Where does Batman begin? We could say that he begins at the soles of his feet, and he ends at the little pointy bat ears on the top of his costume. Or we could get philosophical and say he begins deep within his dark and enigmatic soul, and he ends at the same place in Mobius strip fashion. In the real world, however, he begins on the silver screen and he ends up on mugs, alarm clocks, towels, T-shirts and of course video games.
This is EA’s Xbox licence of the movie and it follows the film plot-wise as far as we’re aware, though we need to place a slight disclaimer here as we haven’t actually seen the flick yet. If, like us, you haven’t seen the film, the game’s plot seems under-developed and it doesn’t make much sense in places. It’s bitty and skips from scene to scene in a most unsatisfactory manner, the interspersed video clips from the motion picture only adding a little flavour.
In terms of the actual gameplay, it’s a little like our caped crusading friend Bruce Wayne, in that it’s something of an internal struggle between good and evil. Batman Begins is an action adventure with the emphasis on combat and this facet of the game is well fleshed out. Leaping into the midst of a circle of bad guys and ‘Poww’-ing and ‘Whamm’-ing them into next week is not only entertaining but very intuitive.
There’s a punch and a kick button, with different combo moves possible, plus special moves you can execute to finish a low-health opponent off. What’s also a smart idea is that enemies have a fear gauge, and the more you scare them, for example by using your batarang to cut a rope and drop a crate almost on their heads, the easier they are to take care of.
Batman Begins boasts a healthy variance in its gameplay, in that as well as the fighting there are puzzle bits, sections where Batman’s stealth ability is called upon, and you even get to take the wheel of the Batmobile and smash through traffic with reckless abandon. However, whilst all this is laudable, the game suffers terribly due to its linearity and the large level of dumbing down present.
Basically, you walk into a room and every point of interest is highlighted. If there’s a pipe to burst to scare the baddies, it’s immediately shown and there’s no real thought needed on the player’s part. It’s obvious what you have to do and there aren’t any hidden secrets or tactical elements, which in the end is deeply unsatisfying. The puzzles are pretty pointless as a result, and your path through the levels is completely linear and channelled.
Company: Electronic Arts