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Catwoman Xbox Review

NA

| Action in Gaming | Posted: Aug 22, 2004 4:00 am

Movie licenses aren't usually the best games and are often accused of cashing in on a movie. However EA as a company has in most cases kept away from movie licenses and focused on creating original content. Spiderman 2 proved that movie games don't have to be shockers, all it takes is the developer to really consider how the movie should play out on a console rather than just porting the movie into a gameplay experience. Unfortunately, Catwoman fits into the latter category and although it has some impressive aspects, it fails in many others.

For those who don't know the story of the film, Catwoman tells the story of a young woman murdered when she discovers a secret project happening in her town one night. Her body is washed ashore where a cat named midnight brings her back to life and thus Catwoman is born. Catwoman is determined to uncover the conspiracy and find out exactly why her original self was murdered. The game seems to follow the film storyline without too many changes, which can be a recipe for disaster with games.

Catwoman is a third person action game and you take the persona, who is played by Halle Berry in the film. EA appear to have licensed the character right down to including a digital Berry which is one highlight of the game but other than that there is not much to write home about. Catwoman basically tasks you with moving from one area to another dispatching enemies when required. It controls like your typical third person action game, e.g. Tomb Raider, but the level design can be incredibly frustrating. If you're not inch perfect with moves in some cases, you are punished and punished hard. The movement can be inconsistent but most of the time once you have figured out how to do something you will be able to progress easily a second third or even fourth time.

The first problem with the game is the lack of direction it pushes you in. The tutorial included really doesn't help enough and you will find yourself looking at the manual often to figure out just how to do some moves. Continuing this problem is the mission objectives. Each mission tasks you with doing a number of different moves such as 'scaredy cat', but that is actually not the mission objective. In fact the objective is just to reach an area and the game does not restrict you from progressing without completing the special move requirements, you will just have less crystals to spend on special moves for Catwoman. To give an example, one level's goal is to enter a nightclub but the game does not mention this which can lead you to look at a walk through guide, which are available.

Another problem is the combat system. Catwoman has the basic moves such as the ability to whip characters and kick, but it's the way you have to defeat enemies. Rather than just kicking the daylights out of them until they don't get up, the developers have strategically placed special areas to kick them in such as a bin. The confusing aspect is that the only way to defeat enemies is to kick them in these areas. In many ways it makes sense because it allows Catwoman to reach other areas but surely they could have come up with a different way to do it.

Between missions you can spend the crystals you have acquired on new moves for Catwoman. These moves are performed with different button presses and include the ability to disarm enemies with a whip, or use the whip to bring enemies closer. These moves are fairly basic to execute most of the time and adds a small layer of depth to the game and a reason to try and perform all the missions special moves.

The AI is also not great and only offers fairly basic attacks. Considering the amount of health and lives Catwoman has (if Catwoman dies, the game continues on in the same area minus one life), as long as you can get through the level design not much of a challenge will be found. The main challenge comes from the level design which can be the most frustrating aspect of the game. Throughout the levels you will find yourself jumping from walls to poles, to mesh and other objects and you will also discover that a wrong button press can drop you from the top of an area to the bottom having to do it all again. There is also really no indication as to where Catwoman should be jumping from or to and again this can lead you to look at a guide.

The game contains a number of levels and each level contains two sub levels. You can replay any completed area at anytime which can help you boost your number of crystals, but chances are you won't want to because you will just be relieved to get past the area without being punished heavily for a wrong button press. One thing that heavily contributes to this factor is the fixed camera. This can lead you to believe that Catwoman is in a certain area and ready to jump to the next platform when she isn't and ends up tumbling to the ground. Visually the game is not overly impressive other than the Catwoman character model, with the sound not great either except for the notable dance track in the night club level.

The problems with Catwoman don't really show themselves until an extended period of play but once they do they become frustrating and bring the game down heavily. There are some impressive aspects and generally the game is fairly playable but the problems really hamper the gameplay and it is likely that frustration will quickly set in when playing.

 

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