Prior to the Arkham series the Dark Knight had some forgettable outings in the gaming world. Most games saw quick cash-ins being the order of the day and who will ever forget the Batman Forever movie tie-in? Batman Begins is another Batman game that’s connected directly to Christopher Nolan’s first Batman movie, but it avoids being a scarecrow experience.
A movie tie-in that works? Say what now?
By now, if you’re a Batman fan, you should know the premise of the movie. You’ll get to experience most of what happens in the Batman Begins movie in the game, along with snippets from the movie telling the story as you progress. The theme of what drove that movie also plays a major part in the game, and it’s because of that element that the game stands out and makes sense – Fear.
Events in the game kicks off as soon as Batman has returned to Gotham after receiving extensive training from Ra’s al Ghul (which you’ll experience later on in the game in flashbacks) with his one and only motive, at first, being to catch Crane in a typical tutorial level. Being Batman you’ll have to get accustomed to beating the snot out of thugs as well as making good use of your tech right away. Pressing the B or Y button will have Batman performing punches and kicks, though it gets a bit more complicated when taking on groups of foes. Keep an eye on the hud and you’ll see the option to perform special attacks pop up in the right-hand corner. Press X when it pops up to perform a multi attack, jump attack, deliver a final attack or to break the defence of any opponent blocking your attacks. When things get tricky, as it does later on in the game, you’ll also have to be quick when it comes to using your tech, and using it can be a little tricky in itself.
Thankfully it’s not all about sneaking and action either as there are some basic puzzles to solve that’ll help with the pace in each level.
To browse your available gadgets press up or down on the tiny GameCube D-Pad and activate the Batarang, smoke bomb, flash bang or shuriken by pressing the Z button. As you might imagine it’s really cumbersome thanks to the wonky D-Pad and terrible location of the Z button. Get a grasp on that and you’ll enjoy Batman Begins, don’t and the experience will be over before you know it. Should you hold out there’s much to enjoy, especially when it comes using stealth to your advantage to send the enemies into complete panic due to their above-mentioned fear.
Fear is your weapon of choice
Whenever you enter a room you’ll have the goons being represented as green or red cones on the minimap. Now, having Batman take down several opponents is not a problem, but as soon as they have guns in their hands you are about to have a tough time. A few shots puts the Bat in his grave quite easily, therefore you need to bring the fear factor. Your patience rewards you in Batman Begins, so taking on any set of goons will require some careful planning. More often than not it involves Batman using the Batarang to explode some barrels or demolishing a structure to have the goons drop their guns, as result turning their markers from red to green – meaning they don’t pose a fatal danger anymore. More importantly you’re showing the other enemies that you’re not scared to take down the stronger foes, which has their fear meter shooting through the roof and making your job that much easier. Beat them all down and you’ll be able to interrogate the last poor sod, which helps you with leads to get to your objective. Thankfully it’s not all about sneaking and action either as there are some basic puzzles to solve that’ll help with the pace in each level.
These puzzles are either an ‘activate this to open that’ puzzle, or it’s level based where you have to climb pipes, grapple to out-of-reach locations and navigate your way through maze-like areas to get to point B. It’s very basic and you won’t ever be scratching your head trying to figure out how to solve anything, but it’s fun enough to care. On the other hand you’ll also have a few levels that’ll have you commandeering the Bat Mobile. Here you’ll fire weapons, boost and even jump the vehicle at times. It controls exceptionally well and bashing through enemy cars is quite a thrilling experience, especially when one of the tasks has you going as fast as you possibly can to get Rachel back to the Batcave safely to inject her with serum after her encounter with the Scarecrow. Another stage will have you dodging spotlights as you fight against time and pick up nitro packs on the road to keep the speed to the maximum.
Besides the D-Pad and Z button issues and very questionable voice acting, from the actual Batman Begins movie actors, it’s good fun to be the Bat. You also won’t often find a game that plays as well alongside a tied-in movie as this, but don’t expect it to be anywhere near as good as the Arkham series. This here was a shining Bat-signal when gamers needed him most, before the modern day Arkham hero arrived.