Batman: Arkham City Lockdown Review

Developer:

NetherRealm Studios

Publisher:

Warner Bros. Entertainment

Platform:

iOS (tested on iPhone)

Release Date:

December 7, 2011

Genre:

Action-Adventure

Rating:

12+

-Matthias Fischer

In this iOS spin-off of Batman: Arkham City, Two-Face and a few fellow crownies have (yet again) escaped the Arkham facilities and it is Batman’s job to get them back to where they belong.

The game is visually impressive for the device, using Unreal Engine 3, much like the famous Infinity Blade. And it’s not only the graphics which are similar to the latter franchise; the gameplay is indeed also very similar.

On your path of righteousness you encounter a number of thugs and minions who come at you one by one and who are employed by a handful of beloved villains of the Batman franchise. The controls are easy enough, a swipe down, if timed right, blocks your opponent’s attack. Left, right and upward swipes are Batman’s punches which can be combined into combos. Finally you can dodge any attack by a simple tap on the screen at the right time. Sometimes it feels as if the game reacts a bit late to your movements and if you receive a text while you play it really drags down the performance and can be a little annoying if it happens during a boss fight.

To mix it up a little, as you progress through the stages, gather experience points and level up, you gain WayneTech points. You can use these to improve your offensive and defensive abilities, such as your armour or damage. Alternatively you can use them to buy gadgets and improve them. You can summon a health boost, electrified gauntlets, smoke bombs and a bat swarm. You manage your skills in the Batcave, where you can also access extras and change your Batsuits. You get Batsuits from different eras or comic ranges (i.e. 1970s Batman, Batman Beyond) either as reward for your progress or as DLC. Likewise you can purchase more WayneTech points if you feel in dire need.

And as an extra special bonus, you can find bios of the characters involved, some nifty wallpapers and three digital issues of Batman Arkham Unhinged.

Batman: Arkham City Lockdown is by no means a bad game; however the game design lends itself to become very repetitive very quickly. Since it’s more or less a succession of a handful of different opponents you have the same moves with the only thing differing being the model design.

Luckily the boss battles break the mould, since different and new controls are thrown in the mix for almost all of them, from steering the Batarang using the iPhone’s gyroscope to wiping the screen clean after Joker sprays green goo at the Bat. The other alternative to the normal gameplay are the bonus stages, which work like the normal stages (Beat x minions) but with a twist; you may have to beat a lot of them in a certain amount of time or without the help of any gadgets, etc. These stages can be a welcome change, but some of them are also incredibly hard compared to the rest of the game.

In the end neither the boss battles nor the bonus stages can really counter the repetitiveness in general, which increases once you beat the game for the first time after 2-4 hours.  All that is offered at this point is a replay to get more WayneTech points to improve your skills.

In summary this is a solid mobile brawler with very sophisticated visuals. The game mechanics are easy and fast to learn, if harder to master. On the downside the controls can lag at times and the game can become very repetitive very quickly. Alas, since especially the bonus stages offer a tough challenge, if they can trigger the completionist in you, they will likely motivate you to a few more playthroughs.

Pros:

  • Batman!
  • Great visuals
  • Easy gameplay
  • Challenging at times
  • Nice bonus content

Cons:

  • Very repetitive
  • Controls sometimes lag
  • Short and rudimentary story

Verdict: 75%