25
Jul
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Superhero tie-in games are inevitable. But over the last decade or so, gamers have found that they're not inevitably bad. Spider-man and Batman have both had something of a renaissance on consoles, helping us to forget some truly awful licensed titles. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City have demonstrated that exceptional gaming experiences can spring from licensed titles, at least when enough talent, creativity and resources are directed at them. It was these two games, even more than its movie tie-in, that inspired Gameloft in the creation of The Dark Knight Rises for Android.

If you're going to copy something, a game that's been nearly universally applauded is a good place to start. The Dark Knight Rises brings reasonably open-world gameplay and a similar counter-based combat system to pint-sized hardware. Even the signature cape glide, grappling hook and stealth vantage points are present, albeit in modified forms for touch control. Dropping down from a convenient hidey-hole and knocking out an armed guard pushes the same mental buttons as in the above titles.

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The plot, which loosely follows that of the blockbuster, takes a backseat to the action. Those hoping for a play-by-play of the social struggles in The Dark Knight Rises will be disappointed. But then, monologues on the nature of justice and the morality of compromise would hardly make for compelling gameplay. You'll get a story that intersects with the movie at key points, filling in with what boils down to a lot of fetch-quests and wave after wave of baddies. The puzzles presented include a hacking mini-game similar to Mass Effect, though the justification for some of them - like "hacking" into three separate power couplings to move a train - are a bit contrived. Small point: why does Bruce Wayne have to collect "credits" for power-ups? You'd think he could just, you know, buy them.

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Dynamic Do-Over

Unfortunately, TDKR features a few problems that are rather endemic to third-person action games with touch controls. Moving Batman around and keeping the camera at an appropriate angle is nearly impossible, unless you're blessed with three thumbs. And though Gameloft is copying Rocksteady in combat and gadgets, they can't seem to get the flowing movement just right - ol' Bats moves around as if he's had his back broken. Dispatching enemies is a fairly bland chop-socky affair. Though you're given plenty of trick batarangs to play with, none are as effective as a knuckle sandwich. In contrast, the vehicle segments are great fun, for the short time that they last.

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The graphics on the Android version leave a lot to be desired, at least once you get past Batman's costume. It seems that at any given moment half of the game's polygons are being dedicated to the various nooks and crannies of the Batsuit, leaving enemies and environments quite bland. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but when central characters like Selina Kyle and Bane look like they're made out of Lego, you've got some seriously unbalanced visuals. The voice acting is serviceable, though with the exception of the gravely Bale-Batman voice, none of the sound-a-likes are particularly convincing. At least the game is fully voiced.

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The Christopher Nolan series of Batman movies take a pretty serious attitude to the caped crusader, and that follows over to the Android game. You won't be beating up on giant crocodiles or dodging murderous plants; here you're mainly stepping out around Gotham and beating up thug after thug. And while that makes for a gritty and almost believable universe for a movie series, it makes for a dull, dull game. An overriding gray and brown color scheme doesn't help matters - and doesn't help to actually see elements and enemies on a glossy touchscreen.

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Holy Unnecessary Bloat, Batman!

Though normally a pretty trivial concern, the sheer size and compatibility of this game deserves some attention. The Dark Knight Rises is a whopping 3.6 gigabytes, which is nearly the size of a standard DVD, just for the mobile game. Half of that will come from the Play Store download, the other half will be downloaded after you install the game. That's beyond bloated, it's ridiculous: this one game would wipe out the storage capacity of many phones and even weight down some tablets. The Nexus 7 8GB would be brought to its knees. With mobile data getting more and more expensive, this kind of lazy optimization really isn't tolerable anymore.

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You get a lot of game for seven bucks: the main story is split into chapters with three to seven missions apiece, each taking about ten minutes to get through. For Gameloft (and for games with this kind of pre-existing hook in general), that ain't bad. That said, those looking for a high-quality title should look elsewhere. That seven dollars is better spent on saving up for one of the Arkham games if you've got a console or PC. (By the way, the original Arkham Asylum is just $13 this weekend on Steam.) And if you don't, then just buy something else - there are plenty of action games on Android that are just plain better.

UPDATE: Gameloft released an update to The Dark Knight Rises, fixing a bug that apparently downloaded all the game files twice and added Nexus 7 compatibility. It's still a pretty huge game with graphics that don't justify the space used.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

    I still can't get over the fact that this needs 3.6gigs. Gameloft thinks they can pull crap like that I guess.

    • http://twitter.com/daveloft Dave Loft

      It doesn't, the author of this article is wrong. It needs 1.8GB which is still large but it ain't no 3.6GB.

  • Himmat Singh

    3.6 gigs is really ridiculous considering the iOS version which is exactly the same has a 800MB download and 1.4GB install size.

    The simplest reason I can think of is Gameloft has been lazy and made everyone download all versions (in terms of resolution) of the game to save their time and effort.

    • thistimearound

      Bingo.

    • Mr. Mark

      It's not 3.6 gb... It's 1.8 Gb.

  • ocdtrekkie

    Complain about the graphics quality.
    Complain about the file size.

