Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

Greg Orlando

A great evil has come to Gotham bringing waves of faceless thugs, bombs that can be dismantled by walking over them, boss characters who can be brought down by punching them right in their Achilles’ heels. And so the rallying cry goes up, and is duly answered. “Gotham City is in trouble. Call for Batman.”

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu looks like an episode of Batman: The Animated Series and plays like the classic brawler Streets of Rage. The combination of solid graphics, cooperative play, and an established format works well here, and Sin Tzu is nothing if not a fun third-person beat-em-up. Ubi Soft allows players to build a better Batman, Robin, Nightwing, or Batgirl as play progresses: Successfully timed combo hits earn points that can be used to unlock other attacks. It’s not particularly true to the characters, certainly, but it serves an excellent incentive, pushing players toward an inevitable brawl with the Sun Tzu ripoff Sin Tzu.

Severe time limits are imposed on players and this dents the game’s charm. One is often faced with a timer that’s dwindled down to 15 seconds with four or so enemies to beat and a hostage to rescue or bomb to defuse. It would be acceptable if the player’s hero could simply run to his target, perform his rescue or dismantling, and then deal with his foes, but Sin Tzu establishes invisible barriers that can’t be crossed until certain conditions are met. Coupled with swarming foes, time becomes the game’s killing joke—and that’s no laughing matter.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Xbox Nation.