Given the high level of connection that many feel to the Batman series, developing a video game that lives up to expectations is not easy.
Especially when the game is The Dark Knight Rises. As the final film in the most recent Batman trilogy, it has a lot to live up to. The movie carved out a very specific tone and feel; if the game were to not match that it would be instantly disappointing.
Fortunately, the atmosphere and feel of the iOS version of The Dark Knight Returns mostly live up to this goal. You of course play as Batman, working your way through many of the sequences from the film. The first-person perspective and continual narrative help solidify the experience.
It is not a complete recreation, so do not get too disappointed if the developers did not follow every detail from the script. Yet there is a significant number of missions and enemies to fight that are very Batmanesque. Available as a universal app for iOS, it plays rather well on both devices. I found the additional screen real estate of the iPad to be helpful when scoping out enemies from hidden perches, as Batman must often do.
The controls work really well, especially quick moves and gestures while fighting. Turning around and rapidly changing angles is always going to be a challenge on a tablet or smartphone, but in most situations it will not be a major hindrance to effective gameplay.
Much of the The Dark Knight Rises feels very open, similar to the Grand Theft Auto series. You can wander the streets and interact with characters, even from time to time rescuing innocent citizens from unsavory individuals. Take aim at them whenever possible, as it means more points for stocking up with weapons and additional gear.
Fighting and maneuvering through the game is conducted in the way that you would expect out of Batman. He must fly carefully across buildings, duck and hide on the corners of skyscrapers or in alleys, and of course use fighting skills and Batman weaponry to take out enemies. Later in the game as the number of enemies and the complexity of missions increase, you won’t be able to just charge as if you were the Master Chief from the Halo series. Careful planning and thinking are often required, which is what we would expect of The Dark Knight himself.
Yet if you are after action, don’t fret. There is plenty of Batman-style butt kicking to be had. You get to unleash justice with an array of bat weapons and fighting moves. After needing to find your way through some of the more labyrinthian components of the game, it feels good to beat up some bad guys.
The Dark Knight Returns is a well thought out and designed game for iOS. I only discovered a couple of hiccups while playing, with the overall atmosphere and experience engaging and true to the film. Those who loved the movie will likely find it a worthy complement.