Batman: Vengeance is a 2001 game released for all 6th gen console, including GameBoy Advance (of course, in this case, it was a much different version) and PC. Developed by the then-called Ubi Soft, you know who they are, it serves as a sort of successor to The New Batman Adventures animated series. But, is it really at the same level as the animated series? Well, let's talk about that using the PC version
Even though the game is based on the series, the story is new and original. Batman is off to investigate Joker's death, but it all turns out to be a trap set by some of the evilest villains in Gotham city against the masked vigilante. Now he has to fight them all while trying to stop the Joker's plan since he may or may not still be alive.
Avoiding spoilers when talking about this game's plot is pretty much impossible since it's so simple. But as simple as it is, it is also pretty effective to play the role of a successor of the show. Divided into seven different chapters, Batman will find himself beating many grunts, solving puzzles, using different gadgets and even fighting some of the big villains.
The game had a mixed reception among critics and the audience and it did not sell very well either. But it was a strong step forward in finally creating an acceptable Batman video game
Against the best
By the year 2001, it would be unthinkable to say that some of the best looking games out there are Batman games, but now it is more or less a reality. Since the Arkham Series started, comic book games were never the same. Now they are all under a big shadow of which only the PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game seems to be a little safe.
It is completely unfair in any way to compare Batman: Vengeance against any of the games in the Arkham series for many reasons. But it is interesting to think about it in this way: between this game and Arkham Asylum 8 years passed (7 if talking about the PC release), that's almost the same time that passed between Arkham Asylum and Arkham Knight.
Not only is the evolution of the graphics astonishing, but so it is to see how far games have gone in so little time. Even though this year it marks 5 years since Arkham Knight, it still looks amazing even and has some of the best game design there is. The story, art, music, and gameplay are in the Arkham series are to this day pretty much the best in comic book games.
This game really wanted to be a movie of the TV series, sadly it is far from that. The best part of this game by far is that the voice acting is amazing, coming from the animated series cast And the story, while pretty simple, it's still fine for what the game is going for. The animated cinematics are also pretty cartoony. But overall this title ends up being an odd and glitchy experience that did not age well at all.
Graphics and Visuals: The game hides its bad graphics under the excuse of simulating the cartoon's aesthetic. Sure, the art direction is great in that it does look like the show, but the animations are simply mediocre. Lights and shadows are ok but could be much better, it needs more contrast.
Gameplay: This depends a lot on which version you're playing. None of them have good gameplay, but the PC version is by far the worst. Awkward controllers end up making you punch just about every elevator door to use them. Not to mention a silly running Batman trying to lock on an enemy while fighting off the air around him.
Sound: Finally a great aspect of the game. The soundtrack is pretty good, sound a lot like something you'd expect from the TV show and the cartoony sound effects are excellent. The voice acting is simply perfect and this really does help the otherwise awful game, a fun and entertaining experience.
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Evidently it's all too easy to complain when a game has an unworkable camera control system, but that doesn't mean you should just take it away. Especially not if it means Batman running madly through rooms unable to see where things are because of a forced lack of forward vision like he does here. What were they thinking?
That said, it can be corrected. You can refocus the viewpoint behind you by switching into first-person mode and switching back out again. Which is hardly suitable in frenetic action situations. As for the first-person mode, it's adequately controllable. Except it's a mode that only encompasses half of your abilities and requires the hassle of switching back and forth between viewpoints to access the rest of your abilities.
Batman Vengeance seems to consist mostly of a pulp of subpar bash-on-the-keys beat 'em up sequences and simple puzzles. The plot adheres quite well to the generally excellent noirish Warner Brothers cartoon and its gothic anime stylings. It's just the bland, sterile action inbetween that's the problem. Batman, as a concept, exudes atmosphere and comic book effervescence. As a game, the levels are muted by a committed emptiness. A variety of sub games (recalling the decent 8/16-bit movie tie-ins by Ocean) try to give it substance, although they don't gel with the dull on-foot sections. The fact that it tries to imitate games such as Metal Gear Solid and fails doesn't help matters. Horribly trite, unfair and nowhere near excellent.
For over 50 years there has existed one constant in the jungle that is Gotham City -- the Batman. Honing his body and mind to perfection, Bruce Wayne took on the mantle of the Bat to ensure the horrible tragedy that befell him as a child would never again happen to another. Criminals fear him, the law respects him and his peers recognize him as the world's greatest detective. Batman has always answered the call for justice, fighting evildoers from the lowly thug prowling the street to the super-powered villain looking to destroy the city. But no matter what he does to clean up Gotham, the criminals still seem to fester there.
In this case, the Joker has set into motion a most insidious plan involving a kidnapping and many bombs. No sooner does the Dark Knight stop the Joker's deadly game than a more sinister plot emerges, involving members of Batman's rogue's gallery -- Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn. It's going to take a lot of sleuthing and butt whipping to get to the bottom of this mess; good thing you've got all the bat-gadgets you need.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Batman Vengeance is both a first-person AND third-person game. As Batman, players run around the various locations of Gotham City attempting to stop the nefarious plans of the city's worst villains.
