torstai 1. joulukuuta 2011

REVIEW - Batman: Vengeance (2001)

GENRE(S): Action
RELEASED: October 2001

The New Batman Adventures was a follow-up to Batman - The Animated Series, and it actually came before Batman Beyond, but its influence lasted longer. The New Batman Adventures was seen as a new version of the critically acclaimed animated series, with a renewed art style, radical changes in some age-old character designs, and increased focus on the supporting characters and villains of the franchise. With the popularity of the original animated series still at optimum, the show outlived its usefulness and ran out of fresh ideas in just a year, but its style remained exploitable. In late 2001, a PS2 game based on The New Batman Adventures called Batman: Vengeance emerged. Just a month later, it came out on the Game Boy Advance, and within a year, it had been released on every major platform of the era. None of the versions that were made garnered in too much praise, though. The Game Boy Advance version in particular was yet another feeble attempt at recreating the magic of Sunsoft's Batman on a Nintendo system.

Another stepping stone on the long way to Arkham

SOUNDS simple enough.
The Joker fakes his own death and frames Batman for an attack against Commissioner Gordon to keep him busy until he has finished his elaborate plan to utterly destroy Gotham City by fire.

I have no beef with The New Batman Adventures. Actually, I have no solid opinion on it at all. Perhaps it was too similar to Batman - The Animated Series to generate any feelings either way. Only 24 episodes were made, which has led me to temptation to watch the whole thing and see what happens several times, but I've never got around to it. Perhaps I will some day, but this game surely doesn't make me one step more eager to get started.

The game looks very basic, I think they could've squeezed a little more life out of the Game Boy Advance considering all first-party games that had already come out during the handheld's first year on the market. The puzzle levels with Robin look downright ugly for the most part. The music captures the Batman spirit a little better than the few previous games related to the franchise, especially Batman Beyond which was also published by Ubi, but as far as general quality is concerned, it's not much more than twitchy, repetitive and annoying.

Rooftops of desolation.
In style, the Game Boy Advance version is somewhat of a return to the roots of the Batman game; the standard platforming levels are very reminiscent of Sunsoft's Batman games and Konami's The Adventures of Batman & Robin on the SNES. However, the level design in Batman: Vengeance is extremely boring, to the point it feels like the levels wrap, for eternity. The first level seems to go on forever, and it's followed by a near-identical one. There are many different types of levels beyond that, besides the standard side-scrollers; Batmobile and Batplane levels, boss fights, and Eggerland-ish puzzles which star Robin, but they all repeat themselves by quite a lot, and there's plenty of wrong with all of them. Batman: Vengeance is like a test, an ensemble of ideas - Ubisoft tries to make at least one of them work, to perhaps stick with that in their upcoming games, but they got nothing absolutely right. I hate the vehicle stages in particular for numerous reasons, most of all the time limit and the all-around bad controls which pretty much culminate in the vehicle controls.

The game's quality is thoroughly explained in the very beginning. Batman moves awkwardly, his stiff punches have short range, and his jump/glide ability lacks both reaction speed and precision - you will find yourself sent screaming into a bottomless pit on a 30 second interval. You know, in most games you're prompted to go as close to an edge as you possibly can to be able to jump over an intimidating gap. Well, in Batman: Vengeance, even if you're inches away from the gap, just one tiny adjusting step forward might be interpreted by the game as "I don't know why, but I just want to jump right down this gap." Batman's ambitious movement when he makes that step right into the gap looks like suicide's in his standard gameplay repertoire. I looked into this issue, and the game is actually programmed so that Batman will fall into a gap if he stands on an edge for more than a second or two. Facepalm. I'm sincerely speechless.

And here I was thinking Batman mixed with
GTA type of controls and perspective could
be fun.
If you get over some subtleties - such as Alfred sometimes calling Batman "Batman" instead of "Sir" or "Master Bruce", which he has never done to my recollection - you will find Batman: Vengeance a moderately authentic piece of Bat-merch, and that is by far the only reason to keep playing this boring game. It's a frustrating game in its own way, since it's so dull despite of having such a wide variety of different levels on paper, but it's not a difficult one. A simple password exists for every level, and there are unlimited continues. Players able to bear the game will surely beat it quite quick, but being able to bear the game pretty much means you have to have absolutely nothing else to do.

I guess Batman: Vengeance is not a totally bad game, and I also guess people who are dedicated fans of The New Batman Adventures show and really into its take on the franchise will get some light entertainment out of it. To me, it's yet another failure - not from the absolutely worst end, but nothing I'd be glad to touch twice.

SOUND : 6.0


GameRankings: 68.37% (GBA), 71.62% (GCN), 56.15% (PC), 71.51% (PS2), 64.83% (Xbox)

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