Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Batman Video Game Retrospective Part 2

Welcome back to my retrospective of the past of Batman in video games. If you missed it last time, I’m going over the majority of Batman in video games.

With the new Millennium we’ve gotten quite a few new Batman games and you’d think that as time progresses Batman games would get better and better. Sadly it seems after Batman Forever that Batman wasn’t going to have as wide an array of great games anymore.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)

Based off of one of my favorite animated films of all time, it’s odd to see that while this got a video game other Batman Animated films didn’t get a movie. Mask of the Phantasm would have made a great video game, and who knows what else could have really worked well.

Sadly I haven’t gotten a chance to play this game. After some Youtube clips I can see it looks like a standard N64 game with some meh graphics and basic gameplay. This is fairly disappointing but what makes it worse is that Ubisoft, a fairly competent game company developed this. Sure their nothing really all that great but they can do better than this.

Batman Beyond’s first video game was also it’s last. With any luck we may see the futuristic Batman saving the world sooner than later. It’s a dream, but you can’t blame me.

Batman: Chaos in Gotham (2001)

A simple looking Gameboy Color game. I honestly can’t say much on it but I’m mentioning it as it seems to be the first game with Batgirl as a playable character. With a few copies up on ebay for about 10 bucks, I’m tempted to pick it up just to see if it’s a worthwhile game. Also I’m curious to see if the two main protagonists’ gameplay differ at all.

It’s based around Batman: the Animated Series and that boosts my desire to try it out. Sadly it sounds like a fairly simple beat ‘em up game, as if Batman doesn’t have enough of those by now. While I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at least a decent game for now I think it’s a safe bet to just check it out if you’re really itching for some Batman handheld.

Batman: Gotham City Racer (2001)

Batman…got a racing game. My mind just blew up. I’m sorry but when I think characters that could have a cool racing game, Batman is about the last character that comes to mind. While I’ll give them credit for trying something different than the typical beat ‘em up, this just….wow.

Batman Vengeance (2001)

Seems 2001 was a busy year for the Caped Crusader in video games. This was the only home console one though and much to my surprise it was based off of the Batman animated series once again. I appreciate that it seems the developers did an all right job adapting Timm’s designs again.

The graphics look laughably bad even for being 8 years ago as the designs are flat and bland. Also character animations are pitiful for the what the systems could accomplish at the time. I know these where the earlier days of the last generation but for a PS2 game this looks like something the N64 could pull off.

Many of the voice actors from Batman: The Animated series reprise their roles and they do a good job as expected of them but with the poor character movement it sort of spoils the good voice acting. The story also doesn’t seem half bad and even is okay.

This game has received fairly mixed reviews, some have enjoyed it and I can see why as it looks like an all right game as far as controls and gameplay are concerned. Though it had it’s detractions such as a lmited amount of what you could do and a poor camera.

While this was the first major console game of the new millennium (Return of the Joker being a mediocre movie game after all) it also seems to have been the best so far seeing as the next few games didn’t really improve much if anything.

I’m tempted to at least check it out for Gamecube or something as it looks like a solid game. Also it’s probably real cheap by now, especially if I can find a Used version.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)

Much more panned by it’s critics, this game really doesn’t look all that interesting for me. While the graphics look to be a lot better and the story sounds fairly good the game has been described as boring, repetitive and with an even worse camera. I’ll be avoiding ever picking this up and I suggest you do the same.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2004)

Returning to being more based around Batman the Animated Series, this game has been fairly mixed when in comparison to Dark Tomorrow. Rather than go with the Joker or Ra’s Al Ghul for the main villain we get Sin Tzu, some brand new guy out of nowhere that never really becomes a worthwhile or interesting villain.

The graphics are a lot better, while still a bit bland, and the character animations are miles ahead. Amazing the kind of leap they created in 3 years. The story was also much better and the voice actors from the Animated Series returned as they once again turned in good work.

Still with such mixed reviews ,some enjoying it and others downright hating it I can’t really say this is a huge improvement over the last 2 games. Also it’s yet another basic beat ‘em up game, by now the fans where dying for something fresh and new as you can only recycle the same formula so many times.

