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Batman's Clumsy Vengeance

After beating Pikmin (see that article), I needed something to pass the time on my Gamecube until I decided that I wanted to play through the game again to see if it was possible to slaugter less innocent creatures than last time. So I headed over to my friendly neigborhood rip-off (Blockbuster) and looked through their rentable selection of games.

So, I remembered seeing some ads for the game "Batman: Vengeance" on the TV. I'm a big fan of the Batman cartoon serieses. Series? Can "series" be plural and singular? Anyway. I remember thinking it was weird the way that they took the very stylized 2-D of the game and made 3-D computer models out of the characters.

And you know what? It works pretty well, at least in the pre-rendered cinematic sequences at the beginnings and endings of some levels. Some, not all. It was kind of random when they used the pre-rendered scenes and when they would just have cinema scenes with the regular gameplay modeled characters. I don't konw why they just didn't do all of the cinema scenes pre-rendered. It's kind of silly, especially since the gampeplay version of the Joker looks like he's a toothless old man. Really.

But the pre-rendered characters all look really good, except the ladies' faces don't look quite right. But all the original voices are there: Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Aileen Sorkin, and Luke Skywalker. It all does a pretty good job of captruing the feel of the cartoons.

But once you actually start playing, problems start popping up. The first one being that in this game Batman is a big clumsy oaf.

I mean, this is Batman, right? This is the guy who can dodge bullets like Remo Williams in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. In this game, though, if he doesn't get a punch or a bataran off and disarm the thug first, he's in for a good half-dozen lead slugs to the midsection. Even if you try to jump to avoid the bullets, the thugs in this game just raise their aim a little bit and take some chunks out of you.

Not that it seems to matter, though. Each bullet takes maybe 1/16th of his health bar. It seems that after 50-some years of getting shot, Batman has developed a healthy resistance to lead poisoning.

He also can't fight regular-Joe thugs for the life of him. Don't get me wrong, he has some kick-ass looking moves, and you can pull off some cool combos by mashing on the punch and kick buttons. But all the thugs have to do is put thier arms in front of thier faces and they might as well be hiding behind a brick wall for all the ability Batman has to break through such a clever defense.

I know this is a video game, and if you could beat up all the thugs no problem it might not be very exciting. The funny thing is, later in the game Batman is framed for whacking Commisioner Gordon in the head with a batarang and the police try to hunt him down. And you know what? You can knock out the police officers with one punch. Every single one of them is a glass jaw. Maybe the police should try to recruit from the criminal element in Gotham, becasue even Mr. Freeze's ice-babes are harder to knock down than the most seasoned veteran of the GPD force.

I guess I just have a problem with video games that don't accurately portray their source material. It's like most of the Superman video games, where he can get hurt by lasers and missiles and stuff. Sure, Supes can get hurt by those things, but they don't actually damage him. But in some video games, he can get killed by an accurately-placed guided missile.

In the same vein, I want my Batman to actually kick ass and be this totally dexterous guy that villains fear. And to be fair, the gamemakers try make up for it, as you collect points you do get access to some kick-ass moves that the villains can't block, and they do look pretty cool. But it still takes like three or four of those to knock a guy out, and you have to kick and punch in vain at them to build up your super-move meter. It's just kind of embarrasing to watch Batman doing these cool spinning kicks at a man who just has his hands in front of his face.

Some other problems with the game are that at times it's really difficult to know where you're supposed to go next in the levels. That's a big one. Another one is the fact that you can use your bat-cables, but you can only attach it to these giant bat symbols on objects. Now, if I were one of the Joker's henchman, and I was guarding a warehouse that had a handful of giant, glowing bat symbols here and there, I'd be a little suspicous. Wouldn't you?

The game's story is pretty good, though, and the variety of gameplay is nice. You get to fly the Batwing (clumsily) and drive the Batmobile (again, clumsily), and there are several puzzles. Each of the boss fights is different, too, although none are particularly hard once you figure out what you have to do. Some of my favorite parts of the games are the free-fall parts. In the first one, the Joker tosses a boy off the Gotham bridge and you have to jump after him and catch him before he hits the water. Then when the Joker falls off the bridge later, Harley tries to dive in after him, and you have to dive off and catch her, too. Then the very last boss of the game, after you've defeated the Joker's plans, he tries to commit suicide by jumping out of a blimp. You have to dive after him and catch him before he goes splat on a city street. But he's so intent on dying that brought some bombs and a tommy-gun with him. You actually have to punch the gun out of his hand before you can grab him, while you pass through the clouds and then the city starts rushing up from beneath you.

These parts seem the most like Batman is actually Batman, saving people from falling to their deaths as only he can. They're also cool because they're actually pretty realistic; you have only a few seconds in the first two instances, and just about a minute for the final Joker fight.

Oh, as you probably guessed, yes, I did beat the entire game in just the few days I had rented it, so it's really not that much of a challenge. Okay for a rent, but I think I'll skip buying it and wait for Wrestlemania X-8 to come out.

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