It must be pretty tricky to make a decent Batman game based on a film where Batman isn’t actually in it all that much. But in the interest of making sure fans have a companion piece (and definitely not just spinning a quick buck or five), Gameloft has risen to the challenge. There’s no level where you play as Bruce Wayne and just mope around the East Wing of Wayne Manor a bit, sadly. And for some reason the pit is full of armed guards against whom to spam the punch button and slowly level up so you can make the QTE climb to freedom, which somehow manages to ram the point that you are rising even further down your throat than the film did. But that’s not even the worst of it.
Ambitious it may be but in a world where even the Rockstar’s open world crime lord can’t make the iPad sing, you have to wonder what hope Gameloft has. The Dark Knight Rises adopts a similar structure to Arkham City, allowing players to don the cowl and glide around Gotham at their leisure, this time following a version of the movie as retold by someone that wasn’t really paying attention. And there’s not even a hint of Rocksteady’s polish, either – it’s like trying to play an old PS2 Batman game on the worst emulator ever coded.
The frame rate frequently descends into slide show territory and chugs near-constantly, while glitches, pop-in and bugs (which come in both visual and gameplay flavours) are everywhere, making the whole thing feel amateurish. Even the controls don’t behave most of the time, the virtual controller is a nightmare to use at the best of times, while simple tasks like grappling up to a rooftop are a chore.
Combat, on the flip side, isn’t half bad. Sure, it’s a low-rent clone of Arkham City’s counter-centric clobbering and there’s little-to-no skill involved, but it’s still a clear highlight when everything else is so dismal. Worst of all is the decision to follow the pay-to-win/freemium model with in-app purchases – having dropped a fiver on the game in the first place, we can’t imagine many people will be fronting an extra £70 just to fill Batman’s virtual wallet with play money. It’s utterly shameless, though the saddest part is that it’s clearly a model that works.
Add in some horrible vehicle sections which somehow make it even harder to navigate Gotham and you’ve got yourself a traditionally poor movie tie-in that almost feels intentionally dreadful to meet expectations. If seeing The Dark Knight Rises has inspired you to put the cape back on, do yourself a favour and go back to either of Rocksteady’s games instead. Because this one is wearing hockey pads.