First and foremost, I’ll mention that I’ve played several bouts of this game over the past month or two…and in between then & now, I’ve gone back and replayed through the entirety of the Arkham trilogy. TRILOGY. With that refresher, it’s quite fascinating to take a look back at Batman Begins to compare & contrast what went right, what went wrong, and in many cases…what went boring.
Boring might be a pretty harsh word, really (yessssss, reversed the ref’s decision right after the jump). A better word would be linear. There really isn’t a whole lot of room in the game for improvisation or strategy when it comes to combat encounters and traversing the world. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m fairly spoiled by the open worlds of the Arkham games, as they present multiple options I can pursue at any time, in either combat or simply wandering around the map looking for secrets. Being funneled from freedom into a Disneyland ride with only a single option for advancement (and swift death to anyone who dares stick their hand out of the roller coaster) is quite a rude awakening. Controls are contextual, meaning that I only throw batarangs or use my grapple hook whenever the level itself dictates that it’s the only course possible to advance. Worse still, many of the areas fail to properly articulate what is expected of you, so using your wits is more prone to failure than going on a suicide mission with your fists. To pile some more on your plate, the stealth mechanics seem fairly skittish, as I noticed most prominently in one area where enemies were able to see me, even though I was clearly outside of their line of site.
The biggest thing that the game has, by far, is its presentation. Shockingly, EA managed to rope in the majority of the actors from the movie to voice their roles. I mean, look at this bat shit crazy (heh…hehehehehe…) list of actors reprising their roles:
- Christian Bale
- Michael Caine
- Liam Neeson
- Katie Holmes
- Cillian Murphy
- Tom Wilkinson
- Ken Watanabe
- Morgan Freeman
That’s…pretty much the entire cast, outside of Gary Oldman. Very impressive, especially when you’re trying to sell the game as a natural companion to the movie. Combine that with fairly passable graphics for the time (and widescreen support, sheeeeit!) and I could totally see picking this game up as an impulse purchase on the way home from seeing the film. Of course, if you were smart enough to buy the game at launch, you’d notice that the game actually includes a ticket to see the movie for free…too bad they expired in 2005. I should try to use one just to see the look on the cashier’s face…and probably receive a punch to my own for my troubles. The package, as a hole, really sells itself as a product of Nolan’s vision of Batman…unless you count the incredibly verbose NPCs in the game. They vomit endless walls of nonsense at every turn, which is generously replayed each time you’ve walked yourself into a death trap. Still, I guess I can ignore petty bitching from video game villains if the light at the end of the tunnel is hearing Christian Bale yell, in all sincerity, “WHERE ARE THE RABBITS!?”
This is another situation similar to Blade…I absolutely love the movie itself, and even if I have to ignore the sandwich artist putting mayo on it, even though I explicitly said five fucking times that I don’t want mayo, I’ll eat it if the rest is good enough to justify it. Sure, I’ll swear at the TV four out of five times when I die during another bout of trial & error, but on the fifth…when I whup everyone’s ass and pull a totally Batman moment…I SWEAR TO ME!