Batman Begins Review

You'll get everything and more out of watching the movie that you could from playing the game...in the same amount of time.

The best thing that can be said about the Game Boy Advance version of Batman Begins is that it does a good job of following the movie's script. Beyond that, this brief two-hour romp is just another in a long line of mediocre action games churned out to cash in on a big-budget motion picture.

Batman has plenty of attacks and gadgets.

Each of the game's dozen levels is based on a scene from the movie. Ra's Al Ghul's training grounds, the docks, Gotham's downtown, and Arkham Asylum are just a few of the many locations you'll recognize if you've already taken in the film. And characters like Flass, Carmine Falcone, the Scarecrow, and Ra's Al Ghul are put to good use as the game's primary villains. Select dialogue from the film is used during scripted events and cutscenes. The background music is also quite reminiscent of the orchestral music that was used in the film.

Batman has a good assortment of attacks, gadgets, and superhero skills. You can take out enemies with punches, kicks, jump kicks, and any combination thereof, or you can distract them with flashbangs, smoke grenades, and batarangs. His grappling hook lets you escape to the ceiling, which comes in handy for fleeing a pack of thugs or just latching onto a useful pipe. By double-tapping the jump button, you can perform a double jump or propel Batman upward between parallel walls. Keeping the jump button pressed, meanwhile, lets you glide through the air, grab onto ledges, and dangle from pipes. The game even has a Splinter Cell vibe going on, since you can sneak past enemies or hide from them by taking advantage of strategically placed pipes and alcoves.

Despite all that Batman can do, the game rarely gives the player much incentive or opportunity to put his wealth of abilities to use. Sneaking doesn't offer much benefit, except in situations where multiple enemies are gathered. Most enemies just run up to you and stand there while you punch them, and the ones that do block your attacks can easily be taken out with continuous foot sweeps. You'll have to keep an eye out for the thugs that are armed with guns, knives, or baseball bats, because they can take away half of Batman's health in one hit. However, their attacks are so slow and infrequent that continuous foot sweeps work just fine on them too. The level designs are also short and straightforward. There are spots where you'll need to nail a dash jump or a double jump, or activate a switch with a batarang, but most often you're just walking to the left or right and climbing up boxes.

It's silly that there are so many boxes and crates in this game. In the movie, there was really only one scene where shipping containers and crates came into play. Here, they're everywhere--whether stacked to form ledges, attached to elevators, or just sitting around as window dressing. It doesn't help that the backgrounds are grainy and almost devoid of color either or that the same tiles are recycled constantly to make up the walls, floors, and ledges. The outfits that some of the enemies wear, as well as Batman's costume, are gray in color and often blend in with the scenery, which can lead to a few nasty surprises. If not for a few superfluous lighting effects and the character animation, which is, admittedly, extremely fluid and lifelike, you'd think this game was originally intended for the old-school NES or Game Boy Color. That might explain why the cutscenes are also grainy and washed-out, as well as why the sound effects are limited to a few thuds and hissing groans. Of course, this is a so-called 16-bit GBA game, which means all these shortcomings are pretty much inexcusable since we know the hardware is capable of better.

Aside from the lifelike animation, the graphics are ugly.

There's also something very wrong about a Batman game that doesn't include at least one batmobile level. Opinions have been mixed regarding the "Tumbler" version of the batmobile that was used in Batman Begins. Even so, it would have been nice to get to drive it in a minigame or a side-scrolling level in the GBA game. No such luck, unfortunately.

All told, too much effort went into the main character and the story, and too little effort was put into everything else (the level designs, the enemies, the graphics, the audio, and so forth). You can literally get everything and more out of watching the movie that you could from playing the game...in the same amount of time and for much less money.

The Good
Batman has loads of attacks, abilities, and gadgets
Fluid character animation
Levels and cutscenes follow the movie script
The Bad
Primitive enemies
Dull, short levels
Grainy graphics are a laugh
Barely two hours of gameplay
5
Mediocre
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Batman Begins More Info

  • First Released
    • Game Boy Advance
    • GameCube
    • + 4 more
    • Mobile
    • PlayStation 2
    • PSP
    • Xbox
    Step into the shadows of Gotham City's dangerous criminal underworld as Batman. Based on the movie of the same name, Batman Begins lets you explore both the origins of the "dark knight" and his transformation into a superhero.
    7.7
    Average User RatingOut of 3460 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Vicarious Visions, Eurocom Entertainment Software, Klear Games
    Published by:
    EA Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Genres:
    Action, Beat-'Em-Up
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    XBOX GC PS2
    Language, Violence
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    GBA
    Mild Language, Violence