Rise up and fight.
Gameloft are really getting on top of these movie licences at the moment. After the success of Spider-man on iOS, they’ve provided gamers with a title based on The Dark Knight Rises, the summer blockbuster from Christopher Nolan.
After a short tutorial, which introduces you to movement and sneak attacks on goons while also setting the story up, the game opens up and drops you into a free roaming Gotham, where rooftops are there to be grappled and plenty of bad guys run around waiting to be pounced upon.
The story itself is rather odd. It seems as if Warner Bros gave Gameloft a brief outline of the plot without too much explanation and the game often veers away from events in the film or presents them rather differently as a result. Needless to say, if you play the game before watching the film there are big spoilers present, so it makes sense to go and watch the movie first.
Without going in to too much detail about the story, it does lend itself well to small, tight set pieces which create a fairly smooth learning curve for players. There are a few difficulty spikes here and there and I occasionally found myself looking for a way out of a situation, but for most of the time everything is pretty well sign posted.
Outside of the main story, I had great fun just jumping off buildings and using the cape to glide around above the streets of Gotham. After playing a few story missions with the Bat-pod (the bike from the movie) a pod-caller feature appears on your map and allows you to ride whenever you want. Likewise, The Bat (the flying vehicle) is opened up fairly late in the game, but then gives you the option of flying around in the open world.
Side missions litter the streets to tear you away from the story. These are mostly just clearing the streets of crime, but there are some tech items to find and cars to recover as well, which should keep players busy between story missions.
In App Payments are an ever-present feature these days in Gameloft titles and The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. While beating up bad guys and finding tech items can earn you enough coins or XP to upgrade weapons and buy items to improve your suit or vehicles, it takes a long time to get anything near enough to fully upgrade. Using real money to get an XP boost will go some way to helping pay for items in the long run, but the option is always there to pay outright for coins to buy those wonderful toys. How you see this will really depend on how patient you are and how much you enjoy grinding to get enough coins, but considering that the story mission can be finished without any major upgrades, I don’t think the system seems too unfair.
With all of Gotham to render, The Dark Knight Rises really needs a fairly recent slice of hardware to get the best from the graphics engine. The difference between playing on an iPhone 4S and an iPod 4th Gen is huge. It doesn’t just affect draw distance and weather effects, but the handling on the Bat-Pod seems to be better on the newer device due to the frame rate. The game even works on an iPhone 3G, I’ve tried it and it’s still playable, but it takes a huge hit in the process.
Voice acting doesn’t make use of the original actors, but does a fairly good impersonation of them. Only Bane loses his accent completely (which some may say is a good thing, I personally kept thinking of Goldmember every time he opened his mouth during the film). There’s plenty of dialogue to help the plot along too and it also allows for some interesting side stories with Blake.
But not everything is good in Gotham. There are plenty of glitches that see enemies standing on thin air, save files that lose the last mission and In App Payments seem to disappear when the App is re-installed (which I’ve had happen at least once). Plus there is no sign of any attempt to use cloud saving. Playing on 3 different devices from scratch is a painful experience.
While none of the bugs I’ve found in the game are show stoppers, they do slightly mar the experience that Gameloft have attempted to provide and the lower the spec of the device you use, the more the cracks start to show. Playing on an iPad 3 or iPhone 4S (on which the majority of my time has been spent with this game) is the best experience, but even with an iPod Touch 4th Gen the game is still worth checking out if you’re a fan of the Dark Knight and fancy a trip around Gotham’s rooftops.
Overall, The Dark Knight Rises overcomes a few minor issues and provides fans with something worthy of the Batman name in a suitably shadowy Gotham playground.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 7
- Longevity: 7
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