Batman is a franchise which has been around for quite some time. After countless movies, a cartoon and a few video games we have this new one which introduces a new character to the Batman Universe. What this game is, is a decent arcade beat em up action title which fans of older games such as Double Dragon will enjoy immensely.
Batman: The Rise of Sin Tzu is the latest Batman game to come out of the licence Ubisoft acquired. As the name of the game implies, it is the introduction of a new character to the Batman universe, a new villain named Sin Tzu and obviously the game revolves around him quite a bit. At the start of the game we see Batman place a rose on the ground and a photo of the commissioner and his wife, Batman seems to vow revenge before the action begins.
The game is a 3D arcade beat em up action title which some gamers may shy away from. You play as one of four characters from the universe; Batman, Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing. Your choice dictates your abilities. The game doesn't change at all depending on which character you choose, but each character has different abilities in the hand to hand combat arena. The game basically consists of moving through level to level defeating enemies and then taking on the boss character for that section. Each area consists of two levels before a boss fight, although the first boss fight isn't encountered until about four levels are completed.
As mentioned before the game is officially licensed and features accurate depictions of Batman and the other characters as well as the villains such as the Scarecrow. The cut scenes are presented in the cartoon style of the television series of recent years and really portray the storyline well. The call for Batman as usual is the light in the sky, and the commissioner is the one who gives your character their next mission via a video phone.
There are a few problems with Batman but for fans of the genre these probably won't apply. As with most 3D beat em ups the game can become quite repetitive quickly. Your missions can consist of rescuing civilians, disarming bombs or taking down a boss character. With the exception of boss characters, you will be facing a time limit in most cases which makes the pace of the game much quicker, but because of this your likely to get hit more as you can't take your time blocking enemy attacks. The game essentially boils down to beating up lots of characters to get through an area and then defeating a boss character. We can't be to harsh on the game due to this because this is what the genre of arcade beat em ups essentially is.
As mentioned before you can play as one of four characters and each have different special moves. At the completion of each mission you will be given the opportunity to buy new moves for your character. These moves are performed with various button pushes and somewhat alleviate the repetitive nature of the combat featured in the game. Pausing the game will allow you to look at the controls for the moves which can be helpful. As well as the hand to hand combat, each character has some weapons they can use. Batman has a boomerang and hook which he can swing on, Batgirl, Nightwing and Robin have a boomerang by default. You can also pick up weapons along the way such as smoke grenades. As you defeat enemies a metre builds up and this gives you a power combo to use.
The main challenge you will get from the game is from the boss characters. The street thugs aren't to difficult to defeat, the challenge comes from them crowding around you and outnumbering you rather then being smart. There are tougher thugs you will encounter at times and they feature more health. Some of the enemy characters carry weapons. When your character is defeated, you can continue from that same spot but you lose a life, by default you have three extra lives when you begin the game but you can find more as you progress through the game. There is no mid level save either, so should you succumb to the enemy, you have to start that level all over again. If you do get stuck there are codes which can be used to help, turning the machine off disables them.
The game uses a fixed camera which is useful, and the angle will spin around to always be behind the action. The level design is well done. You will visit alleyways, China Town, a prison, the interior of a building, running across a bridge and others. Sometimes the environments can provide hazards or be helpful to you. You can pick up rubbish bins etc and throw them at enemies, but the AI can do the same so watch out. The environments are semi-destructible which gives a nice graphical effect, throw a thug into a dumpster and it will dent a little, with papers flying out etc.
Batman: The Rise of Sin Tzu features some nice graphical effects such as the blur effect caused by Scarecrows gas. The game is presented in a cartoon style, but don't expect it to be cel shaded like XIII. The frame rate is stable even when there is a lot of action and characters on the screen and the animations etc of the characters is quite good. The voice acting is impressive, and the soundtrack is based around the rock genre and works quite well with the game.
Multiplayer is offered on the same console only and is only two players in the PS2 version. You can complete the campaign together however. Also there is another mode called challenge and this either pits you against thugs or the clock. Against the thugs you have to beat a certain number, and then a new arena is unlocked. In against the clock you have to remain alive for a period of time.
Arcade beat em up games appear to be a dying breed. Whilst Batman: The Rise of Sin Tzu isn't the best one available, it remains true to the traditions of the genre whilst working with a famous franchise. If you're looking for a game which you can load up once in a while for a quick thirty minute bash or are a fan of old games in the vein of titles such as Double Dragon then check this one out, for $49.95 it won't break the bank either.
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