Now I want to see the cartoon...
PlayStation 38.50
Overall 8.50
                   Batman battles…mans

   I am not a fan of Batman. I have not even seen the Dark Knight. The only Batman comic I have read was a recent one involving a penguin, a hypocritical policeman—and not Batman. Well maybe he was there hanging upside down in someone’s closet, but I didn’t really notice him. It wasn’t very enjoyable. It was very gruff, but not very noir. However because I am a modern gamer and I saw that Batman was scoring 10s everywhere so I had to get it. That and the fact it was $30. Australian dollars. Which is about $10 American dollars so it was really cheap!

   I was expecting it to be another GTAIV. Great production values, crap game. At first it seemed like it might be. There was some very well produced, but long winded introduction doing Half-Life 2 cutscenes better than Half-Life 2. (Which admittedly isn’t hard.) Joker wasn’t as likeable as Jack Nicholson. Then all of a sudden Joker esc apes (what a surprise) and Batman jumps through a window to chase after him. You might think jumping through windows is one of Bat’s superpowers, but considering he never does it again I’ll call it a fluke.

   The combat began. Press square. And sometimes triangle. That’s all there is to it! The combo system is pretty much useless early on to, as timing your attacks is not very useful when you can do a similar amount of damage by button mashing. Which is what the whole system is based around. Oh, but sometimes there are more advanced enemies where you have to press another button once before you start button mashing, so it’s not all bad. And to be fair, it’s kinda fun, but such a simple system really bit the game in the Batcave in terms of set pieces and bosses. As awesome as it would in theory be to beat up one of the many supervillains you’re chasing after, the simple fact is it would suck in practice. Hit square in time—game goes into slow motion—maybe hit circle if necessary; doesn’t sound like much of a boss battle does it? And when you are carefully timing your attacks the slo-mo can be very disorientating; thus ruining your timing if you don’t want to button mash.

   So maybe it’s understandable that 90% of all the boss battles consist of you fighting against some body builder with his spine coming out of his back. Sometimes you get to fight two at once! Talk about variety! Yes, that is as awesome as it sounds. Which is not very awesome—though it does sound awesome what with the fantastic sound effects and music.  Looks great too. Except for the pustules. That’s just unnecessary detail.

   Hell the first boss you fight ends with the poor guy having a migraine attack and fainting. Speaking of fainting; what with Batman being a gallant hero and all he cannot kill anyone. But on the bright side he can give them brain damage, make them paralytics, and lock them up in a hell hole for the rest of their lives. But maybe he’s just not capable of killing them. Batman’s super powers consist of staring coldly, and shouting “WHERE ARE THE DRUGS?!” in a deep voice. Which disappointingly he never shouted.

   Okay this sounds really negative—but hell the start of the game was really negative. It was kinda fun, but never really hit its stride. Then I saw a sculpture. Batman likes to shoot sculptures then sit on top of them, biding time before he floats down booting a henchman in their face then suffocating them in a matter of milliseconds before he flies away again. Oh yeah, stealth baby! All of a sudden instead of button mashing I was flying around kicking people, planting explosive traps (I thought shrapnel could kill people even if it is a small explosion! But maybe Batman is using super explosives…which should logically kill more people!) and setting up traps as elaborate as the joker’s whole persona. You thought that simile was bad? Play the game.

   The stealth is wonderful, and just gets better and better as you go along. There’s just one problem with it. There’s just not enough.  The game seems to like its variety. One moment you’re ridding a room of 10 henchmen through stealth, then next you’re beating them all up, and the next you’re fighting some poor schizophrenic who just wants you to hug him or give him some Prozac. Maybe both.  I’m all for variety, but except for the stealth, none of the other aspects quite go far enough to do anything but remind you that you could be fucking stealthing people to dea---err---unconsciousness.

   Which leaves the game with one other major thing it got absolutely right, and never deviated from: exploration and detail. There are riddles to solve (which aren’t really riddles) trophies to find (which you wouldn’t want to add to your cabinet) and messages left by a deranged fat man (not from Thomas the Tank Engine). And finding them is a blast. You’ll enjoy scouring every little patch of the game for these prizes because it’s also pretty and atmospheric, and there’s a real sense of satisfaction in tracking them all down. Well, there would be if you didn’t accidentally pick up an item that revealed where all of them are on the map that you cannot turn off so that you immediately know where everything is! Ugh. Oh, and if you die, they also like to tell you while Joker mocks you, exactly why you did and how to not die. Now, this seems a little patronizing. Especially when Batman is the world’s greatest detective.

   Then again, he quips at one point that: ‘it pays to be prepared’. It sure does! Imagine how much time he would have saved if he’d actually taken all his gadgets with him when he first got to the Batcave. He could have stopped Joker in a matter of seconds! So many less people would have died. Well at least when he flies off at the end after another supervillain he’ll have everything he needs.

             WHERE IS THE SPECTACLE???

   It’s quite clear that the devs are huge fans of Metroid and Metal Gear Solid. The item collecting, and upgrade progression follows the Metroid path. It doesn’t quite do it as well, though. In Metroid you have to find your equipment. Sure it’s kinda silly in and of itself (and makes no sense), but it’s a much better gameplay mechanic and gives you more satisfaction than “I advanced the plot far enough to be given this item so that I can advance it further.” As for Metal Gear Solid two words: Scarecrow. They’re not quite as good as Metal Gear Solid’s moments of madness, but boy are they pretty! Pretty, fun and overall nicely paced. I won’t say anything more because that’ll ruin the surprise. Oh, and they also like The Darkness. There’s a famous scene in the Scarecrow parts that is much like a famous scene in The Darkness. And like that famous scene in the darkness it’s really not all that great. And unlike The Darkness instead of repeating graffiti, they repeat Easter eggs. It might have been nicer to the dev team include photos of more than a few people. Egotistical bastards!

