Super Types

January 20, 2011

The Comics Console: X-Men: Destiny, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

Finally, the first screen shots for X-Men: Destiny are here! X-Men: Destiny is the first X-Men game that allows you to build and become your own mutant. Enjoy!

For more on X-Men: Destiny, click here!

Have you ever been so excited about a game that you follow every news bit, developer interview, and screen shot, from the moment it’s announced all the way to its release? Then when it finally comes out, you buy it, then after playing it for a while, you realize it’s an absolutely horrible game? That was basically my experience in 2003 with Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu. As a hardcore Batman fan boy, it’s only natural for me to get worked up over involving the Dark Knight, and I was anxious to see how Ubisoft would make up for their last embarrassment, Batman: Vengeance, not to mention the barely playable Batman: Dark Tomorrow.

Sadly, Rise of Sin Tzu would go down as just another crappy Batman game, but what separates Rise of Sin Tzu from Vengeance and Dark Tomorrow is that as bad as those games were, as a Batman fan, I never almost died from boredom with those games.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Released: Oct. 16, 2003
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
ESRB: Teen

You may be asking yourself who or what a Sin Tzu is, and the answer is pretty much the only interesting aspect of this game. Sin Tzu, created specifically for this game by Jim Lee, is a new crime boss from the east who has traveled to Gotham to challenge Batman for control of the city.

The story shares the same adolescent nature of the animated series the game’s look is based on, but that’s not the issue with Rise of Sin Tzu. Unlike the last Ubisoft Batman game, this game is simply a beat ’em up. Obviously, beat ’em ups can be great games when done right, but, unfortunately, Rise of Sin Tzu is an example of how bad a beat ’em up can be.

The game is insanely boring. Everything from combat, mission objectives, unlockables, cutscenes, all of it is lame and dull. When you start the game, you have the option of playing as either Batman, Robin, Batgirl, or Nightwing. However, the game only allows up to two players. It would have been really cool to actually jump in with all four characters at once. Fundamentally, all four characters play the same, but if you’re playing with a friend, you can perform tag-team moves, and different combinations of caped crusaders allow for different power and speed advantages.

And that’s where everything satisfying about combat ends. You have basic kick, punch, and throw attacks, and timing your button mashing properly results in different combo moves. As you earn points for completing stages, you can buy more combos, but they’re really more trouble than they’re worth to remember or attempt to pull off, since you have to precisely time them when you hit the punch or kick button. You can seriously finish the whole game with only using three buttons. You have an energy meter that, once filled, makes your attacks slightly more powerful, but it doesn’t last long enough to make much of a difference.

You also have a Batarang which you can use to hit exploding barrels, or other objects to help defeat your hordes of enemies, but the aiming mechanic is so broken, you actually have to move within range of an exploding object to hit it, which means you’ll be taking damage as well. Later in the game you can buy a grappling hook which you can use to swing kick foes, and gas bombs to stun them.

You’ll be using these combined abilities to take on an endless army of the same three henchmen. And while you’re taking on these three enemies and their hundreds of clones, you’ll be doing the exact same two missions throughout the entire game: Saving hostages and defusing bombs. Seriously, aside from the few boss battles, that is literally all you do in the game. Beat up the same enemy a thousand times, save citizens, and take care of bombs. This is the reason why this game is so tedious to play. There is so little diversity in the gameplay that once you’ve played the first level, you’ve experienced the entire game.

Even the boss battles are pathetic and uninteresting. You don’t even get to fight any of the big names in Batman’s rogues gallery. On your way to challenging Sin Tzu, you’ll cross Scarecrow, Bane, and Clayface. That’s it. No Joker, no Ra’s Al Ghul, no Two Face. And if the journey to the final boss didn’t clue you in already, the game is embarrassingly short, which I’m actually not sure is a good or bad thing. Depending on if you’re playing with a friend, you can run through the whole game in just a few hours.

This art by Jim Lee is more interesting than anything you'll find in the game.

The graphics and cutscenes aren’t exactly pushing the graphical limits of the era, and the the PS2 version had some frame rate issues at times. Sound design is just as mediocre, though Kevin Conroy and the rest of the cast of Batman: The Animated Series reprise their roles, which is cool, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa provides the voice for Sin Tzu, which is awesome.

If you’re a hardcore completist, and force yourself to finish the game, you are rewarded with such great unlockables like low resolution pictures of Batman action figures! Yup, pictures of toys. How fun. There are also pictures of comic book covers and character models. Hooray! The only unlockable that still isn’t worth a damn, it just sucks less than the crappy figure images, is Time Trial mode, which is basically just more of the campaign.

I can’t stress enough how lame this game is, and even the biggest of Batman fans will want to avoid it. If the idea of the Sin Tzu character interests you at all, then I recommend reading the novelization of this game, written by Devin Grayson, with the same title. Even if you’re just looking for an easy budget title to get you through the weekend, you can do much better than Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu. I’m pretty amazed that this game got high marks when it was originally dropped in 2003, and it certainly has not held up well over the last eight years.

It’s been proven that beat ’em ups can be great games. Last year’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a great example of that, but Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu just plain sucks. Do yourself a favor, and forget this game ever existed.

For more segments of The Comics Console, click here!

Andrew Hurst


One Comment

  1. LOL! I never finished the Batman game because I was just tired of playing it! It was actually fun for about an hour and then it went down hill from there. You’re right about the repition and even thouhg that happens in a LOT of games there was nothing to break it up so you didn’t get really bored really fast.

    When I was at NYCC there was very little info about X-Men Destiny other than people getting their pics taken in front of a green screen then choosing a background to be placed into. The screen shots look pretty good though and it’s nice to have some more info on the game now.

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