Starting off, players will watch several of the high quality cutscenes that mimic Batman: The Animated Series. Credits slowly roll as Batman runs though a warehouse where a woman has been tied up beside a bomb. This woman has had her son kidnapped by the Joker, who is demanding five million dollars as a ransom. The problem is, she's as regular as you and I. Why would the Joker do this? Of course he is crazy, so this only opens more doors for Batman. As soon as the opening concludes, Alfred the butler guides you through a tutorial in the Batcave. Here you may hone your skills at using the Bat-grapple and various other Bat-techniques. You also have the option to lighten (or darken) this really dark game. My advice is to lighten the game up a ton AND play in a pitch-black room. One of the biggest flaws of this game is that, while the animation looks great, the entire game is way too dark for its own good. Batman literally becomes part of the shadows, and I don't mean this in a good way.
While adventuring, Batman runs around finding various items to use and dealing with the immediate problems of the area. Jumping in the air, he can hold his cape out and glide along to other areas. This is a good trick to know in the event of falling to the ground from some ankle-breaking height. Batman has a health gauge that must be monitored due to the damage he takes. To be perfectly honest with you, I felt myself cringing throughout the game. While Batman and the other characters all look good, as do the weapons and vehicles, I don't think the game developers did their homework when it actually came to the Dark Knight. For example, Batman runs across a small courtyard, jumps up on a barrel and then attempts to jump up onto a freight container, missing it with his foot by mere inches. Pick up any Batman comic and one of the first things you'll notice is Batman's awesome agility and maneuvering. The game's control and effects are so dismal that it's not much fun being Batman. One would at least expect the ability to jump up and grab onto ledges like Lara Croft, but not even that is possible. I was repeatedly displeased with the poor controls.
While I am beating up this game, let me tell you a few other things I was disappointed in. When activating the multitude of Bat-items, the perspective switches to first person and you see Batman use whatever it is you have chosen. The sad part about it is having to toggle through a one-way menu that lists all the items in your inventory, whether or not you are carrying them. I don't need to tell you how difficult this can be in the middle of a fight or boss-battle. As a matter of fact, once you have defeated the non-important thugs that attack throughout the game, you must handcuff them in order to stop them completely. Otherwise, the thugs will regain consciousness and attack you again. While this isn't an entirely bad idea, the lack of Batcuffs you carry can be somewhat disheartening. I'm certainly not suggesting that Batman have an unlimited supply of equipment, but at least more than three sets of cuffs would be a good idea. Of course you can find boxes of equipment scattered throughout the area, which again is silly, since it's highly improbable that cases of Bat-a-rangs and Batcuffs would be lying around the city in boxes with Batman symbols on them. Imagine if you were walking along and saw a box like that lying there -- HELLO? Can you say "stolen?" That's exactly my point. Batman is the consummate Boy Scout, as in "Be prepared."
The back of the game box states that Batman can perform over 500 animated moves. Well, don't expect the ultimate fighting character of all time. Batman DOES have over 500 moves, if you consider walking, jumping and standing there to be three of them. Sure, there are some pretty gnarly fighting moves that you can use to dispatch your foes; Batman is supposed to be one of the world's foremost martial artists. Again, this begs the question: how can the thugs be so darn tough? In the comics, Batman can go through several hired henchmen in mere moments with really cool moves and catlike reflexes. It just doesn't happen that way in the game. Here, when combat is initiated, if there are other bad guys nearby they merely stand there and watch you fight one of their friends, only joining the fray once you have defeated the previous thug. Batman Vengeance could have benefited from a better fighting engine like Oni or Dead or Alive: Hardcore. Instead we are treated to a first-generation fighting engine that rivals Rise of the Robots: Feces Edition. Yuk.
Batman Vengeance is a single-player game.
While the cutscenes (there are 40 minutes worth) are the spitting image of the animated series, the in-game graphics are bland and run together. The whole game is too dark and grainy to be any real fun and the environments are way too pedestrian. I think the programmers started out thinking that they would use the '40s flavor of the TV series as a base, and neglected to put together the right puzzle pieces. The linear lines of Batman himself look good if you are standing in a well-lit area, but for the most part the thugs, including Poison Ivy's plant creatures, just don't cut the mustard.
Here we finally have a standout category. Mark Hamill is the Joker, and Kevin Conroy uses his awesome voice as the Bat himself. Personally, I was thrilled to hear the same voices as in the animated TV series -- I was worried that Ubi Soft might get some second-rate voice actors who wouldn't quite make the cut. They also provided a rare Dolby Digital audio track with the game, which makes me give it the big thumbs up.
Nothing chaps my hide more than a really good idea for a video game absolutely destroyed by poor controls and subpar cause and effect. I really wanted this to be a standout game, and went in thinking it would be. The audio portion of the game was done exceptionally well, but we as consumers don't buy games based on audio alone. The game was a dismal experience that really made no sense when it came to the controls, and while the story wasn't the worst, it wasn't the greatest either. My recommendation is to pass on Batman Vengeance, as you will ultimately be disappointed.
Snapshots and Media
- Batman And Robin
- Batman: Arkham City
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
- Deus Ex
- Overlord 2
- Payday 2
- Prototype 2
- Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
- Just Cause 3
- Mirror's Edge
- Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
- A Way Out
- Far Cry: Primal
- Killing Floor: Incursion
- Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
- Terminator: Salvation
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- Tomb Raider: Legend