Batman adds the Infinity Blade to his belt full of gadgets
Batman Arkham City Lockdown borrows a few basic ideas from the Infinity Blade series, but is in no way a simple cookie cutter release. Rather than fighting an endless series of titans and waiting for a brief opening to attack, you’re freakin’ Batman. He’s a master of all forms of combat – you didn’t think he’d be the smaller dog in the fight, did you?
Lockdown has players clobbering their way through mission after mission of thugs and crooks as they work their way towards boss fights, and throughout most of the game, you’ll be the one laying the smack down. Finger swipes will create combos, unleashing flurries of fists and feet on Gotham’s seedy underbelly. Sometimes enemies will block, but for the most part they just try to return the damage (and largely fail miserably).
Should you need to, you can always counter an attack by swiping upwards to throw your cape in their face, or simply tapping the screen to dodge. Ultimately though, this is like Infinity Blade in reverse – you’re the big, scary, relentless monster here. There are some bigger attacks enemies will launch into from time to time, but these too can be dodged so long as you get the timing down. Indeed, fighting your way through Gotham is largely a cakewalk – just as it should be for the Caped Crusader.
Boss fights are something of a different story, and each tries to offer up a unique new gameplay element that’s not found anywhere else in the game. When fighting Two-Face, for instance, you’ll need to guide a batarang into him by tilting your device. The Solomon Grundy battle has you swiping in different directions to escape his meaty fists during a chase scene, and you’ll need to wipe the Joker’s poisonous flower squirts from the screen by using your fingers like a squeegee.
Other than these twists though, the boss fights are largely the same as the regular fights, but a bit tougher.
To help break things up, Arkham City Lockdown offers a simple upgrades system that’s reminiscent of what’s available in the bigger home console Arkham City release. You’ll be able to earn (or, if you’d rather, buy) points that can be spent on stat upgrades and a variety of gadgets that can come into battle with you. The gadgets are a great fit, and deliver on every childhood Batman fantasy you’ve ever had. After all, what 10 year old boy doesn’t dream of dropping a smoke bomb on somebody and then unleashing a swarm of bats or electrified punches?
Speaking of delivering on childhood Batman fantasies, Lockout looks every bit as Batman as you could ever hope. It carries the tone of the console series with it, and as anyone who’s experienced those larger games will tell you, they’ve pretty much defined what it means to be a man in a Bat costume.
It also doesn’t hurt that Batman Arkham City Lockdown is one of the best looking games we’ve seen on the App Store – at least when it wants to be. The character models for Batman and his arch-villains are stunning, looking like they were ripped right from the PS3 or Xbox 360. Some of the backgrounds and generic enemies don’t have that same level of polish, but all in all, we were shocked by what Warner Bros was able to pull off.
As a nice twist, there are some extra Batman costumes available as in-app purchases – and they each come with varying base stats, giving you a solid reason to try out each. In addition to the default Arkham City costume, you can purchase costumes from The Dark Knight Returns, The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond. Personally I stuck with Dark Knight Returns – I’m a sucker for an older Batman.
But while the game is sure to tickle Batman fanatics (such as myself) absolutely pink, it isn’t without its flaws. Earlier in this review, I was alluding to the ease with which one can fight nameless goons. That ease is Lockdown‘s Achilles heel. For all the fun the game has to offer, you’d have to be playing without thumbs to die outside of a boss fight. And even then, Deathstroke was the only boss to give me any real trouble – and I had him defeated in just three attempts.
With only four bosses in total, you should have no problem wrapping up Batman Arkham City Lockdown in little more than an hour. The game offers a ton of replayability – like Infinity Blade, you can start over with all of your skills, levels, and gadgets intact to do the whole thing again against harder enemies – but if replays aren’t really your thing, Lockdown can be a pretty quick one and done experience.
And while I suppose it’s not imperative to Lockdown, the game is missing the one thing that really makes the related console series so great – a story. Great storytelling is at the very heart of Batman, but Lockdown has absolutely none of it.
Yes it’s a little too easy, too short, and completely devoid of a story – but Batman Arkham City Lockdown is also a fast-paced, finger-swiping good time that looks stunning, keeps you hooked, and lets you be Batman. What more could you ask for in a video game?