Platform: iPhone (reviewed), iPad, Android
Release Date: July 20, 2012
Price: $6.99 Available Here
Christopher Nolan has created the greatest Superhero movie trilogy ever – deny that and your officially an idiot as far as I’m concerned. So naturally expectations are unfairly high for any developer who even attempts to grab the licensing and make a game inspired by the final film. Thankfully however developer Gameloft has decided to rise up to the challenge and have brought along their always impressive high production efforts to the table, giving The Dark Knight Rises a fighting chance. While it may not be as entertaining as their last movie tie-in, The Amazing Spider-Man, TDKR is still a pretty enjoyable game at it’s core…if you just ignore a few bugs and tolerate a lot of repetitiveness.
On paper The Dark Knight Rises sounds perfect: throw Batman into an open world environment to explore Gotham, set in Christopher Nolan’s universe, include an Arkham City-inspired combat system and break up the gameplay with vehicle based missions, but the execution of such is a little less exciting. See the main problem about putting Batman in a sandbox environment is that travelling around it gets pretty boring. Sure you can glide short distances and use the grappling hook to get up buildings, but at the end of the day you end up mostly walking around from place to place. Yes it does break up combat, but it does so in a really boring fashion. Unlike Superman who can fly or Spider-Man who does acrobatic swinging, Batman is a slow stalker in the shadows so getting from point A to point B isn’t exactly mind blowing. Although side-missions are present to give the city some spirit and make you feel like a hero saving those in need. In fact, it can be argued that TDKR makes more of an effort here than what Gameloft did with The Amazing Spider-Man. However these missions still fall short by getting repetitive. Missions vary from ‘save or disarm this’ to ‘beat up these bad guys’ to ‘follow this truck, then save or disarm this’. This could be forgiven, but the story’s missions are 100% exactly the same, just with cut scenes. The only difference ever is when you need to be stealthy and do so quietly, which is hell because the AI is so stupid (or intelligent?) that it feels more like luck than skill 90% of the time.
The problems keep on coming. Like many sandbox titles, TDKR comes with a ton of bugs. What’s odd though is Gameloft have worked on countless titles of this genre in the past (Gangstar: Crime City, Gangstar: West Coast Hustle, Backstab, The Amazing Spider-Man, to name a few) and usually do a pretty good job of polishing things up and making sure this isn’t an issue. But in TDKR characters get stuck in objects, soundbites interrupt each other, the game crashes, sometimes mission objectives don’t show up on the map until you restart….long story short there’s a couple of bugs and problems here and there. None of these are game-breaking bugs, you can still enjoy the game but after a while they do get irritating. Finally, vehicle missions which I ultimately expected to be bright highlights of the game were actually some of the worst aspects. Whether if it’s The Bat or The Bat-Pod, controls are awkward, clumsy and a chore to use. Truly disappointing.
Don’t get it twisted – The Dark Knight Rises is still at it’s core, a good game. Combat for one is really enjoyable and authentic to Christian Bale’s movie performance, focusing on a brutal range of head butts and elbows that really leave an impact.While it can get repetitive after a while, it is fun to do. Advancing throughout the storyline is also enjoyable as while the missions may be repetitive, the execution in the presentation of these stages are nice enough to distract you for the most part. Furthermore, light RPG elements are present for upgrading and such which adds to a sense of progression. While nothing here is spectacular, it’s enough to keep you entertained for a bit, and if your a true Batman fan like myself, enough fan service to last you throughout the duration of the entire game.
Ah yes. This is where the game truly shines. Graphics and presentation is consistently outstanding throughout The Dark Knight Rises. Character models look like the actors they are based on, textures are detailed, explosions look beautiful and the themes style does the Nolan trilogy justice. Audio is just as impressive. While the film’s cast is not present in this game, very similar and high quality voice actors have stepped up instead. Dare I say it, this may have the best voice acting I’ve ever heard in a mobile game, ever! Music is also faithful to the film franchise and sets the tone perfectly. In fact whenever the game does fall short, the presentation, graphics and audio make up for it by captivating you within the experience. This is what pushes the player on to keep playing and is almost enough to make up for the games bugs and repetitive gameplay. Almost.
The Dark Knight Rises film from Christopher Nolan is easily one of the greatest superhero films ever made, but the mobile game leans towards the little more average side of things. The game is made on a solid foundation – great combat system, beautiful graphics, awesome audio and presentation, a wonderful city to explore, light RPG elements and an ok story as well, but bugs, disappointing vehicle missions and wost of all repetitive gameplay ultimately stop The Dark Knight from Rising. However, if your a big Batman fan like myself or want a decent sandbox game or beat em up, The Dark Knight Rises is worth checking out.