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Holy video games, Batman!

by Kenny Lindsay

Batman Begins, published by Electronic Arts, wastes no time throwing the player into an immediate frenzy of hand-to-hand combat and head-bashing action and, in comparison to the movie ‘– well’… the cheese slipped off this cracker. Rather than playing up the dramatic storyline of the cinematic feature, this title bores the player with inane game play and puzzles that may or may not increase a pre-schooler’s motor skills. Even though the game is rated Teen, it appears to target a very young audience.

The whole premise of Batman Begins is to instill fear in your enemies. After all, fear is the mind killer. Sneaking up on thugs with stealthy attacks, knocking over scaffolding and, my favorite, dropping a giant electromagnetic crane on some poor saps who are just trying to make a buck, are all really good ways to increase the masked crusader’s terrifying reputation. The higher Batman’s handy dandy fear-o-meter gizmo goes up, the easier it is to knock heads. Interrogating criminals also heightens the fear factor and adds some sadistic entertainment. As the Dark Knight holds a bad guy up by his neck the player is given the option to either finish him or continue brutalizing the punk by punching him in the gut until he spills the beans. I’m going to leave out the Robin jokes on this one, but at one point, during a violent interview, a guy admitted that he wears women’s underpants. And if humiliating and torturing the victim isn’t enough, a fabulous finishing move is required in order to put him down.

The most exciting parts of this game (humor aside) are the Batmobile levels. In its most pure and raw form, this beastly chunk of metal tears up the streets of Gotham City and gives chase to a rig full of drugs. The control response is quick; the sound of the engine is glass shattering and just when the fun is getting started it stops. Then it’s back to wandering through a maze of buildings.

The bonus features are as common as they are useless. One of which is The Gallery of Fear: Batman can pay a visit to some of the guys he busted and learn a couple fun facts about their history of violence. This is a wonderful feature as it makes singing ‘“Jingle bells, Batman smells’” throughout the bulk of the game that much more enjoyable. The old bat suits are unlockable, interviews about the movie are included, and the only two levels with the Batmobile can be unlocked as well.

EA did do a nice job of portraying Gotham as it appeared in the movie,, but it really doesn’t help the game play much. The sound effects could have been a little stronger as to wash out the ‘“Kapow! Crack! Baf!’” followed by ‘“robin laid an egg’” that stuck in my head. The voices of the original actors are also included in the sequence and the music is very much like the original score of the movie.

The challenge factor is mediocre and it’s mostly about timing. The rest of the game is spent running around and climbing in a monkey-like fashion.

All in all the game is tolerable and playing such a renowned super hero as Batman is always memorable. But, after playing King Kong and being so impressed by the stride it made with the movie-to-game genre, I was a little disappointed.

To comment on this column, e-mail Kenny Lindsay at kenny@yesweekly.com.

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