3/31/2004 6:58:08 AM
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu Xbox Review
By Zach Rosenberg
Let's face the sheer facts: the "Batman" license has never been used well. A Batman game has appeared on every console out there, and every time, it's been a subpar and lacking title that leaves fans wondering why Capcom won't include DC in their "Versus" series fighting games. Ubisoft's newest entry into the Batman bin is "Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu," and, for all intents and purposes, it should probably be locked away with the others. But don't let that discourage you too much. This game might be a great bargain bin game if you're really into the Dark Knight.
Modeled after the Warner Bros. cartoon, "Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu" is faithful in many ways and styles, which fans will appreciate. Though I stopped watching the Batman cartoons after the first series in the early 90s, I could quickly recognize many of the elements translated over to the game. Even characters I'd known from the original series appear in this game, like the Scarecrow, Clayface, and Bane. There are also favorite Gotham City locales like the Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately, this is where my love affair with the game stopped. Cries of "this is just like 'The Hulk'" and "this is just like 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'" could be heard from my living room. In fact, this game is A LOT like Vivendi's "Hulk" and Konami's "Turtles." It's a standard beat-em-up, devoid of anything that makes the game stand out, aside from the license.
But don't let all of that discourage you--let THIS discourage you: it's a button-masher. There is a moves system that allows you to buy and upgrade your moves as you go, and you'll learn new combos and skills, but you won't use them too much. The game's waves of faceless enemies force you into bashing the punch button until you're blue in the face. It's one of the more common problems in the video game industry, and seen in the games I mentioned already--"The Hulk" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Though it's nice that Ubisoft took the time to include so many moves and combos with the intent of creating a deep control system, there's just no need to use all of the moves and you'll find yourself forgetting and ignoring them all too often. I suppose I should mention that you can play as either Batman, Robin, Batgirl, or Nightwing...but it's not terribly important. They've got small differences, mostly just speed and power, but it's all out of the same bag.
Oh, and you know what I hate? Invisible walls. Get used to them, because in "Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu," there's a lot of them. Why make an open area if you're going to cut it off with invisible walls that prevent you from going to the next area? Don't answer me, programmers--I know WHY, I just don't like it. It doesn't make good design sense to me.
And furthermore, why are all of the levels timed? Man, that chaps my hide.
As for the graphics...they aren't bad. Like I said, they're faithful to the cartoon, and that's what matters to me. They're not the best I've seen in video games, but they're certainly not the worst. What disappointed me was that most of the baddies look alike: you'll beat up the same three guys for almost the whole game. Interestingly enough, early on, the Scarecrow's henchmen will throw poison bombs at you, and while you're drugged, you hallucinate, seeing each of the enemies in costumes that I thought would be more apt for the regular game. As for the backgrounds, they're not bad, and are semi-interactive. You can throw enemies into fruit stands and barrels and they'll smash. The cutscenes are pleasant because they, too, are cartoon-faithful. Overall, the graphics do a good job of sticking to the cartoon, which we appreciate.
The sound is on the same level--pretty faithful to the cartoon. The voice acting was of the same caliber to the cartoon, which is greatly appreciated. I was only rubbed the wrong way by the sound effects, which were few and plentiful (meaning a few effects used a lot). The music gets out of hand at times, and other times, you'll just wonder why a track was included in the game.
In all, "Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu" is a game that fans of the cartoon series may get hooked on because of its commitment to staying in line with the cartoon's style. Though the game breaks down to a simple brawler, there are a lot of unlockable extras that give the game a little more to work for, other than "to wipe out all of the look-alike baddies." If you already played the similarly-styled "Hulk" and "Turtles" games, then you might not like this comic and cartoon incarnation, but if you like brawlers, or are a Batman aficionado, then give this one a try.
Graphics: 7. Consistent with the cartoon, which is admirable.
Sound: 6. The same old thing...and a lot of it.
Gameplay: 5. Hmmm...feels like Hulk and TMNT poorly blended together.
Story: 8. Following the cartoon and cartoon features, this story is purely Batman.
Replayability: 5. I guess. But why?
Overall: 6 (not an average). Uninspired, but not terrible.
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu Xbox Review