|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||BATMAN & ROBIN|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|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.
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!