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Q3 2004



- Halle Berry in leather pants



- Pretty much everything else



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Score: 3.0 / 10*


catwoman review          catwoman review


In Catwoman, the new action-adventure multi-platform movie tie-in from EA, players control Halle Berry as she runs around and scales walls in tight leather pants and a bra. That about does it folks. Check back next month for my review of Catwoman 2, in which players guide Halle Berry clad in a catholic schoolgirl outfit through an online correspondence course in copy machine repair.

I don't like to write brutal reviews, but I've read unconfirmed reports that developer Argonaut had about 8 months to get Catwoman through development to retail, and if that's the case, it shows. If that's not the case, several key people were drinking on the clock.

It seemed to me that those guys had time to polish the graphics and the music to a slick finish, but were forced to completely disregard the controls and camera. The result is a good-looking game with a headache of incessant instructions during the




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first several levels. But, despite this extensive training, you're bound at many points to fall from precipitous heights and replay large sections of some levels because you couldn't see where you were going or remember which abstract combination of triggers, buttons and analog sticks to use in otherwise simple situations.

For me, the most fitting moment of Catwoman was when I forgot to pause the game during


a run to the fridge. I returned to find Halle Berry gyrating, licking her fingers and generally looking like something from a late night "gentleman's club" ad. "Hey boys, want to come study for that big, hard calculus exam in Long Island City? Put down that heavy control pad for a minute and read our slinky, see through instruction manual. Hot, soft-porn is waiting for you." Must be 18 and older. Please remember that to pole dance, you must jump onto a pole by pulling R. When hanging, pull L to swing and R to jump off after releasing L to stop swinging. When hanging, move left analog down to drop off, left analog up to jump on, or left sideways to turn around. To jump onto a pole directly above, stop swinging, climb on top, jump (pull R), then press right analog up to use bullwhip to grab hold of above pole. When hanging from the whip, use left analog up to climb. Three drink minimum.

Although the hand-to-hand fighting controls are a little more intuitive allowing you to perform a variety of flashy looking kicks and combos by pulling the Left trigger and directing Catwoman with an analog stick the game's fighting system is, overall, even more of a Royal pain.

Basically, regular enemies can't be killed or knocked out. That's right; deal your opponent a succession of humiliating kicks to the face and crotch, but he'll keep coming at you until you manage to knock him into destructible scenery or an inescapable "trap" such as a garbage dumpster, crate, window or closet.


catwoman review           catwoman review

The game does give players a great deal of leeway with these traps if you manage to knock an enemy within the general area, it's a bit of a gimme and, opponents can be temporarily stunned, so fights with multiple enemies are still workable. But overall, it's just a really awkward system. If the game allowed you to wear someone down after a brutal minute and a half spent trying to corner them, then you might be encouraged to get better at knocking people into crates and out of windows. But that's not even an option.

The clunkiness of both the fighting system and the simplest, most often used controls also limits the potential of the otherwise interesting combos and special moves that can be purchased by completing objectives and collecting the "bling fragments" (their choice of words, not mine) scattered throughout each level. These include a slow-motion "domination" mode, the ability to use your bullwhip to disarm opponents, upgrades that allow you to taunt or intimidate foes, and improved cat-senses that allow you to see enemies through walls or pick out the weakest foe in a group. Not to ruin the mood, hot-pants, but you still have to kick everyone into dumpsters, so what's the real difference?

OK, in some cases, you can actually get a few of these guys scared enough to run away, but c'mon, how would that conversation play out at the bar later? "Guys, I have to tell you, that extraordinarily hot woman in the tight outfit was coming at me, and she just kept coming at me with her whip and her karate. And she just wouldn't stop, you know, and she wasn't even wearing a shirt over that leather bra or anything. And, I know we all apparently have the regenerative powers of Wolverine, but I was just so afraid of that smelly dumpster. I had to flee. You guys understand, right? Bartender a Shirley Temple over here already. Guys? Guys! No! Not the dumpster! You are SOOO not throwing me into that dumpster. The worst thing in the world varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal. But NOT the dumpster!"

So, that's pretty much Catwoman. And I'll admit; if I had a camera trained on Halle Berry in leather pants, I'd probably keep the focus on her butt, too. In fact, if Pitof had just followed his better instincts and directed the movie this game is based on that way, I'd probably own a copy. But however pleasant that perspective may be, the unnecessarily complicated controls, the crappy fighting system and the inability to change perspective before jumping from place to place grinds to a halt whatever potential this game had for a bounce off of an atomic box-office bomb.

- D. D. Nunavut
(November 15, 2004)

* For anyone who's ever seen a girl in anything more revealing than a burqua, 0.29 / 10


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