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The Dark Knight Rises Review

By , on July 20, 2012


The Dark Knight Rises ™
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5

PROS

  • 'Puzzle box' room design challenges you to think your way through combat instead of simply spamming the punch button.
  • Varied open-world and story missions to provide novel distractions while attempting to unlock the next upgrade.
  • Gorgeous 3D graphics; only occasionally drops a beat, but rewards players with beautiful vistas and gritty environments.

CONS

  • Poorly directed voice-acting; voice-alikes are neat, but delivery is not modeled by or comparable to the film.
  • Whacky camera controls; limited angles of view depending on your position, with 'lock-ons' also making life difficult when backed in to a corner.
  • IAP system over-reaches its mark; instead of adding richness it's required to return to 'normality'.

VERDICT

The Dark Knight Rises follows in the wake of a film that is already being regarded the best in the series, meaning it was always a tough act to follow; it's a shame more time wasn't spent on polishing out the game's many quirks, but it remains a solid action title thanks to its focus on story-missions and finely crafted encounters.


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If you haven't seen the latest in Nolan's series of Batman films, then be assured that we'll steer away from any spoilers here in the review. While Gameloft's tie-in game only tangentially follows the film narrative, it attempts to hit the main beats and as such it's a bit of a minefield for those yet to visit the cinema.

The second concern we'll address is more or less the elephant in the room - the recent release of The Amazing Spider-Man gave us more than enough reason to be worried about The Dark Knight Rises, especially as it features very similar gameplay. However it's clear that Spider-Man was borrowing heavily from both this title and Total Mayhem, and suffered for it.

The Dark Knight Rises is - to mangle a quote - the Batman game the iOS platform deserves, but not the one it needs. Although it suffers from the usual problem of aiming so very high and falling short of this lofty goal, the end result is still something worth playing, even if it manages to burn you now and then.

Those familiar with the Arkham series of Batman titles will be perfectly at home with Dark Knight - so much so that it's all you can do to resist trying to hook-shot and glide across the city. The semi-open world city design means you can explore to your heart's content and eventually take on side-missions to rescue the citizens of Gotham from Bane's grasp, but the game gravitates around its story missions, taking you to large and detailed locations that are just as beautiful as the city itself.

Let me stress that last point, because the game looks utterly gorgeous on the latest iDevices. Occasionally the game struggles to smoothly display all of the action, but areas with heavy amounts of action are generally designed with this in mind, so it's not as problematic as it sounds. It's definitely worth taking some time out to stop and take in all of the detail, from the raindrops as they pour down Batman's cowl to the buildings reflecting in the puddles on the street.

Combat also takes on an Arkham-lite style, with players laying the beat-down on several thugs at a time while also being able to counter and deploy various gadgets to even the odds. For the most-part this works well, but it's also where the first cracks start to show. Controlling the camera in combat is all but a lost-cause, which can make fights in tight corridors or near walls an absolute nightmare. Thankfully most of the fights can be approached strategically, either making use of stealth or hit-and-run tactics to even the odds and minimize risk to Batman's health.

The gadgets deployed to get away with these tactics are not infinite - they are in fact a limited resource occasionally doled out by missions when they're specifically required, but are otherwise purchased by using up in game 'gold' (something that is unsurprisingly available for IAP as well). They're not needed to succeed, but the game does feel far more mundane and repetitive when you're limited to using the grappling hook and your fists.

If I'm being harsh it's only because I find myself inexorably attracted to The Dark Knight Rises, coming back to its dark and brutal cityscape in order to mete out harsh justice. The flaws make it a hard game to fall in love with, but underneath the tarnish is a game worth pursuing - especially if you enjoyed the films.

Until these issues are resolved, The Dark Knight Rises will remain a bitter pill to swallow, but one you'll only occasionally regret.

Screenshots

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