Full Review: Where does he get those WONDERFUL toys?
From the comics, to the cartoon, to even Adam West's follies, Batman today still holds his popularity as one of the greatest comic book icons. Based on Paul Dini and Bruce Timm's cartoon that recently was aired on the Kids' WB Network, Ubi Soft's new exploit is a look at this anime styled episodic adventure. And, from a legion of down right terrible video games, Batman finally stars in a game that you can be proud enough to hang on your mantle. Slip into Batman's tights and get ready to live as the caped crusader in a series of fiendish plots and death defying situations to solve the grand scheme that lies within Gotham City...
Out on patrol one night, Batman perches over the towering rooftops of Gotham City. The Joker's laughter permeates in the distance, and Batman flies into action once again. Only to find that after knocking The Joker's minions senseless, his run in with the clown takes a turn for the unusual, when, The Joker's life comes to an end. Or so we think... Now on the hunt to find out what The Joker was up to, Batman will face his old enemies Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and even Harley Quinn in a twisted game of cat and mouse as The Joker's twisted plot haunts Batman from beyond the grave. Get ready to live the night, cruise the skies, and creep the shadows as the Dark Knight himself...Batman!
Graphics wise, Batman: Vengeance is not surprising to be only the best Batman game yet, but also the best looking. Through the game's FMV clips, the WB's cartoon series version of Batman and the other cast look as if the TV show were dipped into a vat of 3D liquid and came out shiny and new. The in-game graphics share a quality very similar, since every section of the game's maintenance is very much like the cartoon indeed. Vengeance's exploration consists of darkened streets, dimly lit rooftops, and hi-tech laboratories...whatever you've seen in the cartoon before hand is of what can be expected in the game too. Though, while playing Batman is similar to even the cartoon's depth, the graphics as in a game's sense don't fare when compared to other titles on the PlayStation 2, which would otherwise bloom with detail. It's not a bad thing that the graphics aren't pushed to the limits, in contrast that the cartoon characters themselves aren't very much like that to begin with anyway. Every other aspect of looking at the show's amazing transformation into a video game, little nuances like how when you throw a batarang at a wall, the cement will chip away. Or, how each character model's shadow is cast on the walls is very well done.
Bruce Wayne the millionaire isn't without his many gizmos to take along for the ride. Acting the part as Batman, you'll come equipped with neat little toys like smoke bombs, the grappling hook, batarangs (both normal and electric), nets, handcuffs, and even a remote detonator. Amongst using these intricate devices, Batman will also have an arsenal of third person exploration moves to dig into. From jumping, to gliding, to punching and kicking, Batman can do it all! Batman even has the ability to sneak around when pressed up against walls, and peek around corners. Do I detect Batmetal Gear 2? With so many moves to perform, however, the game is kind of a hard task to accomplish. Too many times will the camera angle focus on Batman, and not on the environments ahead of him. This detracts from smooth gameplay, as at times you won't be able to see an enemy in front of you. Other times you'll discover yourself messing up a lot when the one-sided camera and darkened imagery isn't that visible for jumping from rooftop to rooftop. One other gripe I had with the gameplay is that from the standard tools you can use while in third person mode, you'll have to switch to them in real time. This means while an enemy onslaught is taking place, you'll still be in a first person mode rotating the list around to find what exact item you're searching for. Not having the option to block while in first person is the main problem of the matter. From the screwy camera angle, to the first person system, it's tough to be the hero.
Using what the belt has to offer isn't all that's required in Vengeance. In the game, there'll be certain scenarios where you'll need to give the Batmobile and the Batplane a spin around the city on a chase for evil. Corresponding with one of Batman's hi-tech rides switches into a different mode from the regular gameplay, which consists of dodging signs, buildings, vehicles, and ultimately bringing justice to the getaway criminal by finishing them off in highway combat. Controlling either the plane or car can get tough, but with enough practice, the entirety of Vengeance's gameplay comes to ease. More so, through playing the game, text messages often pop up and inform you how to actually control a vehicle, or even how to dive from a building top and rescue a falling victim. The lists of trademarks just keep on coming, luckily.
Amongst the different styles of gameplay options, you've got your regular exploration to do. As Batman, you'll indeed have to fend yourself against many of the TV series goons. From the all too famous face painted and jelly bellied Joker guards, to the winter coat wearing, freeze gun-blasting women that Mr. Freeze takes under his wing, Batman will encounter them all as is seen from the show. Coming across the various enemies, you'll get the option to finish them anyway you like. If you're not into stunning the enemy or knocking their weapon out of their hands with a batarang first, then you can just take them on one at a time using your brute force in a fistfight. Blocking, punching, and kicking combos are what is needed in order to dispose of the combatants most of the time. To make sure an enemy never raises a gun towards you again, Batman is capable of using a set of handcuffs for restraining each foe into submission.
Puzzles are actually a large quality of the game. Many times through, situations call for different tactics that Batman has at hand. Sometimes you may have to unlock a set of doors in a certain fashion, or even at times figure out how to successfully save a falling victim. Looking for objects to open doors, as such, may at times be present. Defeating a boss comes as sort of an enigma in situations too, form the way certain enemies have different abilities. These different brainteasers aren't actually that difficult at all. They're hard enough to an extent, but emblematic in that you'll know what to do from the in-game explanations often received. Each objective is explained to you for what to do. All you've got to do as Batman is, well...do it.
Like I've mentioned already, the game is a replica of what was made up in the cartoon. And, as you may have already guessed, the same cast from the series voices each one of the characters in the game. Famous actors like Kevin Conroy (Batman) and even the legendary Mark Hamill (The Joker) of Star Wars fame are all a part of the Bat experience. Albeit that the actual cast from the series are doing what they do best, their scripts become repetitive too often within the gameplay. For instance, when you're fighting a boss, they like to repeat the same few lines that have been preprogrammed for that one battle. This method may have worked better if there were maybe more script in use rather than listening to an annoying few. Both for the FMV clips and the in-game movies, the character's lips are synched with what is said, turning out that each time the motion is dealt with very well. As for the in-game sounds, like the cartoon, there's much of Gotham City to hear. From authenticity in how each of Batman's gadgets turn into life, to how explosions, footsteps, and of course that maniac Joker's laugh all blend in well to the show's genuine nature. Music also plays out seemingly well, as it's of a dark symmetry, which is composed rather well to play along with Batman's action themes.
Not only has Ubi Soft made this gaming experience sleek in gameplay options and character depth, but they've also made use of the PlayStation 2's capabilities not normally found in any other title. When running the actual game, you'll be prompted to select which language format you'd like to play in. Unfortunately, there's only a choice between French or English...but no matter. The game's also capable of Dolby 5.1. Surround Sound for the best quality in listening to everything you'll need to hear. When playing the game, you'll find that progressing into the story further opens up new "episodes". Each time you finish an episode, the game will grade and save them individually, thus, you can later enter any episode you'd like to play again for a better score. You'll even get all of the saved movie clips that were strewn throughout the story, so you won't even need to play the game a second time in order to see a certain in-game movie you might have liked.