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November 2002



Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)

Preview: Batman: Arkham City (360, PC, PS3)

Review: Lego Batman (Wii)




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Batman: Dark Tomorrow


Batman: Dark Tomorrow (NGC, PS2, XB) Preview          Batman: Dark Tomorrow (NGC, PS2, XB) Preview


Crime runs rampant in Gotham City. What makes it such a magnet for such villainous maniacs as The Joker, Mr. Freeze, Scarface, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy? Is it the dankness, the dreary gloom, the whacked-out architecture? Or is Bruce Wayne secretly paying them to stick around and cause trouble so Batman can play the hero again and again? Kemco probably won’t answer that question with their



foray into the darkness of Gotham City with Batman: Dark Tomorrow (B:DT), but at least gamers will have another go at donning the cape and cowl.

The story, spawned from the mind of Scott Peterson and tweaked by Kenji Terada, has Gotham City plunged into chaos with a massive crime wave, the kidnapping of Police Commissioner Gordon,


and a violent gang turf war. (This is why real estate prices in Gotham are always rock bottom.) Peterson has worked on Batman stories for the comics and Terada was involved with the first two Final Fantasy games.

Thrown into the mix is the usual menagerie of super (and not so super) villains including, but not limited to, Black Mask, Ratcatcher, and, my favorite, Killer Croc. Taking into account Gotham’s nightmarish mish-mash of buildings and infrastructure it’s almost a sure bet that Batman will face-off against the bosses on their own turf. (i.e. Ratcatcher in the sewers.) The infamous Arkham Asylum is mentioned by name and its inclusion practically guarantees that there will either be an inmate breakout or an actual visit to the psychiatric hell to fight the inmates, the most famous being The Joker who seems to be able to come as go from Arkham at will. One of the gang leaders involved is none other than Scarface – that hand puppet from Hell that is really handy with a Tommy gun. Eventually Batman will have to showdown with each of them to unravel the kidnapping of Gordon (who is reportedly being held at Arkham) and put an end to the crime wave -- and possibly save the world.


Batman: Dark Tomorrow (NGC, PS2, XB) Preview   Batman: Dark Tomorrow (NGC, PS2, XB) Preview   Batman: Dark Tomorrow (NGC, PS2, XB) Preview


With Ubisoft’s Batman: Vengeance as the most recent basis for comparison, gamers should expect B:DT to either live-up to that game or exceed it. Ubisoft managed to capture the various Bat-devices used in the Animated Series, and Kemco is looking to capture the devices found in the comics with a fully-loaded utility belt and various bat-items. The ubiquitous batarang is back, but he also has access to smoke pellets and a universal tool. (When I see “universal tool” I always think lock-picking puzzles and disabling security systems, so its almost a given that there will stealth elements involved during a mission.) Besides some ranged attacks, Batman’s main form of attack has always been fist-to-jaw and knee-to-groin melee flurries. He may soften a target with a well-placed batarang but he always finishes up toe-to-to. Once he’s done pummeling them, Batman always does the right thing by cuffing the perp – and never giving him a few kicks when he’s down.

Graphically, B:DT impresses. This is a more “realistic” Batman design, seemingly based on the comic book Batman. However, reports from E3 didn’t have much good to say about the camera, which seems to flip-flop from scene to scene in an inconsistent manner. In an action game, the camera is extremely important – especially when you have a character as mobile as Batman. Plus, it could make targeting enemies with ranged weapons a real pain. Looking good is one thing, being easy to watch (and understand) for long stretches is another. All that being said, darned if it don't look like Metal Gear Solid 2.

The same complaint was also made of the control, which at least one attendee described as, “sloppy.” Kemco should fix this before unleashing B:DT – even if it sets the release date back to Winter 2002/2003. Nothing kills a fighting/action game faster than sloppy controls. If a game looks good, has a great story, and handles like a Yugo with a deftly fastened wrench to the steering column in place of a real steering wheel, the whole thing might as well have been sent directly to the dump.

With hopes running high, Kemco should take their time and get it right. They have a solid premise, a marquee character, interesting locales, and a comic book story suitable to the Batman universe. If everything comes together, Batman: Dark Tomorrow could set the bar higher (or at least clear it) for comic book based videogames when it arrives November 2002.

- Omni
(July 24, 2002)


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