For quite some time, licensed games have left a horrible taste in the mouths of gamers, that is until Rocksteady released Batman: Arkham Asylum. Rocksteady proved that licensed games don’t need to be horrible tripe, and they crafted one of the best games of that year. The sequel, Arkham City also wowed gamers everywhere, allowing them to fight crime and seek justice around Gotham City as the Caped Crusader. Now with Arkham Origins coming out in the next few days NetherRealm Studios has released an iOS game that serves as a prequel to the new prequel game, George Lucas eat your heart out. The game is free to download for your iOS device and it a very fun and addictive Batman game.
The graphics on this game are truly exceptional. One would think that a free iOS Batman game would look shoddy or rushed, it looks neither. When you start the game you join Batman in the Batcave as he looks over the dossiers of six of the eight assassins that have entered Gotham at Black Mask’s behest to kill the Bat. This whole little scene looks so great, as if it was taken straight out of the Arkham Origins console version. And the graphics don’t just look great there, the menus look crisp and show you the awesome Batman suits that you can upgrade as you beat levels in the game. Once you are finally dropped off to the level in the Batplane you are not disappointed by the fighting graphics. NetherRealm Studios did not throw this game away because it was mobile, they made it as pretty as Arkham City and Injustice combined.
The story in this game is somewhat paper thin seeing as it’s just a lead in to Arkham Origins. You are tasked with cleaning out unwanted degenerates from areas of Gotham, all the while the assassins trying to kill you leap in and out. Alfred shows you on your Batcomputer where you need to go and what type of crime you will be stopping. Sometimes you will be stopping thugs from robbing ATMs, other times the thugs are destroying important architecture like Gotham’s famous Gargoyles. You move from mission to mission clearing the streets of crime and upgrading Batman’s moves and gadgets, that is the story, but with gameplay as fun as it is, the story doesn’t really matter.
The controls in this game are done extremely well, it cannot be easy to bring a fighting game onto a touch screen, but NetherRealm Studios nailed it. Batman punches when you tap the screen once, if you tap the screen three times he unleashes a combo that may call for you to swipe a certain direction to inflict more damage. To block you have to put two fingers on the screen, this is the only hitch in the control scheme, if you are in the middle of a combo and your enemy starts to glow gold, you can’t stop your combo and block his extreme hit. It detracts a bit from the controls, but it is definitely not a deal breaker. Batman’s special moves are located on the bottom of the screen, if you want to use his hard kick: Escalating Justice, you tap the boot on the bottom of the screen and you are given a quick time event to boost the power of the kick. This also works with Batman’s health packs, you tap the icon on the screen and his healths goes up a bit. The boss fights in this game are crafted extremely well. Obviously the bosses have to have special moves and NetherRealm Studios includes them in the game with such ease. CopperHead will try to use some Judo on Batman, but if you tap her knee and back at the right time she’ll fall off you and you can punch her straight back to jail.
Batman slowly levels up as he takes out the criminals and saves certain parts of Gotham. When you level up his health automatically goes up, but then certain attributes will unlock and be available for purchase. Batman can upgrade his “Skills” which include “Fisticuffs,” Pinpoint Accuracy” and so on. “Assault Stance” is also upgradeable, this is Batman’s offense, some moves like “Batswarm” allow Batman to set bats upon the criminals among other nifty little fighting moves. “Guarded Stance” is Batman’s defense, you can upgrade his “Health Booster” which when used gives Batman more health. All of these are very useful for you on your trek through Gotham, upgrade them when you can and use them often, or Batman may fail. Batsuits with certain perks are also unlockable and are very useful. You can unlock Batman’s The Long Halloween costume that protects Batman from poison. Or you can purchase an upgraded or Power Tier II of the Batsuit you were given at the outset of the game, this suit boosts Batman’s physical traits. Earth Two’s Batsuit is also available, it is very expensive but it reduces ballistic damage by twenty-five percent. These unlockables and upgrades make you continue fighting crime so that you can have fun with all the suits, just like Iron Man does.
The way NetherRealm Studios has used the tiny speakers on the iPhone device is amazing. The mission music is intense and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you battle through degenerate after degenerate. The voice acting is also great, for most gamers this is the first time they will hear Roger Craig Smith as Batman. They will not be disappointed, even if they grew up with Kevin Conroy in the Animated Series and know and love his voice as Batman’s, Craig does a great job filling those huge boots, it makes one excited to see how he does in the full game. The sound effects in this game really pull you into the action, the deafening crunch of fists against face make your teeth rattle. The explosions, the gunshots and the knife-swipes all sound so great, unless any of them hit you. NetherRealm Studios did not phone in any part of this game, everything meshes together perfectly and the sound is the icing on the cake.
NetherRealm Studios have created an amazing free to download prequel to Arkham Origins, if the console version of this game is as good and filled with as much love as they put into this game, then all comic book fan gamers are in for another treat. Many gamers were scared that the title went to another development studio and that the voice actors were switched out to show a younger Batman and Joker, but this little mobile game has put faith back on track for the big release on Friday. Batman fans, fighting fans, NetherRealm fans all need to download this game today. It’s a fun little fighter that will keep you busy and get you excited for Batman: Arkham Origins console release day.
Batman: Arkham Origins is available now on the app store for free. The game was reviewed on an iPhone 4S, the version was 1.0. All information regarding pricing and in-game items was correct at the time of review.