Bats is back
Just like the Dark Knight himself, Warner Bros new iOS game came from out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise. Being a big self-confessed Batman fan, I didn't hesitate on clicking that 'Purchase' button on the App Store.
My first impression of Batman: Arkham City Lockdown was that the developer, NetherRealm Studios, had been heavily influenced by Infinity Blade. Some of the familiarity may have been due to the fact that both games share a common development kit in Epic's Unreal Engine 3 and it certainly shows. If anything is bound to grab you in the first 30 seconds of the game it's that Arkham City Lockdown looks amazing.
The game plays out over a series of four cities, each with three stages and a final boss stage. Goons attack you one at a time, some unarmed and others with weapons. Many of them will have a 'rage attack' where they turn red for a short time. During these attacks, Batman will need to dodge the incoming punches or bullets and wait for the enemy to stop, dazed, before attacking. Swiping down during normal attacks from a goon will also daze the enemy, allowing the Dark Knight to attack with ease and deal out the damage.
The fourth area on the map deals out more of the standard attackers but also pits you against one of Batman's foes; Two Face, Deathstroke, Solomon Grundy and, of course, The Joker. Profiles of each of them can be found in the extras and as there are two extra profiles, it's safe to assume Warner Bros are adding new bosses in future updates. This is essential as the one fault this game seems to have is the length. It's fairly easy to make your way through all the cities in under two hours, though you do get a harder version of the game to play through on completion. Any additional levels could do with being a bit tougher.
But it's not just the look of the game that owes a passing nod to ChAIRs hit title. The combat system utilises a series of swipes and presses to attack and counter the enemies. While not as comprehensive as Infinity Blade (there are only a few attack options and even less guards) it provides a simple to use interface and is pretty easy to master in a short space of time. Fighting earns both XP and Waynetech points. The former raises stats in the usual way and the latter allows you to buy or upgrade your arsenal.
Upgrading gives you two options; Firstly, increased training and armour can improve speed, stamina and power. This option is useful for general attacks and after only a few upgrades it's easy to beat the henchmen every time. Secondly, there are gadgets which can provide added power or damage an enemy for a short space of time before needing to recharge. These are more suited to the boss battles.
Extras are worth a mention, with three new bat-suits to choose from; Animated, Dark Knight or Batman Beyond, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, they're only available through In App Purchase at 69p each, but it's a nice touch that fans won't mind forking out for, especially considering the cost of similar suits in the console game. Aside from the profiles, there are wallpapers and a nice Comic Viewer which contains the full issues of DC's Arkham City comics 1, 6 and 7.
If I take my Batman fanboy hat (with pointy ears) off for a moment and look at the game without thinking about the franchise, its main faults are quite clear; the combat system is basic, especially compared to Infinity Blade, and the length of the game is pretty short, but even without the Dark Knight's involvement, the game would be easy to recommend.
This is, however, a Batman game and the great visuals mixed with a nicely balanced upgrade system and some interesting extras all add up to pretty strong game that Batman fans should seriously think about picking up.
- Sound: 10
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 7
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