Review by Ninjak

Reviewed: 10/26/01 | Updated: 10/26/01

Better than Acclaim's Batman and Robin!

After enduring the last few sad excuses for Batman games (including the mediocre Catwoman game on Gameboy Color) my anticipation for this title was even lower than an Army Men game. After all it was only last year when Kemco released a poor effort in the form of Batman Beyond, widely considered to be one of the worst playstation and Nintendo64 games released in 2000. This time around however the game is being made by Ubi-Soft, makers of the excellent Rayman series. With their talent they managed to finally come up with a good, solid game with the Batman license.

During his nightly patrol of the city, Batman saves a woman bound and gagged and just a few minutes away from death from a nearby bomb. The woman claims her name is Mary Flynn and that the Joker kidnapped her son Toby, demanding $5 million for his safe return.
A quick check through the computers in the Batcave reveal that Mary wasn't officially in existence until a week ago, something that arouses suspicion in the Dark Knight. It's not long before the truth is revealed and Batman is trying to stop a series of plans from an unknown source that threatens to destroy the entire city.

If you want to get to the bottom of this mystery your going to have to work your way through 19 levels of fist fighting and building hopping. Of course this wouldn't be a Batman game without those wonderful toys of his and this game has it's share of them: nets, grappling hooks, stunners, smoke bombs, bat cuffs, and the infamous batarang. When selected most of these items change your view to a first person perspective where you can aim and walk while hoisting the weapon.

A cool use for the batarang is aiming it at a thug's gun and disarming them, forcing them to fight you in hand to hand combat. When you and an enemy get into a 1-on-1 fight, your other opponents back away and politely watch you two square off. Fights start off easy but by the end of the game they can get hard because the cpu AI gets tougher and faster, faster than you can ever be. There are special moves Batman can use that makes the battles A LOT easier but I didn't even know about them until after I finished the game! After beating up your opponent they'll fall to the ground and get up ready for another round against you unless you cuff them with your bat cuffs. I know some people think the battle system is too simplistic since it's no more than block, punch, punch, kick but I think it's just fine for this type of game. After all the last time someone tried to make a battle system as complicated as something like Tekken we got Batman & Robin (**spits**).

Levels are usually big and have you using your grappling hook to reach new heights, solving a few simple puzzles and taking out some of the henchmen guarding the area. A few times during the game Batman will take other means to bring villains to justice such as chasing them on a crowded highway with the Bat-Copter, getting into a high speed chase in the Batmobile, and even bungie jumping...sorta.

Yeah these are all good but they don't make up for the single greatest flaw of the levels, for the most part you'll be jumping across buildings and finding accessible areas rather than fighting enemies or doing detective work. When I finished the game and replayed it with the infinite ammo cheat I was disappointed that I didn't get nearly enough chances to use all of my gizmos and gadgets on enemies, there weren't enough of them populating the levels. Also like another superhero game, Spiderman on psx, you don't really have to fight the enemies to finish most of the levels. Most of the time you can simply run by them with no problem, even the ones that carry guns can easily be avoided as long you don't run in a straight line.

Graphics (9+) & Sound (7+)
Bruce Wayne must have funded this game's development to make it look this good. Screen shots do not do it justice! Only when seen in action can the ultra smooth graphics and vividly animated environments truly be appreciated.
I do wish Ubi Soft used the much cooler character designs from the old Batman series in the early 90's rather than base it off the last one on KidsWB. They don't look bad it's just that little nit picky features on the characters were omitted like Mr. Freeze's red eyes and Batman's logo is altered, that and everyone, the women especially, became a whole lot skinnier.
They did get the same actors who voiced the characters from the tv show and the result is some great scenes especially the ones that the Joker is in. The first time you fight him he is swinging on a giant wrecking ball back and forth singing Gotham bridge is falling down while laughing maniacally.

The only sore spot in the graphics comes from the villainous jaggie edges that seem to become more numerous as the game progresses.
The sound is burdened by the usually so-so music.

Gameplay--7
With several decently done styles of play (as described above) and smooth controls, Batman Vengeance is the best playing Batman game in years. Take that for what it's worth. I wasn't satisfied with some parts though such as the level where you use the batplane; you can shoot at the runaway helicopter your chasing down but frankly it doesn't matter because you can't shoot it down and have to follow it to a preset destination.
The boss battles make up for some of the shortcomings. They're creative encounters where you have to usually use your batarang to find your opponent's weak point.

Challenge--6+
Trying to find your way through the levels is an adventure itself as you'll die many deaths from falling off of buildings while trying to find the correct route to the end of the level. While this can be frustrating it's nothing that can't be done after a few continues.
There are puzzles in the game but most of them are really simple so you don't have to worry about being stuck one part of the game for too long.

There are also no difficulty levels---why?

Replay Value--4
The developers added in cheats you can find and you can always replay the levels to improve your score but I was looking for something different, something better. Something like multiple pathways, different endings, even difficulty levels would have been nice.

Final Verdict: Un-averaged score of 7
Despite it's problems Batman Vengeance is still worthy of your time and while I don't regret buying it, most people will be content with a rental as you can easily finish the game in a 5 day period.
For what it's worth I'd rank this as the 3rd best Batman game ever, behind the original NES version and The Adventures of Batman and Robin on SNES.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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