So that’s it, I’ve completed Batman Arkham City after a two-year wait…
A wait that has everyday involved me delving into countless forums for any scrap of information whether it be rumor or truth. I became obsessed, an addict and slave to the game before I had even got my grubby little hands on it. Now it’s done, sitting completed several times over on my shelf with only a mere few Riddler trophies left to collect, then just when I thought I’ve had my allotted helping from the Arkhamverse for a long time, out of nowhere in a cloud of holy smoke emerges Arkham City: Lockdown. This game took me, and most likely you by surprise, and you know why? Because this game IS Batman, albeit a slightly watered down Batman.
Being a huge fan of The Caped Crusader and his escapades myself (specifically the Joker) I see it fit that I be extremely critical of this game. I must put aside my love affair with the Dark Knight to provide you with the most fair and honest opinion of Arkham City: Lockdown. I want to scream out that I think this game is amazing, and that everybody should rush to the appstore now and hand over his or her $5.99 without hesitation. I know I did. I don’t regret doing so, but upon scratching below the surface there are aspects to Arkahm City: Lockdown that stop me from declaring so.
So after waiting for the game to download I booted it up, and I’m welcomed by the same swooshing logos as on the console version… promising so far! This really is how excited a new batman game makes me feel, that the logos alone compel me to pee myself with anticipation. You’re lucky I’m only reviewing the iPhone/iPad adaptation and not the full experience, the first console game caused me go out and get a Joker tattoo based on the concept art… See exhibit A. Of course making me the Joker officially! Batman Approves.
I’m at the title screen now, made out to be the inside of the Batcave, I’m ready to burst with pure excitement, but I keep my composure and start the game. Starting a new game I’m shown a map with four of Gotham City’s major districts, each contain four markers each, three fights and a boss fight. Each district is run by a different crime boss, from Two-Face to The Joker. Warner Brothers have even thrown Deathstroke into the mix, which is certainly a pleasant surprise considering he’s not even in the main Arkham City game. This makes sense though as Arkham City Lockdown is a spin-off and nothing more, don’t try and piece together the two titles.
Before getting to lay some steaming bat-justice on the super criminals you need to make your way through groups of henchmen. I say groups, but you don’t actual fight them as a group, each of the 3 henchmen stages has you battle anywhere between three to five goons, in order, one at a time.
The combat system that made Lockdown’s bigger brother so groundbreaking has not been translated down to the portable version. Instead you take on these hoodlums using mechanics that can best be described as a poor mans Infinity Blade (yet, ironically, priced the same). There I said it… this is no joke either, right down to the left, right, left combo swipes it seems Batman got some training from Chair Entertainment and Epic Games. There are enough difference though to make Arkham City: Lockdown stand out as it’s own game. Between fights there is no on rails navigation, no navigation at all in-fact, you just watch a cutscene of Batman running down a corridor, or jumping from a rooftop to the next fist fight, but with visuals that looks this good, you really don’t mind watching. I just wish there had been more of a story built around the game to show off the extremely detailed settings and characters more.
Batman’s a fighter though, not a talker, so most of your initial gameplay will be spent tapping the screen to dodge attacks, then swiping your finger like an escaped Arkham inmate to put the beat down on your foolish opponent. You’re awarded experience points that you can spend at Waynetech to upgrade and enhance your abilities and gadgets!
You can’t be Batman without the gadgets, and although they aren’t all here, the ones that are have been tweaked enough so they stand apart from their console iterations. Batman’s got his smoke pellets and sonar to attract a flurry of bats, but my favorite has to be the electrified gauntlets. Nothing like beating down a thug with hands of pure electricity! From time-to-time an opportunity will arise to counter your attacker instead of just dodge, this will generally disarm them but if their energy is low enough you’ll go in for a full bone crushing takedown, Dark Knight style, breaking a leg or wrist of the assailant in the process. I want to be able to rave about the regular levels and fights but they all play very much the same. However, Lockdown’s saving grace is in its boss battles.
You get a total of four boss battles. In each Batman must take on the crime boss of that region. These include Two-Face, Deathstroke, The Joker and Solomon Grundy on behalf of The Penguin, because, lets be honest, Batman vs The Penguin isn’t really much of a fight is it. Fighting the bosses is a much richer experience because it requires you to play differently from using the iPad as a controller for a remote control batarang or wiping the screen clean of Jokers flower toxin. I did experience particular trouble with the Solomon Grundy boss fight, although portrayed fantastically (as good as if not a better concept than the console version) it wasn’t registering my inputs correctly. Let me set the scene for you, you’re running for you life from Mr ‘Born on a Monday’ and you’re indicated to swipe either left, right or down to avoid Grundy’s running strikes, every other game I have played on the iPad before doesn’t care if your downward swipe is more diagonal than straight, Lockdown however has a problem with this. I wouldn’t mind if one hit didn’t deplete almost half my energy bar, but it does unfortunately, so I had my fair share of replays with the big guy.
