Release Date: July 20
Platforms available on: iOS, Android
Licensed video games have more than their fair share of critics, but they invariably mean a hefty payday for publishers when a blockbuster property is attached. With this in mind, it's hard to believe there wasn't a studio on hand to cash in on Christopher Nolan's definitive Batman offering The Dark Knight in 2008.
Gameloft never misses an opportunity for a movie tie-in, but The Dark Knight Rises is quite a coup for the developer, and following the example set by Rocksteady Studios' Arkham titles it offers the best possible direction they could have taken it in.
Players control Batman using a responsive virtual thumb stick, and carry out commands with action buttons that appear as and when you need them; a shrewd move to minimise screen clutter. Strike and block commands will surface during combat situations, and the grappler hook and Batarang icons crop up when such items are called for.
There's a jump button, which is pretty much omnipresent, and Batman has the ability to glide once airborne, a feature that comes in handy when traversing the Gotham skyline.
The developers have done well to replicate the mechanics of the Arkham titles, but the end result feels overly diluted. Some concessions are to be expected when downscaling for a mobile platform, but much of the depth and sophistication on offer in the Rocksteady games is absent. For instance, hammering the attack button when locked in combat with two or more assailants will see you through relatively unscathed, so there's little need for complex combos or dexterous defensive manoeuvres.
Players are encouraged to use their wits rather than their fists where possible. Batman can call upon his grappler hook to pull enemies over, use Batarangs to take out lights, and apply stealth takedowns to incapacitate unsuspecting foes. The only problem is that such tactics are not punished as harshly as they should be. Players can usually recover from botched stealth operations through some well-timed button-bashing, making this a playable yet unchallenging affair.
Beyond the principal gameplay, there have been numerous attempts to flesh out the experience. There are vehicular segments with ropey handling, and puzzle sequences that have been ripped straight out of Gameloft's NOVA. The light RPG elements, which see you level up and improve your skills, are a more interesting inclusion.
The range of upgrades available is very extensive, and those who wish to forgo the levelling-up grind can purchase items through in-app transactions for real money, though we don't expect many right-minded people will select the option to purchase £69.99 worth of credits.
The Dark Knight Rises boasts high production values, but will run reasonably smoothly on a first-generation iPad. The graphics look a little rough around the edges unless you're running it on a retina display, though the character models are solid and resemble their on-screen counterparts (with the exception of Catwoman, who looks like Kristin Davis for some reason).
Our only real quibble from a visual standpoint was with the way the camera managed to position itself in the most obstructive spots during some of the action sequences.
While The Dark Knight Rises doesn't quite live up to its cinematic namesake, Gameloft deserve credit for capturing the feel of the Arkham titles if not the depth and challenge. It's very true to the film without being a classic in its own right, so the so-called Nolanites will no doubt find something to appreciate here.