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More Reviews

Batman Vengeance (Xbox)
The Dark Knight returns to greatness on the Xbox.
By - Jason D'Aprile

The Dark Knight has been making the rounds a lot lately, thanks to Ubi Soft's aggressive cross platform campaign of his latest adventure, Batman: Vengeance. First released on the PS2, the game proved to be a surprisingly good comic book adventure that stayed true to the Batman cartoon show, and sported great graphics, topnotch sound, and a commendable mix of gameplay elements. Vengeance was subsequently released on the GameCube, and now hits Microsoft's system with impressive results.

It isn't a stretch to call this the best version yet. Markedly improved graphics over the PS2 version (including constant 60 fps action, instead of the PS2's 30), and a full-on Dolby Digital soundtrack through the whole game (instead of just during specific, pre-rendered cinematic sequences) are the highlights of the Xbox rendition. Other than that, the game is essentially the same. Of course, bearing in mind that Vengeance is one of the best super hero themed games out there (second only to the original Spider-Man), it's a welcome addition to the Xbox library.

Batman: Vengeance plays out like a generally well-written computer generated episode of the cartoon series. The game opens with the avenger of the night stumbling across a kidnapped woman, a bomb rigged to blow, and the Joker's calling card to round everything out. Following the leads of who this mysterious woman is, and why the Joker is after her leads Batman into a web of deception, illusion, and lots and lots of comic book style action.

With Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn showing up to bolster the villainous line-up, Vengeance sports plenty of familiar faces and voices. The audio work is terrific, with Kevin Conroy lending his voice to Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and other solid voice actors that fans of the series are sure to recognize. The powerful and dramatic musical score and most of the sound effects (also taken from the series), are excellently done as well, lending plenty of audio atmosphere to the nighttime adventures.

Graphically, this comic adventure is topnotch. Ubi Soft has managed to capture the look of the show almost perfectly, and the sharper graphics and higher resolution really let Vengeance shine on the Xbox. Batman in particular is fantastic looking, with animation so refined that even his cape reacts in a realistic manner. The Gotham locales you'll skulk through are just as cool looking. From Gotham City Bridge, sewers, plants, labs, to the mean streets and rooftop of the city, everything in the game fits the dark, animated look, and the textures are topnotch. The game is colorful and detailed without looking overly realistic, so the illusion of the comic book theme is never broken.

The gameplay in Vengeance runs a wide course, which tends to muddle the good parts of it. Most of the game is standard run, jump, and beat 'em up third-person action, but the developer tried to change the pace with some driving, flying, and freefalling sequences. While these levels add a sense of variety, they basically play out on rails and involve timing maneuvers and avoiding obstacles.

As any Batman fan would expect, the Dark Knight has an array of gadgets at his disposal. Batarangs, flash bombs, nets, a stunner, the Bat Grapple, and remotely detonated charges all come into play throughout his mission. Learning to use them effectively is vital to Batman's survival. Armed thugs can be disarmed from a distance with a well-aimed Batarang, the grapple hook is used to reach higher spots, and the Bat Cape allows long, gliding jumps. On his own, Batman can put down opponents with an array of martial arts moves, and once an opponent is subdued, the Bat Cuffs ensure their capture.

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