Maybe I should play for another hour so I can unlock a picture of
the Scuba Gear Battle Damage Batman Figure.Review by Ty Shughart
Hey, another Batman game! Well, as anybody can plainly see, it's a third party game based on a licensed character. While that's usually a harbinger of disaster
, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is actually pretty fun.
Four reasonably varied characters are playable: Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing. Each character has an 'unlockable' move list; the player exchanges points for new moves. Each new move can actually change the strategy a lot - this and a good variation of enemies keeps the game a safe distance away from horrible repetition. Also, the heroes sure talk a lot, especially in two-player. They praise each other, or warn the other player when their health is low. They even address the character specifically; they don't keep using the same line over and over again. It's still only a two-player game, though. With four characters, it would make sense to have four players, but for some reason it doesn't seem like quite the same horrible blasphemy as a two-player Ninja Turtle game.
Characters start with basic punch and kick combos, but progressively better combos are unlocked, which can involve crazy juggles or the combo meter. The combo meter allows the most powerful moves to be performed for a limited time. Another part of this game's technique is figuring out good moves and patterns to build this meter quickly. Also included is a handy dive button for getting out of trouble or grabbing items, fast
. It also looks just as cool as it does on the cartoon.
In old 2D beat-'em-ups, throws were the key to dealing with large groups of enemies. In the more recent Ninja Turtles game, this was dumbed down to just bowling through a ton of enemies at once with regular attacks. Things are a bit different in Batman, here. Sure, it has throws, but they are hardly effective for dealing with more than one enemy at once. The alternative here is the use of gadgets
- stuff like smoke bombs and Batarangs are the much-needed crowd control devices. By the end of the game, it's a necessity to keep enemies at bay with an upgraded Batarang or something similar.
Sin Tzu might look like just a boring old thug nobody has heard of nor cares about, but throughout the course of the game, he gradually becomes a pretty cool villain. The manual claims he was created for the game, but apparently he's getting put into the comic books and a book detailing this same story.
In fact, guys like Clayface or Scarecrow may not seem like the hottest Batman villains ever, but their dialogue and boss fights are actually quite excellent. Each boss has a 'trick' to beating them, and these tricks require some skill to properly pull off. For example, in the fight with Scarecrow, he can't even be seen
most of the time because of the trippy hallucinations. You have to watch for the mist flooding the room to be disturbed, and then strike there
! All four bosses (Scarecrow, Clayface, Bane, and Sin Tzu) are similarly part-puzzle, part-execution.
Even the dime-a-dozen broad-shouldered goons look like they came right off Batman: The Animated Series. They attack with crowbars, planks of wood, and pipes, and need to be quickly knocked down so that they drop them. They'll also pick up chairs, barrels, or anything lying around so that they can smash it on a hero's face.
The aforementioned fog effect looks nice and fits the look of the game pretty well, so it's seemingly put in most levels. Unfortunately, the game doesn't look like it's 60 FPS, and the character animations are pretty sketchy. So, yeah, while the graphical style does Batman: The Animated Series perfect justice, it's not exactly the best-looking game of year. It's not cel-shaded, by the way. Well, maybe there is a little flat-shading here and there, but it still largely looks more like the older computer-generated look. Maybe cel-shading would just be bandwagon-jumping at this point...
However, the soundtrack is a cream-of-the-crop 900-lb gorilla worth writing home about, to put it in horrible writing cliches. Some of the music includes different takes on the Animated Series theme, and some songs just go on their own style, like the DJ-Mix-sounding song.
While Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is well-designed and has a good fighting system, there's not very many other enticements to bring someone back to it after beating the game. There's gallery stuff, which is pretty typical of games, nowadays. You can unlock these by buying different tokens with excess points on different tokens and blah blah blah blah blah. It boils down to playing the game over and over and over again, or more preferably, just putting in the code and being done with it
(as an aside, there are alternate costumes, which include classic Adam West era colors for Batman). Maybe a hardcore Batman collector would find a new copy a pretty good investment, since it can be bought as a 'Lithograph Commemorative Edition' and the gallery is pretty comprehensive, including toys, comic covers, and villain profiles. It's probably just filler to the rest of us, though.
It's fun, very fun, and a very good beat-'em-up, but not so replayable as to spend 40 dollars on it. Rent it, or buy it in a year when it's a super-dicount game or available second-hand.Pros
- Really cool boss fights
- Good control and lots of cool moves
- Four playable characters
- Excellent lines, voice acting, cinematics
- There could have been a better selection of supervillains, even
without using Joker for the 347th time.
- Graphics don't have a very smooth look
- Why spend a hundred hours unlocking every silly comic book
cover when you could just put in the code?
It's a little strange that Batman didn't just hop right on the cel-shading bandwagon, but the computer-generated look still works very well with the Batman style. The whole game has the whole "not 60 fps" look to it, like the game was developed to work with the lowest common denominator of all the systems it's on. The cinematics are very nice, but unfortunately that's not the part you play.Sound 9.0
Awesome music, grabbed and remixed from the Batman: The Animated Series theme. There's even a cool DJ mix in one of the later levels. The voice actors are the awesome originals, as far as I can tell.Control 8.5
Lots of moves and combos based on proper timing. Diving and blocking is actually useful, as well as Batarangs.Lastability 3.0
Well, uh, you could play through it on every difficulty, just like any game ever made, I suppose. No versus mode or anything special here to keep you coming back to it. I think we're in rental territory, here.Gameplay 8.0
Nicely complex: not so brain-meltingly mindless as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The fighting system is nicely suited for a the 3D generation of beat-'em-ups, which usually live up to their 2D forefathers. No four-player mode, though.Overall 7.0
It's surprisingly good, but also painfully unreplayable.