Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Game Info
Xbox, GC, PS2
Official Website
ESRB Rating
The Good

• Nice cutscenes
• Good voice acting

The Bad

• Poor implementation of combat system and equipment
• Control/camera issues
• Repetitive music


Batman: Dark Tomorrow is an unfortunate disaster release upon the public with little to no conscience from either the developer and producer. I just wanted to get that out of the way for those even remotely interested. If you're still interested in this title, be my guest and read on.

The story behind Batman: Dark Tomorrow is nothing that different from the standard "epic" Batman tale. Ra's Al Ghul is behind a plot which ends up pitting Batman against just about every famous villain he's ever tangled with (meaning lots of boss fights with Batman's standard foes preceded by tons of faceless minions in similar costumes). The story, written by Scott Pederson and Kenji Terada, is probably the only reason anyone would continue on in this game, as it's light years in quality ahead of the basic game engine. Unlike Batman: Vengeance, Dark Tomorrow is based on the look of the comic series, rather than the more stylistic cartoon. For fans of the comic, this was something promising. Unfortunately, the gameplay is rather, well....

Batman comes with an assortment of equipment made famous through the comics and movies. He has Batarangs, smoke bombs, handcuffs, a Bat Cable and a medical kit (which is extremely necessary as you have no ability to block and little ability to dodge). While Batman can be moved around in an analog fashion relative to the camera, the Resident Evil-like fixed camera angles make controlling Batman a chore, especially when switching from one angle to another, which happens too often in certain areas and not often enough when in small corridors. Don't believe me? Wait until you get into a fight with a handful of badguys at the end of the corridor, leaving you to hammer the attack buttons until you fight your wait to a better vantage point. On top of that, throw in a combat system that's mundane and frustrating. You're given one button to throw a punch and one to kick. But, if you want to pull a series of combos, you need to hold down the Left Trigger while hitting your attacks. While this may not sound too bad, you'll soon realize that you only knock down enemies and must handcuff them, which requires a cutscene all its own everytime you do this. This process may be okay when facing one or two enemies, but when facing multiple enemies, it's leads to excessive futility as by the time you've knocked down enough enemies to give you a few seconds to handcuff one or two, the first people you decked are back on their feet.

Batman supposedly has the ability to pick things up and open doors, but it never seems to be used more than a handful of times and often for nothing of any worth. And, all those gadgets you have are basically useless unless the game actually requires you to use it. The Bat Cable is only useful in Spiderman-like swinging sequences that have little to no direction or reason other than getting to the next location. And, even then, it tends to be an exercise in frustration as even swinging from one rooftop to another is complicated by the limited camera angles. Using the Batarang to knock down enemies might be helpful if they didn't manage to get back before you can reach them to handcuff them.

And then, there's just the basic objectives implementation, which is lackluster and gives next to no idea as to where the player should go next. Some times, you may just find yourself running and jumping around, looking for the next path onward. Since the only means to look around is through the use of a first person view with the night vision goggles, you're going to be wasting some time just trying to leave an area. Some kind of heads-up or icon on the map HUD would have been nice. Throw in noticeable load times between even the smallest areas and the gameplay feels rather broken up and lacks the flow to be even remotely enjoyable.

The best part of the game, hands-down, is the CG rendered cutscenes, which may not be the best in comparison to Final Fantasy or Capcom's standard, but they are decent and a far cry better than the in-game graphics. Once you get past the cutscenes, you'll find a game world that's dark and bland, with some fairly uninteresting character models and environments that lack any personality. The developers used next to no effects to make the game world even remotely worth the time to visit. With at least some better lighting (like in Splinter Cell), the visual package might have been at least a little better. Throw in some rough edges all over the place and a variety of dull textures and you have a mediocre looking game that can only be saved by the story sequences.

The audio portion of the game is, for the most part, good. The voice acting for the main characters is pretty dead on and feels like how I would image the Batman world to sound (even if it is influenced by the cartoon). The musical score is "good" in that the music for the story sequences feels appropriate, but once you get into the gameplay portion, it becomes very monotonous and repetitive, so much so that it feels like the same 30 seconds are in an infinite loop. Throw in some exceptionally lame and poorly realized sound effects and you may be looking to turn down the sound when not watching the story unfold.

Where Batman needs the most attention is just in the basic fundamentals. It's not like this game suffers from a ton of glitches, but merely from a large case of poor implementation. I almost wish this game was glitchy, so I could blame a rushed development or lack of beta testing. Instead a lot of the game's lackluster mechanics are possibly intentional. With at least a better camera/control implementation, more effective use of the gadgets and some clear objectives, this game might have been palatable enough to play through for the story sequences. Outside of that, though, there's nothing here that merits any kind of money spent towards renting or, Heaven forbid, a full-priced purchase.

- - Vane

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