Dark Knight: Batman takes flight in video gamesWritten by Michael Siebenaler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Batman media blitz is on and the video game realm offers many choices, especially since the Christopher Nolan “Batman/Dark Knight” film trilogy began in 2005 with Batman Begins. The one-player Batman Begins game (**1/2 on PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox) is a Warner Brothers and DC Comics collaboration with Electronic Arts that features stealth and stark realism. The weapons cache is deep, but controlled (e.g., you get limited freedom in special weapons like grenades). The flashbang grenades and high frequency (HF) transponder, which uses sound waves to summon bats, come in handy in later missions. Healthy habits like using the optic cable to size up battle situations reduce those trial-and-error frustrations. Blocks, countermoves, multiple attacks and special final finishing moves, all prompted on the screen, can make gameplay even easier. There have been no video game adaptations of the later Nolan films, but gamers can still enjoy various games involving the Caped Crusader and even his partner Robin.
LEGO Batman: The Videogame (***) released on mobile, Mac, PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2 and 3, PSP, and Nintendo DS in 2008, the same year The Dark Knight, the second Nolan film, hit theaters. This fun, action-filled, platformer features formulaic fun with beat ’em up action, creative environment interactions, special suits and a few puzzles with recognizable characters that grunt, hum and wince instead of speaking audible character dialogue. Each hero and villain has unique actions, which developers use toward creating the base story mode from both perspectives. Players can then replay each level in free mode once completing the story mode mission. Wayne Manor provides a nice base for gameplay choices among the 15 hero levels complemented by the 15 villain levels. Multiple players can easily drop in and out of gameplay. A solid, all-age title with considerable replay value including bonus content and unlockables found in free play mode.
In 2009, Batman Arkham Asylum (***1/2 on PS3, also on (Mac, PC, Xbox 360) really let Batman spread his wings with expanded movements and huge open world scenarios. Next year the near perfect Batman Arkham City (**** on PS3, PC, Xbox 360) where players can expect strong action and problem- solving amid the creepy Arkham Asylum setting as The Joker unfolds another master plan. The graphics are clean except for a few clipping and camera angle issues, which occasionally block views of the amazing finishing fight moves. Jumps, swings and ledge climbs have locked mechanics, so if players hit the correct movement button or do not intentionally walk off the edge, they can easily avoid any pitfalls. Be patient and wait for reveals to avoid unnecessary trial-and-error frustrations. Easy fighting mechanics and gadgets like explosive gel and the grappling hook keep the core Batman action intact. Great extras include an in-game Riddler’s challenge and several add-on bundles. Players can also grab the Batman: Arkham City Collector’s Edition (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) as well as some cool peripherals like the batarang controller. Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame (**1/2 for Wii and DS), based on the successful television series, also released in 2010 with more traditional comic style visuals, sharp controls and humorous banter amid an appealing four chapter story.
Now the third Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises, raises the bar even higher for developers to match the magnitude in the Batman related games. The first-person shooter Gotham City Impostors (*** on PS3, PC, Xbox 360) is now free for PlayStation Plus members. This Batman game adds wild mayhem, multiplayer options, inventive weapons and multiplayer options. Creativity is rules as players can customize characters — The Bats and The Jokerz. This Monolith Productions project features over-the-top gameplay, maps, and options like costumes, homebrewed gadgets and a wide range of traditional and imagined weapons.
The most recent Batman video game, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (*** on PS Vita, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS, PC), adds audible character dialogue and more special suits. Developed by TT Games, this game is easy to pick up and play and, as the subtitle implies, includes other DC heroes and their respective powers including Superman (heat vision) and The Flash (fast running speed) plus many others and some surprise characters. In the PS Vita version vehicles like motorcycles, boats, and helicopters entice in the cut scenes, but not within gameplay, so instead of using Catwoman’s bike or Two-Face’s vehicle players can only destroy them. Players can replay each level in free mode once completing the story mode mission. The handheld console versions include a Justice League Alliance game mode — a battle challenge set against DC Universe villains. A Mac version is scheduled for an August 2012 release.
Special note: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the shooting victims at the movie theater in Colorado and to their families/friends.