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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Developer: Probe Entertainment OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Acclaim 1 Player
Game Type: Action/Adventure Memory Card
Review Date: September 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Batman has spanned many generations and to each has provided an 
indifferent selection of memories.  To the older BatFan the Dark 
Knight was but a comic book hero where his paperback publications 
swapped hands in the playground for two weeks pocket money, a 
sack of marbles and a handful of grubby football cards.  

To those presently reaching their mid-life crisis the fighting 
team was known as the Dynamic Duo after taking to the small screen 
for a series of colorful and comical TV adventures.  

To the younger generation Batman became the serious sullen 
character of the four blockbuster movies when the Caped Crusader 
came to Hollywood and received a rather mixed reaction.

There's no doubting that Batman is a mega merchandising name and 
has already raked in millions from promotional incidentals that 
range from plastic figures and drinking mugs to toothbrushes and 
bubble bath.  

One area still to be conquered though, is the video game market.  
After moderate success on the less powerful formats, Batman has 
yet to set Gotham City alight on any console system.  Last year 
our high expectations sadly came tumbling down when the side 
scrolling beat-em-up, Batman Forever, flopped badly.  It was 
back to the drawing board for Acclaim.  

For the Dynamic Duo's second outing on Playstation a little more 
time has been allowed to develop the game.  Let's hope after so 
many delays on this project, our long wait for a decent movie 
license game proves worthwhile.


The player takes the role of Batman, Robin or BatGirl for an action/
adventure where your chosen character takes to the streets of Gotham 
City on a mission to defeat the evil Mr Freeze.    

This really is a mixed bag of genres because elements of the game 
involve hand to hand combat, driving various vehicles, solving 
puzzles, negotiating hazards and firing projectiles.


After careful deliberation I have decided to give the visuals a thumbs 
up.  Whether they are manageable is a different matter and shall be 
discussed later in this review.  

Most of the scenery is set in a darkened surrounding, which ties in 
with all four of the big screen movies.  Batman is no longer the chubby 
psychedelic character that Adam West portrayed in the sixties, who fought 
all his battles under the bright disco lights.  Oh, no!  He now creeps 
through the shadows of a dingy Gotham City.  He is no longer afraid of 
the dark... and why should he be?  He is after all a bat!  

Meanwhile... on the outskirts of the bustling Gotham City dimly lit areas 
are brightened up by rows of street lighting and flashing traffic signals.  
Moving into the city centre everything seems to come alive as dazzling 
shop window displays generate atmosphere to the surroundings.  

I was quite impressed when I reached the outside of the city museum and 
the camera moved away to offer a full-frontal view of this detailed and 
historical building.  Colored flashing neon lights reflected across a 
lonely statue and a line of intricate columns that flanked the entrance.  
Once inside, each exhibit was brought to your attention by an individual 
spotlight that highlighted every display cabinet.  I found this all 
quite pleasing to the eye and as the game advances there are more visual 
treats in store that are equally impressive.    

The three playable characters are all viewed from slightly above and 
behind.  Their movements are quite fluid, although a little too upright 
to be truly convincing.  When jogging along on foot their bodies bob up 
and down in a realistic running style and when walking backwards they 
convincingly glance over their shoulders, as if to avoid a collision.

The Bat Mobile looks superb.  Street lights reflect across the highly 
polished bodywork while the sheer power of the beast is accurately 
portrayed by the stream of fire that pours out of the two rear jet 
engines.  There are also a couple of tasty BatBikes up for grabs.

On the down side the water scenes look a little naff, especially when 
the characters are going through their swimming strokes.  These folks 
should loosen up... or else suffer death by drowning.  

Overall I thought that the graphical side to the game was quite impressive.  
It may not be Tomb Raider, but could be favorably compared to the recent 
Nightmare Creatures. 

Sounds and Effects

One of the definite highlights in the Batman & Robin game has to be the 
musical score.  It is of the highest quality and appears to have been 
taken directly from the movie soundtrack.  The sound effects are equally 
impressive with every 'Kapow!', 'Biff!' and 'Sock!' amplified to the 
umpteenth degree so that you virtually feel each blow your character 
takes on the chin.


