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Batman: Vengeance Review
game: Batman: Vengeance
two star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: Ubi Soft
date posted: 09:10 AM Sun Nov 24th, 2002
last revision: 04:54 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

Another month, another superhero game that fails to live up to its name. Batman; Vengeance is a third person action game that appeared on consoles a year ago and it wasn\'t very good back then either. Camera problems, horrible controls, bland graphics, and a surprising lack of anything enjoyable at all contribute towards making Batman: Vengeance an unpleasant experience that even die-hard fans of the Caped Crusader will have trouble enjoying.

The story in Vengeance is pretty uninspired. It definitely isn\'t worthy of the animated TV show on which the game is based. Along the way, you\'ll do battle with not only the Joker but his cute sidekick Harley Quinn, the evil Mr. Freeze, and the treacherous Poison Ivy.

I have to admit, out of all of the superheroes out there, I probably like Batman the least. He is basically a rich guy with some mental problems. He relies on fancy gadgets, a lot of luck, and the predictable foolishness of his enemies for his success. I can only imagine what the world would be like if Bill Gates or Steve Forbes or any of the other eccentric billionaires of the world decided to invest in some futuristic gizmos so they could go out and fight crime. Probably something along the lines of flinging boxes with green \"X\"s on them at their enemies.

Gadgets truly are what make Batman well, Batman, so any game featuring ol\' Bats had better get his tools right. Batman\'s famous utility belt and all of its hidden goodies are featured in the game, but most of them aren\'t that useful. The Batgrapple plays a fairly major role in progressing through the game, but you are severely limited as to how you use it. In a city full of tall buildings and ledges and dozens of other things we have seen Batman take advantage of in the past, the only things you can latch onto with your Batgrapple are predetermined spots marked with big glowing icons. You can also use a few different variations of the Batarang as well as the Bat Launcher that shoots nets at your enemies.

The main problem with all of these gadgets, other than the fact that it is usually easier to just take out your foes with punches and kicks, is that in order to use them you have to switch to first person mode. Talk about a buzz killer. Batman is busy delivering a flurry of punches and kicks when he has to call a timeout so he can aim his Batarang just right. As fans should know, Batman doesn\'t kill anyone. This means that at most you can capture or knock your enemies unconscious. Rather than quietly disappearing into the night after they have been beaten, the enemies in Vengeance will keep getting up and attacking Batman unless you slap a pair of Batcuffs on them. The problem is that you only have a very limited supply of these hand cuffs and at times you\'ll wish you could just whip out a Glock and pop a cap in their asses. Especially frustrating is when you are trying to make a tricky jump, only to fail when some enemy you failed to tie up comes up out of nowhere and throws off your timing.

Even though having to Batcuff every enemy in the game is annoying, I can understand why superheroes try not to kill people, and it isn\'t because of a moral objection to capital punishment. It is all about job security, baby! If you kill the Joker now, there won\'t be any super villains for you to defeat tomorrow. People have to suffer and die just because our superheroes are selfish. That is a pretty bleak way to describe the superhero/super villain relationship, but having to fight the same enemy a dozen times before you get some more Batcuffs is enough to drive you mad.

Perhaps Batman\'s most famous gadgets are his vehicles. The Batplane and Batmobile both have levels where you have to maneuver them around Gotham City. These sequences are even more horrendous than the rest of the game, thanks to extra sluggish control. Racing through the city streets isn\'t too bad, but flying the Batplane is nigh impossible. Twisting through the cluttered skyline of Gotham City while chasing Mr. Freeze is too frustrating to be fun.

When you aren\'t fighting or driving a vehicle, the gameplay in Batman: Vengeance consists of nasty jumping puzzles that take an already difficult game and kick the frustration factor up a notch. Nothing ruins a perfectly good third person adventure game faster than brainless jumping puzzles.

There are two problems that make the game far more difficult than it should be: The camera and the controls. A problem that ruins almost every third person action game is that the camera never seems to be in the right spot. In Batman: Vengeance, not only does the camera swing wildly at seemingly random times, but you can\'t easily reposition the camera to a better angle. The only thing you can do is quickly switch from third person to first person and then back to third person perspective. This places the camera directly behind Batman and makes most of the jumps a little easier.

The other major problem with Batman: Vengeance that makes not only the jumping puzzles but also the entire game more difficult is the horrible control. Controlling the game with the keyboard is almost impossible. Using the W,A,S,D keys for movement just doesn\'t offer precise enough control, so it is best to use a gamepad when playing Vengeance. Even though the game controls infinitely better with a gamepad than the keyboard, it is still ridiculously difficult to complete the jumping puzzles. The controls, even with a gamepad, just feel too stiff and you never really feel like you are actually in control. It is more like you give the game the general idea of what you want it to do, and then it struggles to turn those dreams into reality. Expect to miss a lot of seemingly easy jumps in this game thanks to the control.

Graphically, Batman: Vengeance manages to do a fairly good job of emulating the animated TV show on which it is based. The characters are all suitably detailed and resemble their television counterparts fairly well. Batman has the square jaw and triangles for eyes you\'d expect, and the Joker\'s hair is just the right shade of green. The characters, especially Batman, are also animated very well. Where the graphics fail to deliver are in the environments. Everything is either blue, black, or gray and make the game feel very repetitive. The story is told through some decent looking real time cinemas, but there are also some absolutely fugly (yes, fugly) pre-rendered scenes that are too blurry to watch. The characters look great, but the rest of the game\'s graphics leave much to be desired.

The sound is one of the highlights of Batman: Vengeance. Mark Hamill and the other voice actors from the animated TV series reprise their roles for the game and do a very good job. The music is also very well done, but it can start to get on your nerves when you have to listen to the same track over and over when you have to play through levels repeatedly. Even though the sound is generally pretty good, it isn\'t enough to save Batman: Vengeance.

Overall, Batman: Vengeance is a bad game with bad graphics, bad controls, and a bad camera. The game is also very short and seems artificially lengthened by all of the puzzles and driving sequences that will require you to try them dozens of times before you beat them. The worst thing about struggling through this adventure is that there is nothing to unlock or secrets to discover. The reward definitely doesn\'t justify the trouble you have to go through. Batman: Vengeance is a good example of poor game design and ends up providing more frustration than fun. Even die hard fans of Batman will struggle to have fun with Vengeance, so I\'d recommend skipping it and playing one of the other superhero games out there.