A fun mix of game-play at a basic but entertaining level.

User Rating: 7.5 | Batman Begins PS2
Batman Begins follows the plot of the movie of the same name, although not all the scenes in the game match those in the film. If you haven't seen the film, you may find yourself a little lost as to what's supposed to be going on in the game.

To help get you into the action quickly you start off in the middle of the story, as Batman, fighting off thugs in a burning building. After this short introduction to the controls you're thrown back in time to start your training with the League of Shadows, and the levels get progressively longer from there.

I found the game-play was, for the most part, broken up into 3 genres: stealth, platforming, and combat. Even though they're all distinct to one another, they're constantly shifting back and forth, so it almost seems like it's all happening simultaneously. They work very well together, and I think that's in part to the developers keeping the use of each aspect very simple.

The stealth game-play is very straight forward. You have a radar available to show you where the bad guys are, and which direction they're facing. If you stay behind boxes, and obstacles, or up high in the rafters and on ledges, and they can't see you. There's no complicated shadow system or anything like that to worry about. Move quietly, keep your head down, and you shouldn't have a problem with keeping out of their view.

The platforming is just as uncomplicated. Batman is easy to control with instances of missing the jumps you want to make happen very rare. I never found myself lost, once I knew what things I could and couldn't climb on. This of course is partially due to the linearity of the levels, as there's only one way you can complete them. Throughout the stages you'll find yourself gliding to navigate large gaps, climbing up pipes and chains, crawling through duct work, jumping across fire escapes, and using your grappling hook at predetermined locations. There's very little room for improvement in the overall control scheme; it's all very intuitive and easy to manage.

The combat is 3rd game-play mechanic to follow the trend of simplicity. Square to punch, Triangle to kick. The O button will let you perform finishing and special moves when prompted. Unlike common quick-time events found in some games however, you only need to press the O button once to perform the move, and it won't punish you if you don't press it. You can also perform a couple aerial moves and group-attack moves to knock back several enemies at once. You can also block then counter enemy attacks.

You do get a few weapons to choose from, like flash grenades, and poisonous smoke bombs, but they all pretty much work the same way. They'll disorientate your enemies, giving you a chance to pound on them with little retaliation on their part.

All three components come together when you have to instil fear into your enemies. Scaring them will make them drop their guns (a necessity as getting shot will quickly kill you) and make them less effective in combat. Some even just drop to the floor and cower with their hands over their head. You can scare them by moving in close undetected, usually high above them, and then creating some kind of commotion like an explosion, snagging one of the guys, or my favourite which was causing corpses to fall out of some freezers in a morgue.

So although the stealth, platforming, and combat aspects were nothing special individually, using all together at once made it quite fun. There were times though during some of the longer stages in the middle of the game where it did feel a little drawn out and repetitive. Despite a well modeled Batman and some nice looking graphics, the environments don't change drastically and overall depth in the game-play is lacking.

To help mix things up, there's also a couple driving missions in the game. Taking the Batmobile to the streets follows the same entertainment value as the rest of the game: simple, but fun. I usually dislike racing levels in games that aren't racing games, but the basic nature of the stages made it easy to manage, gave the game a nice change of pace, and let me enjoy my time causing havoc on the roads without weighing me down with frustrating mission goals. The driving missions also make up the bulk of what there is to look forward to playing after you complete the game, as they'll give you new time trials to try and beat. Sadly if you want anything extra to do in the rest of the stages you'll be disappointed, and will have to settle for just playing it over again at a harder difficulty or maybe with one of the new Batsuits you'll unlock.

The only other part that may disappoint some is how the final boss fight is a little anti-climactic, and not that much different than any other fight in the game.

The end result is a game that is just what I've been repeating throughout this review: basic fun. It's not revolutionary or overly ambitious, and it won't win over the hearts of millions, but it's fun. It's not likely a game that you'll want to play again and again, but you're bound to have a good time with it while you are playing.