Batman is one of my favourite super heroes, especially after I saw the Batman Begins film (can't wait for that sequel in 2008) although he's not really 'super'. Instead of possessing super strength, speed, and other stuff like that, he's pure natural. Intelligence, cunning, deception and his own physical abilities are the keys to success, not to mention all the funky he stuff he has.
Although the movie was absolutely fantastic, the game.. well, the curse of the movie license continues.
Batman Begins the game is mainly based off the movie. The rich kid Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered when he was a child, and before that, he was traumatised by an incident involving bats, so he didn't have a great childhood. At some point during his life as an adult, he embarks on a journey which takes him across the world, as he explores the mind of the criminal and eventually recieves special ninja-esque training to combat justice, oh, and he becomes Batman later. But at the beginning of this game, all this aside, you are the Batman.
Playing as Batman just "feels" cool in a way, and he's quite easy to control. The controls are easy and very fluid, he can jump (and double jump - although I find that a bit odd), attack with punches, kicks and finishing moves, and play with his gadgets when the time comes (which sounds so wrong). Combat is simple, Batman can block (and even counter attacks), punch, kick, and finish off enemies when they're ready to be taken down. When enemies block too often, you can deliver a power punch which stuns them, unfortunately they can do that to you too. You can also flip around with acrobatics as you target your enemies. The combat is easy to pick up, and unfortunately, can be either extremly easy, or extremly difficult, which is overall either frustrating or no fun at all.
The movie's main theme is fear, and in the game fear comes into play, although quite poorly. Some of the enemies carry guns, and while Batman is sporting a prototype, one of a kind suit of awesome bodyarmor, he is quite fragile to guns, which in a way makes sense. Which is why Batman must use the environment around him to stealthfully attack his enemies. Regarding fear however, it is just silly, in each level in certain areas, there are points as to where Batman can throw one of his bat-shurikens at something, and cause loads of environmental destruction. This the scares the enemies, and for some reason they drop their guns.. if they were scared, wouldn't they be hugging their guns? Well, anyway, that's what happens. When enemies become scared, now is your time to strike, as they become scared even further and won't fight as properly, or they might just drop to the fall and curl into a ball. It's quite cool, but the developer's were thinking very poorly in regards as to how to actually scare the enemies.
Stealth is an important aspect of the game, being very similar to that of the Splinter Cell series. Although at times, the stealth is just silly. Instead of doing something like Sam Fisher, and capturing his enemies and taking them away, Batman will literally beat the crap out of them from behind, and thus all enemies around you will notice you. At some points Batman can initiate special take downs, such as waiting above an enemy while he hangs with his grappling hook, this also isn't very fun as it activates a cinematic where Batman swoops down, takes them up, and kicks 'em down. Now, it does look cool, but you're not doing it. If I wanted to watch Batman kick some serious arse, I would of watched the movie, which I already have.
A cool feature is interrogation, but only some enemies (set enemies) can be interrogated. Batman picks 'em up by the throat, talks to them, and will dish out punishment to them such as punching them and headbutting them. It is a bit unrealistic how he holds them up by the throat with one hand, but hey, it's Batman. Christian Bale provides excellent voice acting for Bruce Wayne and Batman, and I applaud the fact the entire main cast is in the game as voice actors. Nice script, and great voice acting.
The game is pretty good in terms of graphics, the environments are usually dark and gritty, while the enemies and Batman look good altogether, with realistic animations. Batman's cape looks cool too, although there are times when his cape has severe glitches and goes through his entire torso or something. While the actual in-game animations are nice, cutscene animations are not. While the character talks, they are frantically moving their arms and hands about, it's as if the developers thought this would make conversation look more realistic. Oh how they were wrong, if they really did think this. What I also had a problem with is, okay.. Batman is very agile and is a martial artist, but if you noticed in the film he doesn't use flourishing moves, instead, he uses quick strikes that don't look all that complicated, and he does it quickly to take down the enemies as quickly as possible. But in the game, while the game claims they are using Batman's fighting style, he busts out many unrealistic martial art moves and acrobatics, it's just.. weird, I have no idea why they did that.
The game has at least two driving levels where you get to drive Batman's vehicle, the Tumbler, or the Batmobile. The driving levels though are pretty dull, basically it's just drive from point A to point B at really high speeds while destroying enemy cars and such. It's just like a combat racing game, or something, and has very little depth to it. It looks good though, courtesy of the Burnout engine, but it's nothing special and in the end, very easy.
The game doesn't have much to offer in terms of unlockables, it offers new costumes that do nothing except make Batman look different, and some other stuff such as commentaries, behind the scenes etc (for the game). The game is also horribly short, being at least five hours in total length, while the difficulty isn't going to say much, as I finished it over two nights on normal difficulty, total play time was five and a half hours. Playing on harder difficulties doesn't really help either, it'll make the game harder sure, but it won't give you any new unlockable stuff.
So overall, the game looks and feels good, but there are some animation glitches and the combat system (while easy) becomes repetively annoying. The stealth factor is very linear while the fear system is poorly thought out. The actual driving sequences are too short and easy (much like the game itself) and there isn't much to unlock. This would be a rental at best (that's how I played and finished it).