RELEASED: June 2005
AVAILABLE ON: GBA, GCN, PS2, Xbox
DEVELOPER(S): Eurocom Entertainment Software, Vicarious Visions (GBA)
PUBLISHER(S): EA Games
The original Batman movie franchise was very thankfully laid to rest after 1997's Batman & Robin, the fourth film which was all but mockery towards the first two, with the previous Batman Forever just crossing the line of watchable thanks to a good cast that saved the awkward script. Warner Bros. planned to reboot the franchise in a few years, but they just couldn't get any actual work done on the project. Around 2003, Christopher Nolan, the screenwriter and director of the unique and critically acclaimed psychological thriller Memento, took the bait and started to work on a whole new Batman film together with screenwriter and serious comic book buff David S. Goyer. The result was Batman Begins, and it came in the summer of 2005 to blow off some heads. It was immediately recognized as perhaps the greatest superhero movie ever made, and it wasn't only out to please comic book fans, but movie buffs of all ages, partly thanks to its ensemble cast of award-winning actors which included Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Rutger Hauer and Gary Oldman. The release of the Batman Begins video game coincided with the movie's release, and although reception to the game was surprisingly all right, it wasn't exactly deemed a winner. The Game Boy Advance version was non-surprisingly a side-scrolling, simplified version of the game, and this version at least is not one of the most essential Bat-games out there.
Watch the movie, seriously
When he was a child, multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne's parents were shot to death by a mugger before his eyes. During the next decade, the corruption of Gotham City brought him to a boiling point. Bruce left Gotham City and travelled the world, learning the ways of criminals and how they think. After years spent in exile, Bruce returns to Gotham with a whole new ambition. With the help of his ever loyal butler, a high-tech engineer at Wayne Enterprises, and perhaps the only good cop in Gotham City, Bruce begins to spread fear in the criminal underground under his new secret identity of Batman.
I was hesitant to begin to work on this game before watching Batman Begins for the first time in a few years - just to have a good excuse and base to see The Dark Knight for only the third (!) time. So many superhero films have emerged during this century, based on well-known favourites such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Superman and X-Men, as well as cult comics such as Watchmen. Although many of the films have been absolutely great - and some of them, absolute garbage - none of the films have received such unified praise as Christopher Nolan's takes on Batman. Although there's something a little off about both movies, they're works of art, notably different from all the other superhero films, totally fresh and surprising takes on the subject but at the same time, closest to Bob Kane's vision of Batman as you can possibly get by ways of live action. These two blockbusters proved, once again, that Batman is the most consistently surprising, interesting and exploitable superhero there ever was - the best there was, the best there is and the best there ever will be. A third movie's coming, and I can't wait to see it. The popularity of Nolan's movies was very likely the driving force behind the development of the Arkham video game series. Batman Begins will most likely - and hopefully - remain the only video game directly licensed off Nolan's trilogy.
|The camera ain't your friend.|
The graphics are quite good and ultra-horrid at the same time. The sprites and their movement are rendered quite OK, they look realistic enough on the Advance scale. Also, I silently bow Vicarious Visions for resorting to cutscenes in the style of a comic book instead of the usual non-contextual screenshots from the movie that these licensed games on the Game Boy Advance usually have, or screenshots and subtitles which explain the whole movie like Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones had. The cutscenes do not look too good, though, and the portraits used in the in-game dialogue look absolutely horrible. Michael Caine looks like Jabba the Hutt. The music has enough atmosphere to live up to the name of the game, but it's still quite boring, and those expecting any slight references to Hans Zimmer's phenomenal work in the movie are in for a disappointment.
|Neeson has a nice haircut and Bruce looks |
like a ten-year old.
There are only eight levels in the game and still it feels like it goes on forever. The prologue level is very short, but in turn, the second level which focuses on Bruce's past is extremely long and it lacks many essential checkpoints. It's like a test of the player's patience after a stiff, but perfectly playable start, and I'd not be surprised at all if someone would just give up after failing the last part of the level enough times; escaping from the burning monastery is extremely frustrating in itself, and upon failing that, you need to beat the previous boss over and over again until you manage to beat him and the rest of the level in perfect succession. The game has a lot of awkward moments with even more awkward checkpoints, it certainly doesn't stop there. The next true test of the player's will in a similar vein comes quite a bit later, though - everything in between is relatively playable, double that if you're a serious Batman fan.
|Bruce Wayne. Also known as Patrick Bateman, |
John Connor, Alfred Borden and Trevor
Batman Begins is not the worst licensed game out there, especially not in the company of several Game Boy Advance titles I can't even mention by name anymore, but it's far from a satisfying game. They could've made a game just like Sunsoft's Batman was back in the day, with no huge overhauls at all; hell, the enemies could've exploded like they did in that game, whatever. Although I would've bitched about a lot of things, I would've at least enjoyed the simple gameplay. There's just too much fancy stuff in this game that all goes to waste, and Batman seriously would not have become the greatest superhero in history if he was really this damn slow.
GRAPHICS : 6.8
SOUND : 6.5
PLAYABILITY : 6.5
LIFESPAN : 6.0
CONCLUSION : 6.4
GameRankings: 62.14% (GBA), 66.92% (GCN), 65.75% (PS2), 67.32% (Xbox)
Pandemic Studios was working on an open-world sequel to the game, based on the movie The Dark Knight, but the game was cancelled in an early stage of development.