Before the 'Batman: Arkham' series of games came along, this was the epic Batman game and, despite those games, in many ways still is.
It's such an intricate and personal look at Gotham City and the Batman character and moves things along from the film in such a way that Batman fans will be both intrigued and rewarded.
It's not really a free-roaming game, but the locations are fantastic, comprising locations from the film, such as Wayne Manor, Arkham Asylum, the Gotham Docks, Ra's al Ghul's monastery and the monorail tracks whilst expanding on others, especially The Narrows and Carmine Falcone's club. At the same time, unlike the 'Arkham' games, Gotham in this game is not a sightseeing tour, which actually makes it better and, ironically, preserves the sense of scope that Nolan invested in 'Batman Begins' as this is a Gotham where anything goes!
Whilst Nolan's Batman trilogy has drawn to a close, this game seems more ageless than the films, as it has serious hints of Frank Miller's 'Batman: Year One' and Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's 'Batman: The Long Halloween' in there. It's modernistic, but not as tied down in a saga as Nolan made his films. There is a great sense of Falcone's stranglehold over the city, combined with the new threat posed by Dr. Crane and his mysterious partner in crime.
Stalking villains is quite fun, as is interrogating them, and takedowns are not difficult to perform. There are also some Bat-gadgets, albeit not too many.
There are two really stand-out sequences here.
The first is the entire Arkham Asylum sequence, which faithfully adapts locations from the film in building The Scarecrow's domain for gamers to enjoy. Although the asylum is devoid of housing costumed villains at this point (other than the more than creepy Crane, of course), it has the feel of a sort of Hammer Horror film about and is even referred to as being reminiscent of "a cheap slasher" film and gives the player a sense of this location as being as important as one of the key characters in the Batman entire mythos, not just in the events of 'Batman Begins'. Christopher Nolan's wife, Emma Thomas even gets a sly cameo here.
The second and equally enjoyable is (you guessed it) driving the Batmobile. It makes you feel like a kid again and, certainly, out of all the on-screen Batmobiles, this is the one that you'd really want sitting in your driveway!! You get to smash up enemy cars and trucks, use missiles to attack assailants and speed around the streets of Gotham, improving Batman's reputation with ordinary Gothamites by doing genuine good. Even though, like the rest of the game, the driving missions are not free-roaming and are usually time-restricted, they're just as enjoyable as the scenery rushing by looks good and up to the standards of the other locations, whilst the car looks and feels great! But, perhaps the most enjoyable feature of the Batmobile is its turbo- booster, which allows you to jump bridges and squeeze through tight spaces. If only they sold cars like this...hint, hint!
This game has real atmosphere to it and, prior to the 'Arkham' franchise, remained the definitive Batman gaming experience, taking Nolan's realistic Gotham and throwing in heavy hints of what it would be like to actually be Gotham's resident defender.
Added to this are not only cinematics from the film, but the film's main cast reprise their roles in the game as well, all except Gary Oldman (perhaps because Sergeant Gordon makes such a fleeting appearance here). Even Mark Boone, Jr and Tim Booth appear as Detective Flass and Victor Zsasz respectively. And Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow gets an even better treatment than he does in the film, adding to the character's durability, but not ruining his performance in the film itself.
It's just a shame that EA Games pulled their adaptation of 'The Dark Knight', which looked set to do just as great (if not better) work entertaining players as this.
A great game and a great Batman game!
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