Gameloft’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Mobile Game Is Like A Pocket-Sized ‘Arkham City’
Not to get all "back in my day" on everyone, but back in my day, if you wanted to play a video game based on an action movie, you had to wait until your local video store got it in stock weeks after it was covered in Nintendo Power, and even then there was a 90 percent chance that it would be unplayably terrible -- lookin' at you here, RoboCop for the NES. You kids today, on the other hand, can walk right out of the theater and buy a video game that's a surprising amount of fun right on your telephone.
Case in point, the new Dark Knight Rises mobile game for iOS and Android, which plays like a pocket-sized version of Arkham City. The Dark Knight Rises: The Mobile Game was developed by Gameloft (who provided us with a free review copy), the company that also produced the recent Amazing Spider-Man mobile game, it seems to take its cues from its major console counterparts. The two games are actually pretty similar in how they play, the major differences being that in Spider-Man, you web-sling around an ersatz Manhattan during the daytime, while TDKRTMG gives you grappling hooks and adopts Arkham City's cape-gliding mechanic to get you around a Gotham City that, as you might expect, is experiencing a perpetually rainy night.
It's not just the capes that echo Rocksteady's Arkham games, though. The actual gameplay is highly influenced, right down to the slow-motion knockouts and the presence of gargoyle perches in every level that can be used to launch instant takedowns.
The combat doesn't have the depth of its larger counterparts -- there's a counter button that pops up, but it's nowhere near as necessary as it is in the Arkham games -- but the stripped down version works really well for the phone.
Story-wise, the game follows the events of the movie in a way that can only be described as extremely loose. If you haven't seen the movie yet and you want to avoid any plot points, I'd advise you to stay away, but there's enough in there that's different in enjoyably bizarre ways that it's fun to play through after seeing it. Everything in the first half of the film, for instance, takes place in one night over the span of about three missions, though there's plenty of free-roaming you can do around the city both on foot (or at least, on cape and grappling hook) and driving around on the Batpod. The latter is a little awkward, but I'm honestly not sure if that's a flaw in the game or if I just wasn't that great at playing that bit.
One of the nice touches is that the segments of the movie that can't be translated to a playable action set piece -- specifically a big time-jump in the middle of the film -- are instead shown as cutscenes made of comic book style "panels."
I'm sure it's a function of the limits of technology, but it does a nice job of making up for the fact that the voice actor doing Bane doesn't even attempt to capture Tom Hardy's grandiose accent from the film. Plus, there's a pretty rad drawing of Christian Bale doing push-ups, which at this point is basically that Batman's signature move.
I'm pretty new to the whole games-on-my-phone thing so this might be old news, but both TDKRTMG and Amazing Spider-Man caused my iPhone to run pretty hot to the touch, which is noticeable since you're holding it for the entire time. I also noticed that my usual way of holding the phone covered up the speakers, which is a bit inconvenient, and that they eat through battery life pretty quickly.
But for a Batman game that fits in your pocket, it's a hell of a lot better than the Tiger Electronics versions I was saddled with as a kid, and definitely feels worth it for $6.99.