Monday, October 29, 2012

Blasts from the Past: Batman Forever

 Believe me, I'll take the movie over this trash any day!
It's generally accepted by most Batman fans that the movies started to decline in quality after the departure of Tim Burton, who despite not having much experience with action movies at the time did a great job with the first movie, and even made a decent (but incredibly dark, flawed, and bitter) sequel. However after Batman Returns scared away any possible marketing to children, WB booted Burton off the franchise and replaced him with Joel Schumacher who sadly tried to pull Batman back to the campiness of the Adam West TV show, despite Burton's dark, and mature version being the new public mind-set on Batman which was also aided by the popular Batman Animated series.

In my previous review of the SNES version of Batman Returns I stated that each game tie-in is relative to the quality of its respective movie...and I was slightly wrong, since at least Batman Forever while definitely not a good movie was somewhat enjoyable; there is absolutely no enjoyment to be had from this horribly rushed, badly programmed excuse for a game.

Once again the plot of the game mirrors that of its movie; former district attorney Harvey Dent has become the monstrous thug Two-Face and is wrecking havoc on Gotham City. Also, former Wayne Enterprises researcher Edward Nygma has decided to take revenge for his neural television implanting device being rejected and both becomes the criminal known as the Riddler, and modifies his device into a IQ draining device which he tricks almost all of Gotham into using. Together, Batman and his new partner Robin must stop these mad-men before its too late.

The story in the movie wasn't very good and like Wayne mentions in the movie "it just raises too many questions", and since the game mirrors the plot its not very good either. In fact, the only story segments are before each level as the Bat-computer briefs players on the situation.

Art Direction
Technically the character models look pretty good and are animated very well, and while Batman and Robin both look rather silly, there is a decent variety of different enemies. Backgrounds also look pretty good, but mostly consist of dark buildings, with the exception of the circus stage. The music though can get incredibly repetitive as it loops constantly and is really nothing more than a few notes. And there are some voices in the game, buts its mostly grunts, and cries of pain.

I can say this without a doubt, that Batman Forever is one of the WORST, MOST BROKEN GAMES I HAVE EVER HAD THE DISPLEASURE OF PLAYING IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! Like its predacessor, Batman Forever is a side-scrolling beat-em-up, however unlike its predacessor, it borrows heavily from the Mortal Kombat engine for both its button layout and controls. Batman and Robin both have a high and low kick and punch with a roundhouse and sweep kick, and a block button to reduce damage taken, then worst of all there is the grappling hook, which is mounted to the select button; this is not only an unsual mapping choice, but also an incredibly frustrating one since in order to aim the hook you must press the select button and then quickly press up to aim upward or the device will fire diagonally. And even weirder is the button combination to drop down from platforms which is R and down, but weird mapping and controls aside lets talk about this game's absolute deal breaker.

Batman and Robin both have a batarang and an explosive gadget used for breaking open safes, plus two special gadgets for combat which are chosen before the level, ranging from damaging  projectiles to movement hindering gases and goos. These moves are activated, once again, similarly to special moves in Mortal Kombat with button combinations like down, forward, A, or forward, back, forward, back, Y. But good luck EVER getting these gadets to work since the controls are horribly broken and nine times out of ten you will NOT get the gadget to activate and will recieve an enemy's punch for your troubles. And if that wasn't enough to make you pull your hair out, the game DOES NOT tell you how to do the moves at all, you are forced to figure them out yourself which once again, the broken controls make practically impossible!

Also be prepared to die, A LOT in this game since the enemies have the advantage of being able to use their special moves whenever they want to, while you struggle with the controls just trying to throw a friggin batarang, and even when you finally manage to throw a projectile, they immediately duck it, and wail on you while you attempt to throw another. And if that wasn't bad enough, this game comes with annoyingly long load times in between rooms and the enemies just love to kick you back through doors so you have to suffer two load screens just to get back into the fight! And finally, there are several instant death pits that enemies can easily toss you in many times thus claiming many of your lives in a small time-frame, but the worst comes from stage 3 in which you are racing against a timer and like the rest of the game are not given any direction on where to go or what to do to win,which by the way if that time expires, and no matter how many lives you have GAME OVER, BACK TO THE BEGINNING, NO CONTINUES which results in stage 3 being a controller busting, aneurism inducing NIGHTMARE!!

The game can be played cooperatively, but this turns into even more of a hinderance since both players will constantly be getting in each other's way due to being unable to pass through each other, and if one player accidently walks or falls through a door, you once again get to endure two loading screens to get back to where you were. This along with with the shared lives will just result in you and you're co-op partner pitching your controllers either at each other or at the TV screen, and is not recommended unless you are trying to make your friend suffer along with I did. There is a training mode where you and a friend can choose to be any of the enemy characters (each with their own non-working special move set) and battle it out, but the novelty wears of incredibly quick.

The game also features multiple collectibles that you will NEVER be able to find without a walkthrough due once again to the lack of direction the game gives you other than the Riddler's riddle box which give you very vague hints. Blueprints will unlock four new gadgets, but once again, the game doesn't tell you how to use them so its ultimately pointless. Health pick-ups are rather frequent but extra lives are incredibly rare.

Closing Thoughts
There are absolutely NO redeeming aspects to this game at all, its just a horribly rushed piece of garbage, meant to help market a shoddy (but entertaining) movie in a declining franchise. I feel bad just having paid 7$ for it, so please, AVOID THIS GAME AT ALL COSTS!!


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