iPhone App Video Review: Batman Arkham City Lockdown

by Andrew Koziara

Not so long ago, Batman: Arkham City was released to hordes of rabid fans, and it received acclaim and praise across the board. Now that game is getting an iOS spinoff called Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, developed by Nether Realm Studios.

Yep, the dudes that revived Mortal Kombat and made it not terrible again earlier this year also made an Arkham City related game, which is just awesome. The game features great graphics in the same visual style as it's console siblings and a fun combat system, but unfortunately it's also very short and repetitive.

This game serves as a prequel to Arkham City. The inmates have escaped from the asylum once again, and Bats is sent in to round them up. There is almost no story whatsoever, and the Arkham City Protocol is only briefly mentioned. It may technically be a prequel, but that doesn't really do anything to enhance the game, and it feels like a huge missed opportunity.

Story bits aside, the free flowing combat of the Arkham games has been morphed into an Infinity Blade style swipe fest. Despite that, the feel of the combat is preserved fairly well. You swipe left, right, and up to attack, or swipe down just as an enemy attacks to deflect it and stun them. Swiping down mid combo leads to a kick. From time to time, an enemy will become enraged and use unblockable attacks, which you'll have to dodge by tapping the screen. You'll be prompted to tap on an enemy from time to time to perform a counter or occasionally a finishing move. These finishers almost always include an arm or leg being snapped in half, and if not for the Batman license, I'm sure Nether Realm would have delighted in rendering every bit of bone, muscle, and sinew ripping apart. Although there is no gore to speak of, Batman is definitely a bit more punishing and vicious now.

There are four areas of the game with three levels of a handful of goons followed by a boss level. As you fight through all these thugs, you'll gain experience and level up, leading to WayneTech points. These are used to purchase upgrades to your suit, or to purchase various gadgets. Things like a smoke bomb, electrified gauntlets, and some bat-nip that lets you summon a swarm of bats to distract foes. These gadgets are all pretty fun to use, and they're extremely useful for canceling out an enraged enemy, which is a lifesaver when they pull out a gun. All in all, the combat is fun but not perfect. Unfortunately, there are only two kinds of enemies. 'Random Normal Thug' and 'Random Normal Thug With Big Lead Pipe.' Luckily, the bosses are the exact opposite, and do a lot to mix things up. The thing that made Batman great has always been his rouges gallery, and here we get to encounter Two Face, Solomon Grundy, Deathstroke, and of course, The Joker. Each encounter mixes up the mechanics and requires you to think on your feet, whether it's outrunning and evading the massive Grundy or swiping some green goop off the screen courtesy of the Joker. After beating the campaign, you simply do it all over again, but with higher level enemies.

The graphics and sound are all well done, and this definitely feels like an Arkham game. There are plenty of extra's to unlock or purchase, from wallpapers to biographies and even some of the Arkham City comics being made available to read. You can purchase three extra costumes in-app, which come with their own base statistics for health, damage, and speed, but don't really affect the game much at all. These costumes are The Dark Knight Returns Batman, Batman Beyond, and best of all, Animated Series Batman. Game Center achievements are supported as well, and the iOS Universal title is six dollars. The game really does get repetitive quickly, though there are teases of new areas being added in later updates. While I love Batman and Nether Realm Studios and want them to have my money, you might want to wait for a sale on this one. But you probably won't, and that's OK too.

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