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Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action


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PS2 Review - 'Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu'

by Hank on Nov. 12, 2003 @ 2:29 a.m. PST

Genre : Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: November 12, 2003

Buy 'BATMAN: Rise of Sin Tzu':
Xbox | GameCube | Game Boy Advance | PlayStation 2

Walking the edge of the abyss every night, you are an avenger better known as Batman, one who tries with all his might to keep the peace and tranquility of Gotham, a city filled with maniac crazed enemies. A new enemy has surfaced, the powerful Sin Tzu, and Batman needs your help … will you accept his challenge?

“Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu” is the second Batman title to be released from UbiSoft. If you don’t already know, Batman and most Marvel games are all beat-‘em-ups, with players constantly mashing at the buttons to pull off devastating attack combos. So what makes this game better than the others? In my opinion, it’s the endless array of imaginative gadgets: bat grapple, smoke pellet, flash pellet, and the batarang. You simply can’t have a Batman without these bat gadgets. To the bat cave we go!

The game sports a total of five levels and can probably be beaten in four hours or less. There are a total of four stages and bosses that you must fight: Scarecrow, Clayface, Bane, and the final boss, Sin Tzu. In order to actually face these bosses, you must first complete the levels preceding them. On these levels, you must complete two tasks before you can reach your final destination, and the tasks usually involve disarming bombs or rescuing innocent bystanders, after which you must beat the living daylights out of the enemy. The first objective is probably the most difficult because you must complete the task within a certain time limit. I usually cut it way too close for comfort because you must defeat any enemies within the vicinity before you can move on. When I say vicinity, I really mean vicinity, as the game puts up these very nice “invisible barriers” that disappear once the adversaries in the section are defeated. It can be a good thing because you know that you have not defeated all of the opponents yet, but also proves to be a bad thing when the objective is just one step past the barrier and time is running out. It is also extremely annoying when the AI constantly blocks your moves and takes forever to pass, but that’s what it’s there for. When time runs out, you must start the level all over again, and that does not please many players.

Since save points don’t exist, the only time your game is saved is when an entire stage is complete. Within one stage, there are several rooms that you must go through so getting into the last room and not being able to complete the main objective is flat out unpleasant. I would strongly suggest that the player keep an eye out for the timer, and once you have achieved the necessary goal, the timer goes away and lets you focus on annihilating the enemy.

As I have already mentioned, the game is a straight beat-‘em-up, requiring you to activate moves using different combinations of keys. Ubi has devised a system that I have not seen before, which not only requires you to hit the buttons in the correct configuration but also with the proper timing, better known in this game as a delay. It is certainly a clever system, but busting out some of these moves becomes a tedious task. In the end, you will probably be doing the same moves over and over again because the desired move does not come out correctly, meaning either the player has timed it wrong or the game just hasn’t registered it. This is where I would have enjoyed having to hit a more complex button combination and know with some certainty that I would execute the move I desired. It is quite important to be able to utilize these special combinations because they can change the outcome of your battle.

Busting out combos can help in two ways: most importantly, it gives you points to unlock new moves, and it builds up your combo meter. Only four moves are available to the player at the beginning of the game, and the rest must be “unlocked” along the way. I strongly suggest you unlock every possible move because when you do, the game play is taken to a whole different level, and the game is much more enjoyable. My proudest accomplishment was unlocking the electrified batarang … how can you pass up the opportunity to hit four people with one batarang? Naturally, this was done with an upgraded weapon; the standard batarang only hits one enemy at a time. During the course of a battle, combo moves build up your combo meter, which in turn allows you to execute one of many super powerful attacks (which also need to be unlocked) on the enemy. When you get the chance, you must unlock the level 5 final super attack, or else you cannot – let me repeat – cannot beat the final boss.

There is one way to quickly defeat the enemy, but it all depends on the level. If the level has gaps, you can simple knock them off, which kills them instantly. On the last stages, you will truly enjoy these gaps since the AI gets more sophisticated and blocks more of your moves, costing you valuable time. I suggest leading them into the open gap and smacking them off one by one to save time and allow the player to move on a lot faster. Although the enemies can fall off, you cannot, which I find to be a definite plus because I certainly don’t want to accidentally fall over the ledge because I got stuck trying to execute a complicated combination. When you have completed the stages, you can finally face the bosses.

The boss battles all have a puzzle that you must figure out. When fighting Scarecrow, you must find him in all the fog, and with Bane, you have to learn how to dodge his attack and force him to ram himself into the wall, which gives you the window of opportunity to finally attack. These puzzles are not the easiest, but once you have figured them out, the task at hand is a lot easier. The battles may not be simple, but at least you have a fighting chance in defeating the enemy. I’ll leave the other boss battle puzzles for you to figure out.

Another Batman means another different approach for the video and audio of the game. The game maintained the cartoon atmosphere, which is a definite must, but one thing that I did not like about their 3D models is that they gave the characters different physical traits from what I’m used to from the cartoon. Batman looks fine, but Commissioner Gordon looks disproportional, although you can still clearly tell that he is the same old commissioner. You probably won’t see enough of these cut scenes to really care, but rather you will be constantly fighting the enemies and trying to protect Gotham from darkness. The game play is centralized on the fighting, so while the detail of the backgrounds isn’t overdone, it is certainly good enough for you to enjoy the game.

Well the audio does not leave a lasting impression on the player, as it is almost non-existent. The main items you will hear would be battle cries from either your character or the enemy, constantly be repeated over and over again. When there are no cries, you will hear the sound of bones crunching or other pleasant results from your brawls. What is really impressive is the voice acting because the actors’ voices seemed identical to the voices from the cartoon. The only exception is Sin Tzu, who is a new character who was introduced solely for this game, and let me say that his voice acting was superior, and there was no possible way that he could have played his character any better.

Overall, the game was fairly fun, with a few frustrating kinks. The ability to unlock items and play with another player are certainly great additions, but I would have enjoyed the ability to play with four players at once, which most certainly would have offered extra replay value. As for replay, you can attempt this game again on several difficulty levels, but I won’t try it because I’m sure I wouldn’t last a minute under the “Dark Knight” difficulty level. This game is definitely worth picking up for Batman fans, but for everyone else, I would suggest a rental. There are a few flaws that prevent this game from being an absolute must-have, but I would certainly recommend that people give it a shot.

Score: 8.0/10

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