   But as I said earlier, once you’ve made your way through an area and built up a nice bit of momentum and you’ve psyched yourself up for a boss battle you don’t want to fight a bunch of henchmen instead. Once again, though, I understand this is the fault of the battle system—but it just makes its flaws all the more annoying. Hell a stealth boss battle would have been FREAKING awesome! And no, scarecrow doesn’t count. What were the lights about by the way? Seriously.

   Maybe it makes sense, but as I said I wasn’t a batman fan. Now I almost am! They nailed the atmosphere of Batman wonderfully. Well, as far as I’m aware. But going by Batman films and other comic books, they did a wonderful job. At first I didn’t like the hammy voice acting, and the stupid and offensive morality—but then I realised something. The supervillains were all sympathetic characters! They were all a bunch of mentally ill people who couldn’t cope with the world, and became supervillains so that they could, just as Batman became a superhero. Hell, most of them seem like a bunch of nice guys! Even Zsasz who would be right at home in something like I Heart Huckabees. And that would’ve made the film so much more awesome. He’d slit their throats and they’d bleed to death wondering if they were actually dying. So cool!

   All the non-super characters seemed quite unsympathetic to me. They were all vengeful (and without as much reason as the super-characters) egotistical, selfish and un-empathetic douchebags. And of course the game dealt swiftly in the easiest way possible with any moral dilemmas. There are some normal people doing bad things in the game, but very luckily they are killed off so Batman doesn’t have to make any tough judgments. Except for that Arkham guy which the game leaves hanging (not literally, which would’ve been a good way to kill him off!) and once again drops the ball when there could be an awesome climax. I ran all the way to where the guy should’ve run off to try and make me join him in his conquest, hoping that there’d be some awesome confrontation. There was not. I was just meant to scan something and get a trophy.

   But you know what? I think I could get into this whole comic book thing. Unless like Blackhawks it’s really just a well put together propaganda piece encouraging children to join the military, or help coerce their older brothers into doing so. God that comic makes me so angry! Where’s that damn Titan? I’m coming for you Obama!

   I understand you probably want a satisfying climax to this review, but I’m gonna make like a Batman and not give you one.


                 WHERE ARE THE DRUGS???

  Fine, there you go. Looks like I’m a better person than he is (probably a better superhero too!). Oh, and there’s like a bunch of fan service consisting of profiles and interviews (which could have been better used to build up a battle with each of the characters—but considering there was never really a battle—their not always great placement wasn’t too bad) and on top of that on the menu screen you can perv on Bat’s manly pectorals.

   Now excuse me while I go ruin a criminal’s life in the name of justice. Or just have sex with Robin. (Where the hell was he? No wonder Bats acted so cold and lonely.)
Posted by Foolz Wed, 07 Apr 2010 04:49:58
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Wed, 07 Apr 2010 11:30:13

Where did you find this for $30 AU $$?

That was an entertaining review Foolz, you are the master.  But damn, the game sounds terrible.  But you liked it enough to give it an 8.5...  Since I am a fan of the dev (but too tired to remember their name), I still want to try this one, especially if I can find it for 30 lira.

I caught a bit of the 89 Batman movie the other day, it is so much better than I remember it -- and now that I'm an adult I actually get the lines that went over my head before.  Jack Nicholson is, well, great, and so is Keaton.  Not as good as Buster Keaton.  I wonder how he'd play Batman?  He'd make a better penguin, but then who wouldn't compared to Danny fucking DeVito.  

Wed, 07 Apr 2010 12:43:06!

It sounds a bit worse than it really is. The core gameplay just kinda pissed me off, but it's probably not as big a problem as I made it out to be. It's definitely a more than a sum of its parts game for me, though. Major flaws, but in the end still a lot of fun once you get passed them.

That and I really was kinda disappointed that they didn't do some more really cool things.

At the very least it's worth playing for the scarecrow moments, though.

Don't kill me Vader! Sad
Wed, 07 Apr 2010 15:07:02
Foolz(3h) forced me to comment.
Wed, 07 Apr 2010 15:09:08
To attain more evidence that you are alive, for I am the world's greatest detective and attain evidence is what I do.

I'll see you in court.
Wed, 07 Apr 2010 19:33:12
An entire review and not one mention of the mission mode which I believe is even better than the campaign. You haven't even begun to explore the gameplay until you master the missions.

Anyway game is phenomenal, one of the best this gen.
Wed, 07 Apr 2010 21:19:01
^There is a mission mode separate from the campaign?  Is it online?
Thu, 08 Apr 2010 00:43:22
No its selectable from the main menu. Ten stealth missions and ten combat missions, a few free DLC ones as well. To master them takes much practice and badassery.
Thu, 08 Apr 2010 04:08:47
Do you mean challenge mode? (I don't remember there being a mission mode.)

The fact that it's not online, but you have to be signed into PSN means it's instant-fail.

Unless you're not referring to challenge mode.
Thu, 08 Apr 2010 04:18:32
Yeah challenge mode, you need to be signed in? Weird.

Thu, 08 Apr 2010 04:29:27
I think it's probably because of the rankings. The same thing happens with Mirror's Edge speed runs; can't do it offline from what I remember.

I would have played it before writing the review, but my internet is slowed and I had not updated. Thus the instant-fail of making things like that, though. Nyaa
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