The game begins with the mighty Batman standing over his precious 
BatComputer inside the confines of the BatCave.  A help text appears 
at the bottom of the screen informing you that Mr Freeze is at large 
and looking to cover the world in a blanket of ice.  To thwart this 
scheming objective the player must use their detective abilities to 
decipher various clues.  Succeed and you will unveil the whereabouts 
of Mr Freezes next dastardly deed.  Fail and it could lead to another 
Ice Age.  As you play an on-screen clock will constantly keep you 
updated of the current game time.  Speed is of the essence and any 
delay will allow your enemies to stay that one step ahead of you.

The BatCave has been rigged out as a practice area allowing you to 
test out Batmans many skills and weapons before dashing into the 
action.  There is a shooting range where various projectiles may be 
fired.  A holographic fighting area is available to safely practice 
the beat-em-up moves.  There are health and cell replenishes which 
may be used to recharge any damage suffered.  Three costume vaults 
are available and upon entry will switch your character to any one 
of the three super heroes.  You will also find an access to Wayne 
Manor, which is a little like Lara's House in Tomb Raider.  Here 
you can practice jumping, fighting and swimming moves.
Each of the characters have their own exclusive moves and combos 
and to help you through the learning precess the game regularly 
freezes and offers helpful advice at the bottom of the screen.

To begin playing the game you must first access the BatComputer 
where clues may be scrutinised.  It's quite simple... really.  
Collected items may be magnified, combined and analyzed to reveal 
information as to where Mr Freeze will strike next.  Once revealed 
the findings may be programmed into the map screen and the BatMobile 
will do the rest.

The first set of clues reveals that Mr Freeze will steal the Sudan 
Diamond from the Gotham City Museum 20 minutes after closing time.  
Analyzing a poster will reveal that the museum closes at 19.06.  
It's now 19.04.  To the BatMobile!

Holy Collision!  Just when thing were looking up Batman takes to 
his vehicle and things start to go slightly wrong.  When travelling 
in straight lines the BatMobile causes little concern, while taking 
corners is simply a matter of timing the handbrake.  Unfortunately 
the streets are so narrow that should you crash the vehicle, or 
take a wrong turning, it is almost impossible to swing the car around.  
This proves even more frustrating when driving in heavy traffic, 
especially when other road users insist on trying to ram you vehicle 
off the highway.  Were you not racing against the clock I would 
suggest the superhero got out of the car and covered the journey on 
foot, but alas there is not enough time to spare.

While driving around the city there are many hidden clues to unveil.  
These may be found within accessible building or from countless 
villains that walk the streets.  On reaching the Museum Batman 
thankfully leaves the car parked outside and enters the building.  
Once inside there are several clues to discover and solve.  If you 
arrived on schedule Mr Freezes henchmen will appear on the scene 
and after several rounds of fisty cuffs the Sudan Diamond will be 
saved.  It then time to return to the BatCave to analyze new clues 
before setting off for more of the same.  Constantly backtracking 
to the BatCave does all become a little tedious but there is an 
option to return there instantly.  Unfortunately this does incur 
a five minute penalty therefore think before using this option.   

The fighting scenes are slightly annoying because while the controls 
are fine when plodding around looking for clues, in the heat of the 
action they are a little too clumsy for my liking.  Even the enemies 
seem to have problems negotiating simple objects that stand in their 
way.  Of course if this title is aimed at the kids then the extra 
time allowed while an enemy is jammed in a corner will be well 
received.  Me?  I like to fight my battles fairly.

Value for Money

We have yet to see a Playstation game that reaches the expected high 
standard of the movie license it depicts.  Batman & Robin is probably 
the best of the bunch but then the rest weren't really up to that much.  
I suggest a rental before purchase.
GRAPHICS: 16/20 Oh, this game was so close to succeeding. Perhaps if the developers had tried not to cram so much into a single game it may have came off. With smoother control over the characters and vehicles Batman & Robin could just have worked.

As it stands it's another 'nearly' license game. Saying that... if you compare it to the other Batman titles then it could be rated as a classic. Hopefully next time!
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 14/20


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