Christopher Nolan has announced the title for his new Batman film, the third installment in the series. According to Perezhilton.com, the film will be titled The Dark Night Rises. Surely people will get a “rise” out of that title, it is kind of a let down. It’s surprising that with all those cinematic tricks up Nolan’s sleeve he couldn’t come up with a better title. I guess he’s not so good with words. In any case, the film is sure to be a blockbuster.
Nolan also announced that despite the whirlwind of rumors, The Riddler will not be one of the villains in the film. Wow, another let down. So who can the new villain be? Maybe Bane, or Catwoman? If the title doesn’t sell the film a screen siren in a leather catsuit definitely will. Hopefully it’s not Ellen Page, not so sexy in Inception.
So The Dark Night Rises is being filmed in New Orleans, it has a lame title, and there is no Riddler? Oy vey, Nolan better deliver something good soon.
Since the days of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, most of the big time comic book heroes have in one way or another had a video game out for one of the latest systems; some for all.
Sometimes an animated series such as Justice League will get decent ratings so we see a game come out for Gameboy Advance. Most of the time, superheroes hit the big screen and we see games such as the Punisher and Hulk on store shelves. And sometimes a comic book character is popular enough all by him or herself that a game gets made such as Superman: Man of Steel for Xbox.
But one Superhero has had a game come out for all these reasons and for the most part ? even on the older systems ? they have not been too spectacular. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about Batman.
It has been a long time since anyone has made a great Batman video game. Spider-man was done justice in his movie-based game after the sequel came out; the game for Spider-Man 2 was a third-person action game with the freedom of an interactive and very accurate New York City.
In my opinion, with Batman Begins (available for Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube), now would have been the perfect time to offer a similar game.
Imagine, the freedom to be able to go down into the Bat Cave, choose your costume, hop in the Batmobile and head into Gotham to swoop from rooftop to rooftop, track clues, rough of some thugs, and maybe catch a little tail with Catwoman. Alas, I’m not a game developer… just yet.
Now enough of my ranting and let us get down to business. With Batman Begins, much like the theme of the movie, the theme of this third-person action game is fear.
It’s nearly impossible to fight enemies before scaring them and a heart-rate meter, which automatically appears when Batman puts up his dukes against a foe, suggests when is the best time to strike.
Players have to stealthily creep through ceiling vents, climb across rooms by monkey-barring pipes and dart straight up to building ledges via bat-grapple. Nearby enemies will chat amongst each other about how they heard that “the bat ate this guy’s soul last week.”
Typically, a batarang has to be thrown at an object in order to startle enemies so that they get freaked out and drop their weapons. I recall the Arkham asylum level specifically, when a few thugs were chatting by the morgue and after throwing a batarang at a locked chamber, I got a cut-scene of dead bodies flopping on the floor ? I’ll admit, it was the perfect touch.
After a while though, I started to realize that other than the Batmobile level, the strategy of the game is extremely repetitive: sneak through room, chuck a batarang to make muggers run around in circles, beat the crap out of them and move on. Sometimes you’ll have to interrogate an enemy in order to get access codes to doors for example, but the game makes it so that there are only certain characters who can be interrogated.
This has to be one of the fundamental flaws of Batman Begins: the game allows no creativity whatsoever. You can’t just throw a batarang whenever you want or at whatever you want, nor grapple up to just any rooftop. Instead you have to look for the automatic crosshair that will indicate when you can do any of that fun stuff. Thus, in theory, there’s only one pole you can climb, one window you can jump through, one way to beat the game and when you play this game you will be quick to learn what I’m talking about.
Graphic-wise the game looks beautiful. Not only is it thrilling to tear through Gotham’s streets in the Batmobile ? especially when you hit the button for nitrous, in which case the engine fire will turn blue and cars and buildings begin to blur right by ? but I do appreciate it when game designers recognize the importance of details. The environments are always dark and murky: black trees stretch over the streets, warehouses remain dimly lit with rustic looking lights, heck, when you look outside a broken window you can see a skyline over Gotham in which case the dark grey clouds move.
Characters in the game are nicely modeled after the actors in the movie ? you can see the freckles on Morgan Freeman’s face for example. Coupled with the fact that it’s the real actors’ voices in the game, I found that it helped to get me immersed. If you have one of those six-speaker home theatre set-ups, this game offers Dolby surround sound, a solid bonus.
For the most part, I seemingly comes down hard on Batman Begins but I assure you, I did enjoy the game. The fact of the matter however is that I purchased the game and beat it in less than ten hours. Once you beat the game you unlock movie trailers, alternate costumes and access to the Batmobile levels whenever you like but even for a comic book nerd like yours truly, these options get old fast.
Thus my advice to you is to rent this game if you’re thinking of buying it. My ten year-old brother is still working on it but a mature gamer will surely zip through it in no time. Believe you me, there’s nothing worse than having a brand new game collecting dust the day after you buy it.
Johnny Keogh’s gaming column can be read every Wednesday on andPOP.