While at least it looks better I don’t think that could justify picking this up over Batman Vengeance which was the very least seems to have more enjoyable gameplay.

Batman Begins (2005)

It’s another damn movie game, do you really think it’s going to be good? After Batman Forever I gave up on there ever being a good Movie Game even from Batman. Now unlike the last few games I have played Batman Begins and I hated every minute of it.

While it’s not as bad or stupid as Batman Forever or Dark Tomorrow it just tries to be so many other video games and fails miserably. It does try to incorporate some more interesting challenges other than running from one point to the other and fighting enemies it doesn’t really do much with what its’ got.

While the game looks pretty good the controls are mediocre at best and handle poorly while the action is boring and I can’t find one single moment from this game that I played where I was honestly having fun. Maybe it’s a little ironic that with the 90’s Batman movie it had an incredible game, whereas with the 2000’s new Batman movie it mad a mediocre game.

I could rant for paragraphs about how this game doesn’t live up to the standard of the enjoyable Batman Begins film but really it’s a typical movie game. That alone should tell you it’s bad.

Lego Batman (2008)

Undeniably a game made mostly for kids, but that’s not a bad thing. In today’s gaming market you either have the hardcore games kids shouldn’t be allowed to play (but their idiotic mothers buy them anyway without reading the rating) or stupid shovel ware crap that could put a kid to sleep. So it’s nice to see a game that meets the youth halfway with fun level design and kid friendly gameplay.

While I’ve only played it a little bit I can tell you that it’s a fun game that I highly recommend if you’ve got kids who love Batman and obviously shouldn’t be playing Arkham Asylum. It’s got very solid gameplay, simple design but it looks good still and even with there being no real story I still think it’s a great game for parents to play with their kids, it’s fun for all ages so even mom and dad can have fun as their kid schools them in how to beat up Lego thugs.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

If you want my in depth thoughts on the game then click here, though this will be more a of a mini review of the demo I played recently.

This is the first time I’ve ever really felt like Batman, all prior gaming experiences while have had their high points as the Dark Knight have never really made me feel like I was under the cowl doing these things that I’ve read him doing over all these years. Everything from combat, to swinging by Batarang and taking out armed enemies feels so amazingly immersive and real.

Of course the combat isn’t perfect, when there are several enemies it’s very easy to get blindsided often but that is to be expected. Luckily you can do more than just punch the baddies, you can also do counter attacks to keep your health meter safe and then perform a combo of punches to take out an enemy nice and smoothly. It handles very well.

Luckily this game is far from a beat ‘em up like what we’ve gotten a little too used to with Batman over the years. While combat is a crucial point to this game even more so is sneaking up and taking out enemies. With the help of your Detective vision in the Cowl you can see armed enemies and take them out from behind which is a really brilliant idea as to how Batman would work. It also is nice to see Batman can’t run in guns ablazing and taking out everyone with little problem. Showing he is a human that has to work methodically.

There’s a wide variety of things you can do, crouch around and sneak while taking enemies from behind. You can down from a gargoyle and pick up an enemy just to drop him several feet to his death. It’s all really creative and fun stuff and it really puts you into the experience.

As far as complaints are concerned I didn’t like how you have no jump ability. It’s odd that Batman can’t jump as it could be a helpful thing when in a sticky situation. Also Batman easily gets caught on something like a chair or a half pulled out door that you’d think he could run around. Rather he gets stuck and runs in place and it looks rather funny.

The voice actors do a great job, as expected of such masters when it comes to their roles. The dialogue is solid and never feels like typical dumb game chatter like what you’d hear in a Resident Evil game or something. It’s all interesting and important stuff that Dini writes well.

As for the designs, I can’t honestly say I like Harley’s new look. I understand it’s more realistic and fits with the darker tone of the game but there’s something that just comes off as stupid about the design. Everything else though with the other characters works well, I especially like Killer Croc’s design.

This is a good looking game that will hopefully impress as much as the demo did and looks to be a must have for any longtime or new Batman fans.

So that’s it for my thoughts/retrospective on Batman over the years in video games. From home computers to Arkham Asylum, even when he’s giving us some total crap Batman will always have a place in the heart of gamers. So let’s go pick up our controls and kick that Joker’s ass!

No comments: