Batman Begins

Batman Begins - Review PS2

Batman Begins - Review PS2

The movie Batman Begins has been received by practically everyone as a much welcomed return to how the Caped Crusader should be portrayed. After being put through the pain of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin it has finally returned to the dark, atmospheric and eerie style that it rightfully deserves. I am pleased to say that these qualities have not been lost on the transition to the game. A game released purely on the back of a movie release is usually a recipe for shocking playability and pointless gameplay, but in this case it appears that EA have got things right.

After training in the Himalayas with the Ninja Master of the League of Shadows Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City to set about his one-man (or should that be bat?) mission to clean up the streets. There's a big deal going down between the mafia drug smuggler Carmine Falcone and Dr. Jonathan Crane, AKA The Scarecrow. As almost all the cops are corrupt, its down the Bruce's alter-ego to stop the shipment of cuddly toys containing deadly chemicals being unleashed on the unsuspecting Gotham population.

The training level in the Himalayas gives you a run down of the basic moves but its not until you get into the action that the slick moves come out. In true ninja fashion the element of surprise is your greatest asset and there are numerous elements of your environment that you can use to your advantage. Climbing conduits, swinging on chains and hanging on overhead pipes all help provide you with an improved vantage point to plan your attack on the unsuspecting adversaries. Thanks to the on-screen pop-ups you'll never miss an opportunity to use the environment before getting stuck into the combat. This is in some ways a little annoying as the next move is gifted to you on a plate, and there's no skill required to accurately use your grappling hook or Baterang. But they do provide entertaining cut scenes which are adequate compensation. For example, in the car park a Baterang is used to break a scaffold support which in turn sends a pile of debris crashing to the floor. Thus making the hoods drop their weapons so you can take them on and increasing your Fear and Reputation ratings. Certain weaponry, such as Smoke grenades, can only be used when there is ‘fear' in the area so it is important to keep an eye out for anything that will build up the ratings to make more interesting combat scenes.

Unfortunately the fighting techniques are very limited, one button for punch and one for kick with on-screen prompts for when the finishing move or multi-attack can be utilised. The minute before and after your button tapping is where you'll get most satisfaction, scaring them to start with and then interrogating them after the fighting. But this isn't always the case, by entering ‘stealth' mode Batman is able to stalk a villain and perform delicate yet deadly finishing moves. The fact that there is no great skill required to perform the move is once again compensated by the seamlessly smooth cut scene production.

Using your ninja skills to sneak up on the enemy, and the environment to your advantage is the only way you'll successfully move through the levels as taking on an armed thug will result in almost certain death, this bat doesn't have wings of steel! It appears at times that the bad guys are a little dopey and deserve a pasting because they lack the ability to simply look up or turn around.

For a little variety, 2 levels involve very high speed driving in the Batmobile through the streets of Gotham . With Nitro burners on full blast you smash your way through any other vehicles on the road and as you're virtually indestructible there's no need to be too careful. And there are a plentiful supply of Nitro power-ups to make sure you never need to ease off the pace for too long. It by no means tries to compete with a driving game in terms of handling but as the car is almost as iconic and the man himself it deserves an appearance in the game.

There can be no complaints about the quality of the graphics and all 12 levels boast beautiful cinematography. It appears that a great attention to detail has been made to emphasis the fear that Batman generates, with multiple mini-cut scenes which add a refreshing angle to the genre. It is also great to see that all the cast from the movie have put forward their voices for the characters. With guidance coming from Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Katie Holmes whilst Christian Bale, who sounds like a bag of gravel, invokes terror into the enemy. With a cast that could only be equalled by a GTA game this dimension secures Batman Begins as a very credible game.

Overall, for any Batman fans out there this will be a definite winner. It's not the most challenging of games and there are areas that have room for improvement. But it does provide lots of entertainment and is brilliantly presented, plus there are enough clips of the movie and cast interviews to unlock to make up a DVD bonus features disc.


7.5 out of 10

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