Using the same game engine as other Vicarious Visions games, Batman Begins is a routine GBA side scroller.

Batman Begin is like a mad scientist?s concoction; it is made up of many different elements. Take one part Wolverine?s Revenge, one part Prince of Persia, and one part Splinter Cell to compose the title that is the GBA edition of Batman Begins. The player controls Batman in a series of side scrolling levels. Double jumping, climbing pipes, wall kicking, and fighting bad guys is the main focus of the game.

Like other Vicarious Visions titles, combat is routine but jerky. Batman has many moves at his disposal, but performing them isn?t as solid as it should be. For example, he can perform a foot sweep, but it suffers from some lag. The same goes for his uppercut. If the block button is held down and the attack button pressed, Batman will throw a reverse punch. While this is a really cool maneuver, the hit detection is off. Enemies have to be right on top of him in order for this move to work.

Double jumping and clinging to ledges is pretty smooth, but wall jumping and rolling are way too peevish. It almost seems like the game anticipates the player?s need to wall jump. Jumping from wall to wall happens much too quickly for the amount of control put in. Batman?s roll move also falls into the inconsistent play control. If down angle right or left is pressed, Batman is supposed to roll, allowing him access to passageways that are otherwise too small. But if the player starts directly on top this small passageway, the roll move will not register. The player must then turn around, walk back one step, then try and perform the move. The fact that Batman has many moves at his disposal is a great idea, but it is not a smooth and responsive as it should be.

Fighting bad guys, one of the biggest elements of the game, also has problems. Enemies tend to swarm Batman, surrounding him from both sides. But there really isn?t a good fighting move to attack multiple enemies simultaneously. Taking a note from Ubi Soft?s Splinter Cell GBA games, Batman can hide in the background by holding Up on the D-pad, but in shadowy areas only. While this introduces stealth to the Batman world, it could have been developed further. Hiding allows Batman to sneak up behind enemies undetected and attack by surprise. But what is the point of a sneak attack when you can?t one hit kill them? This defeats the whole purpose of trying to sneak up on enemies. Wolverine had this ability in X2 Wolverine?s Revenge, why can?t Batman?

The player has items and gadgets at his disposal, but some are just lame and pointless. The batterang and grapple hook are available, but the game doesn?t use them to their full potential. Gas grenades and the flock of bats items will go unused as there never really is a good time to use them due to the fact that the player has to first select the item by tapping the Select button several times.

Level design is pretty basic as well. Each level focuses on starting at point A and ending at point B while fighting bad guys and platforming along the way. However, it just totally sucks that you have to start at the beginning of the level if you die. The game has a convenient battery back up save function, why can?t there be checkpoints as well? But it is cool that the player will play as both Bruce Wayne and Batman in character specific levels.

The graphics of this game play on both sides of the spectrum. Characters move very fluidly as they are composed of many frames of animation, but the backgrounds are incredibly confusing. Batman Begins probably has the worst case of background blending on GBA. Each background object looks like it is in the foreground, which means the object appears interactive, but it really is not. Things like stacks of boxes or barrels seem like natural places for Batman to jump and climb on, but they wind up just being non-interactive eye-sores. A player?s frustration level will increase rather quickly when that player is trying to sneak up on an enemy from a ledge above, only to realize that that ledge doesn?t exist. It is neat that character models will actually lighten or darken when light or shadow hits them, like in the GBA version of Catwoman, but it still looks a little unnatural. It seems like the developers really wanted to incorporate this function into the game, but it comes off as a little forced as the colors seem a bit washed out.

For some reason, the music in this game is always loud and obnoxious. It is just a repetitive mess of digitized notes that always sounds louder than it should. I actually kept lowering the volume of the GBA, but the music seemed to keep creeping up to the same decibel level. The loud and in-your-face repulsive tunes are inescapable.

One of the biggest let-downs is the lack of the batmobile, especially considering it played a bigger role in the movie. More mini game driving levels could have spiced up the game play and added replay value, so it is a wonder as to why something like this was not included in the final product. Bummer.

One other thing that has been bothering me lately with EA games is how they just jump right into the game. When players first boot up this game, they immediately start right into the quest. The game does not go to the title screen. Only after the first initial training stage is complete does it go to the title screen. Some gamers will despise this no title screen idea as they do not get to see which options they can change. While it?s not that big of a deal, it is necessary to bring it attention before it starts happening more and more. Give gamers what they are used to, the title screen first!

Batman Begins is not a bad game by any means; it just really isn?t a good one either. If you played the GBA versions of Wolverine?s Revenge, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, or even Bruce Lee, there really isn?t a reason to play this game as it is a rehashed use of their gameplay engines. Begins is the best Batman game on the GBA, but that really isn?t saying much considering how bad Vengeance and Rise of Sin Tzu were. There are some good ideas here, but the combat needs some touching up, the backgrounds blending is nothing short of ridiculous, and the lack of replay value give this game a basic score. If you are looking for a solid action fighting game, play Astro Boy instead.

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