It's a visually rich, combat intense brawler that has you swiping and poking your way through hand-to-hand combat with Two-Face, Deathstroke, Solomon Grundy, the Joker and all of their henchmen. You get to level up your Batman, unlock a handy selection of gadgets and can even purchase four different takes on The Bat.
The $5.99 universal iOS game was developed by NetherRealm Studios, the folks behind Mortal Kombat, using the Unreal Engine, the same tools used to create the impressive Infinity Blade games for the iOS. And you can tell. Lockdown feels a bit like Infinity Blade Batman with a touch of Mortal Kombat thrown in for good measure.
Much of the game has players viewing Batman side as he stands a few paces away from his enemy, punching, kicking and ducking. Players swipe left, right or up to punch and kick. Some combinations deliver special attack combos as well. To dodge, you tap the screen at the right time and to deflect an attack you swipe down.
Occasionally, bad guys go into a sort of unblockable rampage mode. When that happens the glow red and you need to duck their special attacks, which are highlighted with exclamation points.
As you play through the game you earn Waynetech Credit which can be used to increase Batman's training, giving him more health, faster reaction and stronger hits. You can also use the credit to purchase equipment. He comes with a rechargable health pack which can be upgraded. You can also by shock gauntlets, smoke bombs and unlock the ability to summon swarms of bats to attack enemies.
All of these specials appear as icons along the bottom of the screen. You just tap them to activate them in a battle.
The fights are broken down into sections of the city. Once you clear an area you're returned to a map where you can select where you want to go next. The map includes four quadrants, one each for the villains. Each quadrant is broken up into four locations, three filled with henchman and the last the boss battle.
While boss battles always end with pretty straight forward fighting, they also contain some nice additional touches. In one you will be tilting your device to control the flight of a Batarang as it chances down an enemy. In another you need to tap the screen to break a hold.
Overall, Lockdown is a fun, surprisingly high fidelity experience. It does suffer from a little bit of chug on my iPhone 4, but not enough to make the game unplayable.
My chief disappointment was that the henchmen are a bit too similar, their attacks a bit too canned throughout the short-lived experience. I managed to play entirely through Lockdown in a single couple hour play session. Which is fine, but replaying the game, something Lockdown encourages you do to continue to unlock Batman's abilities and equipment, isn't nearly as fun the second time through. The game would be a lot more fun if they increased the variety of enemies and perhaps added new elements on additional play throughs.
Another neat addition to the game are the three other Batman suits you can buy. These suits, Animated Series Batman, The Dark Knight Returns Batman and Batman Beyond, aren't just skins, they each adjust Batman's health, damage and speed stats. They also seem to change his fighting style and animations. Each cost $.99, which seems a bit pricey to me, but I purchased Batman Beyond and am enjoying replaying the game as a completely new sort of Batman.
Finally, the game packs in an impressive, eclectic mix of extras. There are short bios for eight characters (including two I haven't seen in the game yet, so maybe there are more surprises in store for me.). There are also achievements, 16 Wallpapers and, this is the most baffling, digital versions of the comics Arkham City #1, 6 and 7. I don't know why those particular comics are included, nor why 2 through 5 aren't, but it's a nice freebie. Unfortunately the viewer is a major pain to use, but it is free.
Batman: Arkham City Lockdown is worth the $6 pricetag, but only just. If the team pumps out new, free content, the sort of free content we saw with Infinity Blade, then I'd say it is a must buy.
Batman: Arkham City Lockdown [iTunes]