Batman Arkham City Lockdown is a swipe-heavy action game for iOS
What better way to unleash your inner superhero than by dropping some of your hard earned money on a game that needs your constant screen swiping to ensure The Dark Knight's survival? WB Games and NetherRealm Studios' Batman Arkham City Lockdown lets you do exactly that, and then some.
Lockdown made its way to the iTunes app store as far back as December 2011, but it's only appropriate that you play it now for obvious reasons, and preferably while shouting profanities at your local cinema during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Lockdown is the kind of game that is a healthy combination of ‘slightly addictive’ and ‘occasionally frustrating’, but thankfully, not only is it one of the best games you can use to show off the sharpness of your iPad's retina display, it's also a fair bit of fun if your index finger can handle it.
It scores top marks in a few departments. For starters, the presentation is fantastic. Upon launching the app, you’re greeted with the familiar opening screens and orchestral score that graced the console versions of Arkham City, while the crisp menus are even more familiar, letting you choose between starting a new game, customising Batman's appearance, upgrading your combat skills and gadgets, and an ‘extras’ section. Clever incorporation of in-app purchases lets you purchase alternate costumes for the masked vigilante from famous series such as ‘Year One’, ‘Batman Beyond', the animated series and more for a dollar each. Alternatively, you can unlock them by playing the game, which also nets you ‘Waynetech' points that can be used to upgrade combat skills and gadgets. The ‘extras' section is a treat as well, featuring mini-biographies of the main characters in the game, an assortment of wallpapers for your device, game centre integration (where you can check out your achievements) plus three issues of the Arkham Unhinged comic series featuring panel zoom. That's a fair bit of extra content. Surpassing the presentation are the in-game visuals. The game is powered by the Unreal Engine and runs at an incredible resolution of 2048x1536, and as a result, the graphics look supremely sharp without any noticeable performance issues.
It's no slouch in the gameplay department, either, featuring simple swipe controls for attacks and deflecting enemy attacks (done with Batman's cape), while tapping executes either a dodge move or counter-attacks (when prompted). Gadgets can be used while in combat as well, but they come with a reasonable cooldown time, so use them wisely. The game is fairly linear, so memorising enemy attack patterns is often the best strategy. This works for boss fights as well, but those are more elaborate affairs — expect to encounter the usual suspects and some unusual ones (remember, this game has been made by the folks behind Mortal Kombat). There are downsides, of course — controls that behave badly, repetitive locations, generic enemies and a control system that asks the player to be abusive to the screen of the iOS device the game is being played on.
Coming in at a whopping 962MB, it's definitely not the smallest game for the iPhone or iPad, but Batman Arkham City Lockdown does feature some incredible presentation and visual fidelity for a portable title, surpassing full-priced Playstation Vita and Nintendo DS titles. The control scheme is extremely swipe-heavy, often leaving your index finger in pretty bad shape after a play session, while its simplicity makes the game very accessible (provided you play the tutorial and have a reasonable amount of patience). Yes, controls can be frustratingly unresponsive on occasion (often when it counts), the game recycles environments a lot, while being played on-rails — think Infinity Blade, only with everyone's favourite costumed superpower-lacking superhero. In-app purchases allow costumes to be purchased for the low price of a dollar each — fortunately these are more than just cosmetic as they offer attribute bumps. The game itself was on sale a week ago (in sync with the release of The Dark Knight Rises), but even at full price ($5.99), Lockdown is a decent time-sink for Batman fans as well as fans of finger smears on their tablet screens.