Super Types

October 28, 2010

The Comics Console: Batman: Vengeance

I think we can all agree that Batman: The Animated Series is not only one of the best cartoons based off of a comic book ever, but one of the greatest animated television shows of all time…up until about the fourth season. I mean, Joker with no red lips? The “Critters” episode? Come on, Bruce Timm. Regardless, Batman’s popularity remained strong into the new millennium and into the then “next generation” of video games, and in 2001, Batman: Vengeance, based off the look of the fourth season of BTAS, and what was to be considered the greatest Batman video game of the time, was released and met with great criticism…boy, the bar for good games must have been low in 2001.

Batman: Vengeance

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Released: Nov. 17, 2001
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC
ESRB: Teen

Obviously no Batman game of the past can compare to today’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, and I’ll give the game critics of the last decade some credit; I would probably think Batman: Vengeance was a great Batman game after playing such winners as Batman & Robin and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, but does Vengeance hold up to today’s standards? Hardly. The game starts out with some pretty nice cinematic scenes setting up a typical Gotham City conundrum where Batman has to rescue a kidnapped citizen before a bomb detonates. Your first task as Batman is to navigate a few Gotham rooftops and find the victim. This opening section would have been a lot more compelling if you were actually racing against time ticking down to doom, but I’m glad that wasn’t the case, because immediately you’ll realize how faulted the basic fundamentals of the game are.

The game is a third-person adventure game with lots of platforming elements, meaning you’ll be doing a lot of jumping from one platform to another. This is where my biggest peeve for this game comes into play. The controls are very touchy. Batman doesn’t so much walk or run as he does jerk and dash, making moving into a specific spot, which you’ll need to do to land jumps, difficult. Batman has an extended jump depending on how long you hold the jump button, and by tapping again, Batman will glide with his cape, but this isn’t always enough to make it between buildings or ledge gaps. To make things worse, the game’s landscape rendering isn’t great. Structures have little depth, and coloring often meshes together. This becomes extremely noticeable during the aforementioned platforming areas. I had trouble at the beginning of the game noticing where ledges ended or began, and would sometimes fall to my death just because I couldn’t tell I was running toward the edge of a building.

"Where the hell is that damn bathroom?"

Aside from dying about twelve times in five minuets, the game’s opening is pretty cool with big explosions and credits appearing on screen like some big budget action movie. From there you’ll head to a tutorial in the Batcave where you’ll learn the moves and abilities you’ll be using for the rest of the game.

What would a Batman game be without a fully stocked utility belt, right? Fortunately, you have plenty of cool classic Bat-gadgets at your disposal; unfortunately, you will rarely need most of these wonderful toys. The main staples, the grappling gun and batarangs, are present, as well as electric batarangs, smoke bombs, handcuffs, and a few other tools. Using the shoulder buttons to scroll through your weapons, a la Metal Gear Solid, choosing the grappling gun or a batarang will put you in a first-person view. This works okay in grappling situations, but occasionally the game will expect you to throw a batarang to knock a gun out of an enemy’s hands. Again, the controls are very sensitive, and scrolling your crosshairs over a specific spot is easier said than done, and by the time you’ve scrolled over your enemy’s weapon, you’ve been shot to death by the very gun you’re trying to knock away.

Basic combat in the game isn’t very fulfilling, either. You can string together punches and kicks into power combos, and you’ll learn more combos as you progress, even if you won’t need to use them. Encountering an enemy with a gun without trying to get rid of the gun with a batarang is very frustrating, because getting shot cancels out any punches or kicks you’re trying to throw. The most disappointing aspect of combat is that it just doesn’t look cool. Throwing combos is dull when your opponent has his hands up, appearing to block your shots, even though they are doing damage.

Adding to the frustration is the game’s impossible camera. The camera stays stationary with the player having no control over it. The click of a shoulder button will reset the camera right behind Batman, but it sometimes make things worse in tight spaces. Batman will then be too close to the screen, obscuring your view. Of course the problems with the camera aren’t an issue if you know where the hell you’re going. The game’s bland level design doesn’t help at all with directing you where you’re suppose to run or jump to next. Expect to spend a lot of time exploring small areas for doors or grappling points to advance in the level, or just being completely lost.

Batman has no problem beating up women.

Aside from everything gameplay related, the game is great. The story is like something you’d expect from the animated series. The Joker, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and a few more make up the rouges gallery, and Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, and Arleen Sorkin reprise their roles as Joker, Batman, and Harley Quinn. There are a few Batmobile and Batwing missions that help change up the norm, but it’s nothing you’ll want to play over and over.

I’ll give Ubisoft credit for having such great intentions for a Batman game, and, in 2001, Batman: Vengeance was indeed the Batman game so many fans, including myself, had wished for. I just wish it were a bit more polished. And given all of this game’s problems, it’s still a much better Batman experience than 2003’s Batman: Dark Tomorrow by Kemco.

Bottom line: Should you play it? This is normally the part where I say “hardcore fans of the character will find something to enjoy,” but I am a hardcore Batman mark, and I found a lot of effort I can appreciate, but very little I can enjoy. Just play Batman: Arkham Asylum again.

For more segments of The Comics Console, click here!

Andrew Hurst
andrewhurst@comicattack.net

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4 Comments



  1. I own this game on the GameCube and after playing it for about an hour, I put it down and have yet to pick it back up again. One word about sums it up: BORING.



  2. It must have a LOT of dust on it Andy lol


  3. NotNamedJohn

    Good review; mediocre game. Got any plans to do The Adventures of Batman & Robin on the SNES? Outside of Arkham Asylum I’d have to say it’s my favorite.



  4. […] a long few weeks of less than great games like Aquaman: Battle For Atlantis, Batman: Vengeance, and X2: Wolverine’s Revenge, I needed to take a break and reflect on a few of the things […]



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