Developer(s) – Probe Entertainment & Tiger Electronics
Publisher(s) – Acclaim Entertainment & Tiger Electronics
Designer – Matt Nagy
To coincide with the ill-fated Batman film with the impressive cast of George Clooney, Uma Thurman and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin was released a year after the film, and like it, received a very negative commercial and critical response. Most believe that the film almost killed the entire Batman franchise, and with good reason, but the game hardly amounts to much either. It certainly doesn’t justify George Clooney’s smug expression on the front CD insert.
Graphics – 8/10
Since this was a licensed game with a pretty big budget behind it, the visuals are among some of the most technically astute for its time. Not only that, but the conceptual design was also fairly well handled too. Gotham is portrayed as being a dark and gritty place, similar to how it’s portrayed in the film Batman Returns. The biggest problem with the graphics, however, is the lighting; especially on older televisions. Everything is excessively dark, which although was intended by the developers to deliver a gritty atmosphere, was taken much too far in my opinion.
Gameplay – 2/10
Unfortunately, the graphics were the only aspect in which this given any true attention to detail, as the gameplay is unanimously abysmal, and merely a fraction of what it had the potential to be. With the ability to travel in the Batmobile, as well as to select from three different characters, Batman, Robin and Batgirl, it will have looked and sounded half-decent at first glance, but ends up feeling extremely underwhelming; especially since the game appears to be set in an open world. To me, the biggest limitations were in the developer’s imagination as opposed to the game’s budget.
Controls – 2/10
Though this game does have a remarkably similar look about it to that of the Arkham series, the control scheme is very largely unrefined and riddled with errors and complications. Before the targeting system would be introduced with Ocarina of Time, combat was made extremely hard as well as inaccessible, as not only do single hits take up great portions of player’s health, but trying to land hits are made much more of an annoyance than a challenge.
Lifespan – 2/10
Despite there being a fairly big open world for what the game’s memory would allow, and despite the fact that the story goes through three separate phases, the game can take only about 4 hours to finish, which even for the time, was unacceptable. I wasn’t the best example of how to develop a 3D game for a number of reasons, but this reason is definitely one of the most prominent.
Storyline – 4/10
Telling the same story as the film, it evolves around Batman and his sidekicks protecting Gotham from Bane, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. There are no basic story elements, as the industry was starting to incorporate in-depth story into games, but there is consolation in the fact that unlike the film, it doesn’t feature lacklustre acting and jokes that make Carrot Top look like Richard Pryor.
Originality – 3/10
As I alluded to before, this game had the potential to be much more than it turned out to be; even if the film suffered complications from the very beginning. The game’s memory could easily handle more content and side quests than what was present in the final product, making it even more obvious that this title was simply rush out to retail in a less-than-satisfactory state to coincide with the release of the film. That the film didn’t do anything to live up to the quality of Batman Forever would have complicated matters even further.
Overall, batman & Robin, like the film, is a failure of gigantic proportions. It didn’t live up to what it could have been if it had been developed with a bit of passion, and is considered a dark stain on the entire franchise.