Review: 'Catwoman' game less than purr-fect
By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Marc Saltzman, a freelance technology journalist whose reviews also appear on the Gannett News Service.
The "Catwoman" video game doesn't fare much better than its big-screen inspiration, which film critics have dismissed as lots of flash and little substance.
Electronic Arts' (EA) multiplatform action game is a real looker, but this interactive version of the "Catwoman" movie has a weak story, short game play and finicky camera angles that make it difficult to enjoy.
The game opens as Patience Phillips, who is played by Halle Berry in the movie, is murdered after discovering a disturbing secret held by her employers, the Hedare Corporation. She's brought back to life by a magical Egyptian cat and becomes the revenge-seeking Catwoman. While new enemies and missions are introduced over time, the game's story never really builds into anything, so it gives you -- the player -- little incentive to finish the adventure.
After transforming into Catwoman, the sexy heroine (wait until you get a load of her outfit, or lack thereof) soon discovers that she has incredible agility and other catlike powers, including the ability to run up walls, leap from ledge to ledge and swing across poles. She also enjoys a host of fighting skills, such as pouncing on prey to kick them into next week and cracking her whip. Defensive moves include avoiding bullets, thanks to her feline acrobatics.
The Catwoman character, who closely resembles Berry in the movie, also has "cat sense," a kind of heightened intuition about her environment that helps her track down enemies.
You control Catwoman from a third-person perspective throughout each of the seven main levels -- or scenes, as they are called -- including alleyways, a nightclub, jewelry store, mansion, factories and eventually, the Hedare headquarters.
Unlike other third-person games where the camera view is positioned over the lead character's shoulders (think "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City"), the game's developers chose a more cinematic approach, where the "camera" continuously moves around the environment to show various angles. Although this helps you appreciate the game's detailed settings and characters, it doesn't give you much control, which is frustrating because you don't always have the best view of the game action. This is especially troublesome when enemies are shooting at you.
Along these same lines, the confusing angles may cause you to become disoriented, forcing you to run around the current game environment to get your bearings.
Maneuvering Catwoman, however, is quite intuitive. The developer implemented a unique and clever controller layout that puts an emphasis on the two analog sticks and trigger buttons instead of the four main buttons.
After each scene is completed, you are rated on how many objectives you met. You also can exchange "bling" hidden throughout the game for additional powers and other extras.
This single-player adventure may be worth a weekend rental for fans of the film -- and it can be easily completed in that time -- but others should steer clear of this hairball of a game.