We’re watching an Android gaming revolution happen. A gaming experience only found on dedicated mobile gaming devices and on iOS is starting to emerge on Droid-y gadgets. The fact that I can recreate a PS2 quality game on the same device which keeps my calendar and contacts in sync is pretty rad.
There is probably no better example of this gaming rise currently than The Dark Knight Rises, released in conjunction with the film of the same name, so let’s take a look!
Fair warning, the game contains some spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film yet. I’ll be trying to keep my Nerd-Love of the movie from bleeding over into this review, but this might not be an app to rush out and play unless you’ve seen the movie first.
Seriously folks. That should be enough of a draw right there. Gameloft has done a terrific job of translating the elements of other successful Batman games to a tablet experience. We’ve got a third person perspective combat game, where you take control of the caped crusader as he protects Gotham City from Bane’s evil machinations.
I’ll get my main complaint out of the way early: I really wish the controls were customizable. I’m one of those people who like to game correctly with an “inverted” Y-Axis. I have no problems with people who like to game incorrectly, but at least give me the option to set the controls properly. Also, there is no support for game pads, so you’ll have to keep your thumbs on the screen.
This is one of the best looking Android games available today, and is easily worthy of sitting next to some of my other faves on the platform like ShadowGun. I’m extremely impressed with the design of Gotham, and with how much of the city will be drawn out. Even playing the game on older Tegra 2 hardware, you’ll still see a pretty far expanse of buildings whenever Batman perches at the top of a skyscraper. Considering the scope of the game, I’m very appreciative of it’s playability on last gen hardware, though you’ll suffer some long load times in between missions, and sometimes the game will turn off things like rain effects. Load times on Tegra 3 devices are much faster, and to my eye you seem to be treated to more detail.
Batman’s character model is very well detailed, with great cape movement; but other models (especially Selina Kyle’s design) can look a little “last gen.” It’s ok though, because you’ll be spending most of your time beating up generic thugs.
Game play reminds me a lot of the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games on consoles, just boiled down slightly for the lack of controls on tablets. Your left thumb controls movement, your right thumb adjust camera view, and performs actions. Contextual buttons pop up when needed (when thugs are around, you have fight and dodge controls, while at the edges of buildings you have jump and glide options).
After defeating bad guys you receive coins which you can spend on upgrading all of Batman’s wonderful toys. There’s also a “real money” store for those impatient gamers, where you can spend real money on “Gotham Coins” to upgrade gear faster. I don’t know if I love elements of freemium games popping up in paid apps, but it’s there for people who want it, and you should be able to beat the game without using the real money store.
The game’s story based missions are pulled directly from the film currently in theaters, so I wont overly discuss individual plot points–but the cast of characters is almost as wide as Nolan’s flick. The voice acting is surprisingly good. I was particularly impressed with the actor voicing Alfred, invoking just enough of Michael Caine’s demeanor for the character to feel familiar. Dare I say it, the actor voicing Batman has a better Batman voice than Bale himself… That might be me being a snarky voice over guy though… Prolly not…
The game is a chore to download. All this great stuff comes with a pretty steep install of 1.8GB. If you cheaped out on the 8GB Nexus 7, then expect a third of your available storage to disappear with this one app. Thankfully the app is downloaded directly from Google Play, one of the first I’ve used which has taken advantage of the increased download sizes now offered directly from Google’s app store.
It’s a funny thing, how devalued mobile programs have become. This is a game that would have retailed for at least $40 during the days of the PS2, but I’ve already seen complaints of the $7 price tag this carries. At $7 I can find few objections to giving it a spin. If you like 3rd person action games and you like Batman stories, then why so serious?
Just play the darn thing.