Batman Begins Xbox Review

It's nothing new for a licensed title to borrow ideas from other games and end up with a decent core. How Batman Begins was screwed up, borrowing ideas from some of the best games on the market, doesn't really add up. It had all the potential in the world, only to toss it to the way side for better graphics and production values.

There are two key things to remember here. Splinter Cell fans like Splinter Cell because of its complexities. Burnout fans enjoy Burnout because things blow up. That's where this latest Batman title blatantly steals from, without any idea as to why these two games worked in the first place.

Actually, the Batmobile segments do work, as they always seem to do in Batman video games. They're impressive with an intense sense of speed, heavy wrecks (though rarely to the Batmobile), and stunning graphics. They're fun, and you can only wish there were more of them.

The rest of the game unsurprisingly follows the movie, as players control this dark incarnation of Batman. You'll do so mostly in silence, slipping into the shadows or walking stealthily to avoid detection. In most cases, being detected is instant death. It doesn't matter how good you are at manipulating the character. The game dictates your actions at all times. This is all while battling a camera system more intent on blocking your line of site than actually keeping your controls accurate.

The same goes for all of Batman's gadgets. There is no experimentation anywhere. You're advised of the what, where, and when of these items. Controlling them offers nothing even near the realm of enjoyment. There's no challenge to use them since the game always lets you know when the opportunity is available.

It takes away any sense of exploration, and kills the fun factor in doing so. Enemies are programmed to notice the player at certain points. If you're caught, simply re-do the section until you find the right, direct path the game is asking for. Sections that feature combat do so with a clunky, poorly animated beat-em-up engine that seems like an after thought to the archaic stealth portions.

Of course the game is as dark, gritty, and filled with movie clips to explain the story. It doesn't particularly need them since the faces on the models are just amazing. They have pulled off uncanny likenesses of everyone involved. Shadows and lighting are not completely taking advantage of the hardware, and textures do obviously pop in, but there's not denying this captures the film flawlessly.

The same goes for the voice acting, done by all the actors from the film. It would be stupid to expect less from EA's deep pockets. You can expect the soundtrack to be fully implemented, blaring from your speakers in outstanding use of 5.1 audio. Those with positional audio benefit while sneaking around the stages as audio cues are followed through the sound field perfectly.

Though it doesn't look rushed, it feels like it in every movement. There was obviously a lot of time spent working to tie this game into the film as closely as possible. They forget to tie the game into something video game fans would enjoy. They're left with generic knock-offs that feel like mini-games instead of something fully fleshed out to its potential.

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