Batman has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with the combination of the excellent Christopher Nolan movies and brilliant pair of video games; Arkham Asylum and its sequel, Arkham City.
This new iPhone and iPad game is based on the most recent Batman game, Arkham City, and is essentially a stripped down version of that game, with the emphasis very much on combat.
You take control of the caped crusader as a horde of inmates break out of Arkham Asylum and threaten to flood the streets of Gotham City with crime and chaos. The game isn’t a scrolling brawler but rather more like Infinity Blade, it is a one on one fighter with Batman going toe to toe with Gothams various hoods.
The combat is actually very similar to Infinity Blade, as it has a system of parries, dodges and attack combinations performed by swiping the screen in different directions. Tapping the screen will make Batman dodge, while a correctly timed swipe downwards will parry an opponents attack, opening them up for a pummeling. Enemies can use rage attacks that can’t be countered and can only be dodged, and if you avoid these they are again opened up for attack.
There are also times when circles appear on an enemy, and touching these quickly will see Batman perform a special move such as an arm break or a throw, causing a large amount of damage. Batman also has access to a large variety of gadgets, purchased with earned credits that give you an advantage if used well.
The more you fight, the more experience you earn, and you get awarded credits each time you level up, and these can either be spent on the aforementioned gadgets or on stat increases for Batman. Armour, attack power and attack speed can all be increased. Credits can also be obtained via an in-app purchase.
The game takes place over a map of the city, with you selecting an area based on number of enemies and difficulty. You must choose wisely as you must take out all the goons with one energy bar, although you can occasionally top this up with a recharging health pack.
The basic gameplay is good, and offers up a satisfying Batman themed alternative to the Infinity Blade games. It isnt as strong as those titles, but is far better than Blood and Glory. I wish the combat was a bit more flexible, but it is still really good, especially when you get your timings spot on.
The bosses are easily the best part of the game as they frequently add variety and pace to the action. For example, when facing Two-Face, there are sections where you must throw your baterang, at which point the view switches to first person, with the game requiring you to tilt your phone to aim the baterang in real-time. It is pretty cool. There is also a boss, Deathstroke who is exclusive to this version of the game. There are quite a few areas to find, and plenty of crooks to fight, but I suspect you may find everything the game has to offer in a few hours or so. The going gets slow later on as you strive to level up in order to improve your character, and this makes the game seem longer than it is. Those who choose to buy credits via IAP may find they have bought themselves out of a few hours of gameplay.
The game utilises the Unreal Engine, and looks fantastic, with big chunky characters that are very close to what the console version looks like. Smoothly animated and with some decent special effects, the game is a real looker and is another reminder of just how far mobile gaming has come in terms of graphics in the last couple of years.
Moody music and voice acting throughout contribute a decent soundtrack to the game, and there is a truly impressive set of unlockables to find. From Game Center achievements and wallpapers for your phone to a frankly brilliant comic viewer and biographies for the characters in the game, there is a lot to love here. There are also great alternative costumes, with different stats such as Animated Series Batman to purchase via IAP, although there doesn’t appear to be a way to unlock them without paying.
Overall, this is the best superhero game on the App Store yet, with a satisfying combat system, fantastic graphics and a whole load of fan service. Batfans should consider this an essential purchase, but a slightly short lifespan, over use of IAP and close release proximity to Infinity Blade II make me hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone else.