on Hard or even Dark Knight, which I assume is unlocked after beating the game on Hard.

As you play through the game you also unlock different Arena Challenges. Unfortunately, the challenges are all very similar and only the setting really changes. You have the choice to defeat 20, 40, 60, or 80 enemies and be scored based on time or given a certain amount of time, defeat as many enemies as possible. Both challenges kept me busy for only a few minutes before getting old.

[floatleft][/floatleft]To keep the comparison running with TMNT, RoST had an actual combat and combo system where TMNT seemed to be a game based around a string of no more than 3 or 4 moves. In RoST you can build pretty lengthy and impressive combos given a little practice. The random catch phrases from TMNT were also present, but they were a lot less frequent, had a lot more variety, and were immensely less annoying.

Graphically, the game was similar to TMNT, but it was definitely a step up. TMNT looked flat, but RoST has a very cartoon feel to it and looks just like the newest Batman cartoon series even during gameplay.

My initial time with the game left my hands tired as I felt like I was on a button mashing marathon. You can decide if that is a good thing or not. Personally, I like games with a little more skill involved than how fast I can hit the buttons. I took some time away from the game and went back to play it and it took me a little while to get back into the rhythm of the combos.

[floatright][/floatright]The game was also packed full of bonus material that seemed more fit for a DVD of the cartoon series. It had character sketches that could be unlocked by purchasing coins on the different difficulty levels. Needless to say, purchasing these coins means less upgraded moves, so I didn’t waste too many points on this aspect of the game.

Batman: RoST was a highly enjoyable 3rd person action game. The tons of bonus features seemed almost out of place and possibly had more depth than the additional game types and variety in the story mode. The game was meant to be a straight up arcade style action game and I think it accomplished that very well, but after playing through on easy, I sincerely have no desire to go back and play again. The arena challenges are repetitive and the time spent on unlocking bonus features would only be worth it for a die hard Batman fan. Even though I enjoyed my time w/ RoST, I recommend you keep on your list for rainy weekend rentals or bargain bin titles.

Score: 2/5

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