The music is taken directly from the Arkham City soundtrack, I know this because I’m that much of a fanboy I have the original score on my iPhone, in fact I’m listening to it right now as I’m writing this. I’m sure any Batman fan worth their salt will agree a big part of what makes Batman (Modern Batman) in Movie and Game form is the music. Without the music scores we might as well call up Adam West to reprise his role, although there is something strangely endearing about watching 60’s Batman takedown his foes and celebrating with the Batusi.
Moving on to extras, the game is surprisingly full of them, good ones too! We’re talking HD wallpapers and Bio’s laid out the same way as the console version. You can also change skins at an extra cost, I couldn’t resist and was playing in The Dark Knight Returns skin from the beginning. Another great little extra is the comic viewer which unlocks some modern and classic comics for your reading pleasure, not the entire series though, just a few issues to give you a taster of what you might be missing. After completing the game it kicks into a Game+ type mode where you can play through the same levels with tougher baddies to smash, keeping you coming back for more so you can purchase all of those awesome Bat-Upgrades. You can buy upgrades yourself with real world money, but there is no need, XP is generous.
Lockdown is clearly not connected to the main Batman Arkham City storyline and is nothing more than a spin off on the iPad with borrowed mechanics from Infinity Blade. The gadgets make for a good change in pace and the boss battles mean Lockdown stands out from being an Infinity Blade clone. That, and the fact that it’s Freakin’ Batman!! A Good iOS Batman as well, TAKE THAT terrible Lego iOS Batman game. Small issues like responsiveness, game length (1 hour for my first playthrough) and slightly limited fighting system means Arkham City: Lockdown gets 4 Batarangs.. I mean Stars!
|Second opinion: Kevin Moore
It’s a well known fact that I am Batman. People keep telling me that I only think I’m Batman, but I can assure you, I’m actually him. Case in point – not only was I unaware that Batman: Arkham City Lockdown was coming to iOS until barely 3 hours before it was released, but I didn’t even have enough time this week to properly review it before Carl Stevens (aka The Joker) got there first. Why? Because I’ve been out FIGHTING CRIME, like real superheroes do. Not sitting at home fannying about with video games.Anyway, Alfred’s given me a night off, and because I’m Batman, it would be rude of me not to add my two cents about a game named after me.
Graphically this thing is lovely, the Unreal engine is really earning it’s money here. I never realised I look that good in the Batsuit. That 15 years I spent becoming the ultimate athlete seems to have paid off. Everything is slick animation and cinematic camera angles. Gotham looks suitably dingy, if a little underpopulated.
I like the little sound touches like the ambient city noise on the street levels, (something that could’ve easily been overlooked, but helps to add atmosphere in the light of the aforementioned lack of citizens), and the fact that the voice acting is surprisingly high quality. Gotta love the classic villain line uttered by Two-Face in your stand off with him, ‘Time to die!’, which actually sounds a lot less corny than it should.
The unlockable extras also gets a thumbs up. You’ve got bios for different characters from the Batman mythos (including two which are apparently coming soon, promising an update or two in the future), wallpapers you can save to your pad or phone, previews of the Arkham City comic and alternative Batsuits to kit out in, although it’s disappointing that you can only purchase these extra outfits with real cash. Good thing I’m also multi- billionaire Bruce Wayne then. Wait, I wasn’t supposed to disclose that was I?
The only thing that lets it down somewhat ironically is the combat. I can confirm that when I’m out battering villains to a pulp, the fighting is somewhat more frantic than the almost turned-based fare I found here. It all feels uncomfortably polite in the early stages, with a bit too much standing round waiting for your assailant to attack so you can counter. It also breaks the immersion that Batman takes on thugs one by one. If you’ve played Lockdown’s bigger brother on the consoles, you’ll know that it absolutely nailed the Batman style melee with baddies being taken down three or four at a time. I’m definitely a fan of some of the finishing moves though; The Dark Knight is brutal here, snapping arms and legs with abandon, something I wouldn’t expect on an iPhone game for some reason. I actually felt sorry for a couple of the yobs, but don’t let Carl ‘Joker’ Stevens know I said that, he’ll think I’m getting soft.
Overall, it’s a pretty darn good representation of what I face out there every night. After patiently waiting for a decent Batman game to show up on iOS over the last year or so where mobile gaming has come on leaps and bounds, I’m definitely satisfied with this.
Now if you’ll excuse me, a report has just come through on the Batcomputer that The Penguin is attempting to rob a boiled sweet factory in downtown Gotham. Must dash.