Batman Arkham City Lockdown

Peanut butter is great, and so is chocolate.  It’s no surprise that when mixed together they’re just as yummy.  The same is true for Batman and Infinity Blade.  Mix these two great things together and you get Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, an excellent action game for iPhone.

The similarities to the Infinity Blade series are numerous and indisputable.  It runs on the Unreal engine, putting Batman in a gorgeous 3D environment, just as Infinity Blade uses similar tech to depict a medieval knight in a medieval castle.  Arkham City Lockdown has players swipe the touchscreen to make Batman attack, and whatever direction they swipe in, Batman will throw a punch in the same direction – exactly how Infinity Blade handles sword fighting.  Batman also dodges, levels up and executes special attacks in ways that are indeed much like that other game, but despite being derivative, it draws from a very good choice of inspiration.

Infinity Blade’s controls and mechanics are perfectly-suited to the iPhone, and the whole premise works just as well for Batman. Lockdown uses the character designs, voice actors and general tone of the console game Arkham City.  The distinctive look and basics of combat are replicated here as Batman battles his way through henchman after henchman until he catches up to one of the supervillains from his rogues gallery.

Bad guys include Two-face, Solomon Grundy, Deathstroke, and the Joker, with Harley Quinn recently added in as part of a downloadable upgrade.  Each of them has their own set of goons, and the levels require Batman to punch his way through a dozen henchmen before being able to take down the boss villain.

Batman has familiar moves for people who’ve played Arkham Asylum or Arkham City. In Lockdown, players don’t directly move Batman, the game moves him with a cutscene into position to fight each new opponent.  Once the Dark Knight is face-to-face with a bad guy, he strikes, stuns, and counters his opponents just like in the console game.  The stun move is done by swiping down on the screen just as the enemy attacks.  Enemies sometimes become “Enraged” which leaves then immune to stuns, and forces Batman use his dodge move, but tapping anywhere on the screen.  There are also counter-attacks; for these there will be a target icon on the enemy’s body, and players must use quick timing to tap the target, which results in a fast takedown, high damage, or a disarm.

Boss fights shake up this basic gameplay.  While they do involve pummeling the villain, they usually have some special feature, like guiding a batarang by tilting the iPhone.  One fight requires the player to vigorously rub the screen to simulate Batman wiping blinding goo out of his eyes.  The new Harley Quinn levels make use the Batarang mechanics, plus add in a fast-paced combat sequence that puts the Player on a timer as Batman fights through a swarm of henchmen.

As with the console Arkham games, Batman has a belt full of gadgets.  He has taser gloves that increase damage or attack speed.  There are smoke bombs that stun enemies.  Plus there’s a cool device that summons a swarm of bats to weaken the bad guys.  All of these gizmos have a cooldown period between uses.  They can also be upgraded too; as Batman fights bad guys he’ll earn experience points which can be cashed in for upgrading his gadgets, or for training to improve basic stats like Health, Damage and Speed.  One of the updates recently added in the option to build up his Critical Strikes, increasing the damage they do, or how often they happen.  Using a variety of attacks and gadgets increases XP, and dissuades button mashing.

As with the console Arkham City, there are many batsuits, each one based on a different interpretation of Batman.  Aside from aesthetics, they also change his basic stats, making him faster, hardier or inclined to do more damage.  Some of these can be unlocked for free by playing through the game, but others require spending real-world money.

The major complaint I have about Lockdown is its brevity.  The whole thing can be played through in around an hour.  There is a great deal of replay, because (Much like Infinity Blade) the whole story can be played through again, with tougher enemies, and your Batman keeps all of his upgrades.  These higher levels can be challenging, so the game certainly warrants multiple playthroughs.   Another issue is that button mashing can get players through much of the game, and min/maxing the upgrades can quickly result in an over-powered Batman.

The developer has shown a nice amount of support for Lockdown since launch; there have been two updates, one added in new batsuits, but the more recent one was more substantial, adding in new playable levels and upgrades.  Yet another update has been announced, this one with Poison Ivy as a new boss.  The world map shows some blank spots, so it’s possible that even more content will become available after the Ivy update. Batman. Arkham City Lockdown is available for iPhone and iPad now.  At the time of this writing it is on sale for half off at the iStore.