    ^- These are completely contradictory arguments.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      No, they're not.

      • ocdtrekkie

        The majority of most games file sizes is graphics and sound. If you want better graphics, it's probably going to be bigger files most of the time.

        • http://androidcowboy.com/ Android Cowboy

          Disagree. How come the Gameloft games get bigger file size in each game yet graphics are not getting better. I'm sorry but Madfinger Games has set the standard. Great graphics in small file size. After that I'm not willing to pay and download over 1GB unless the game better be console quality graphics and gameplay.

          • itsgonnalast

            You are 100% right. I have pretty low-end hardware (HTC Flyer & HTC Thunderbolt) and the first time I played Shadowgun, my jaw dropped. Even on outdated hardware the images and animation are perfect. I think Shadowgun was only like a 40MB download, too.

  • http://twitter.com/thepowerofscott Scott Nienhuis

    My biggest problem? Selina Kyle looking like Lego. How disappointing.

  • Ben Baggley

    It actually only needs 1.8GB, there was a bug in the initial release where the game downloaded the resources twice, but it has been fixed.

    • http://androidcowboy.com/ Android Cowboy

      1.8GB is still too big. Have you tried Gameloft games. Everytime you try to download, it craps out during the process. It takes usually more than 1 hr and repeated repeated tries to download a game. Either make the file size much slower or at the least have a reliable download as courtesy.

      • Ben Baggley

        This is a pretty huge game though, and yes but this actually uses an extra data file which is downloaded directly from the Play Store along with the apk. This means its much more reliable and your 15 minute refund window actually starts when you have the full game.

  • Sean

    never have been a fan of gameloft, this type of thing doesn't surprise me

  • Mido

    Does this game contain movie spoilers? I want to play it but I haven't watched the movie yet!

    • Francis

      Very much so. Don't play it until you watch the movie.

  • Danny Holyoake

    Can we stop the Dead Trigger circlejerk? It's a dull game with horrid controls.

    • Cheeseball

      Where in the article does it even mention Dead Trigger?

      If you can't play the game properly, looks like you need to practice.

    • Cheeseball

      Where in the article does it even mention Dead Trigger?

      If you can't play the game properly, looks like you need to practice.

    • Warren

      I like a good circle jerk as much as the next guy, but I agree with you about Dead Trigger it simply isn't a good game.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Yes, the game needs only 1.7 GB of data, not 3.6. Also, that scene with Selina Kyle is the same I took a screenshot of on my phone while playing it to show my friend how back the graphics were, haha.
    Also, "The graphics on the Android version leave a lot to be desired"? Does the iOS version have better graphics? :O

    • Francis

      I think this was said in comparison to the PC/Console Batman games.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Ah, good to hear, haha.

        • Badum durr

          No. actually the iphone version looks wayyyyy better.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhpL2-B1G7A(iphone)
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87b1yCDG3zo(android. skip to 11:00)

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            Damn! Rain effects, blur, proper faces! So much better on iOS! Stupid Gameloft not putting them on Android, though I guess since the game size is big on both, they're just disabling effects on Android -.-

          • MrBadass

            with the effort that goes into making mobile games, you should be calling yourself stupid

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            Ah, right. Call myself stupid and spend $7 on Gameloft's games when they have such practices of dialling down the graphics like that. But I guess Android's many hardware is to blame, they didn't want problems cropping up on devices that may not have been able to handle those graphics.

  • strra

    Funny. Gameloft must not have given androidpolice a payoff! Androidcentral has had story after story about this game (some having very misleading titles just trying to get you to click) and gave this game stellar reviews. Another reason AP is my go-to android blog :-)

    • lol@lol.com

      do you want a cookie or something?

    • bias

      to be fair, this isn't really the place you should go for game reviews. none of the writers are actual gamers here and i've read some pretty dumb stuff from them. still, it's not like they're their opinions are invalid.

  • Dipish

    The graphics look ugly

    • lol

      lol...so then what you call as beautiful graphics, speaking strictly on mobile platform?

      • Dipish

        Dead Trigger, for instance. Heck, even GTAIII and Max Payne looks better than those screenshots with edgy character models...

  • http://androidcowboy.com/ Android Cowboy

    Gameloft has serious issues with game size. All their games are in the 1GB or more range. I'm not a programmer but I'm not sure how good they are. Specially after Dead Trigger comes at a measly 100mb and is better in graphics than all of Gameloft's games. Seriously they need to work on this because it is an issue.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Dead Trigger does have smaller areas compared to what Gameloft's games typically have, but yeah, have to admit the size of their games is just too big.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Dead Trigger does have smaller areas compared to what Gameloft's games typically have, but yeah, have to admit the size of their games is just too big.

    • asdas

      dead trigger is a arcade-style minigame. it has barely any content. you can't compare it to full fledged games. shadowgun would be the one to compare them to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636137237 Marian Zorrilla

    What? It´s just 1.7Gb

  • rXa

    you all should try playing this game on galaxy tab 7.0 plus..the graphic is awesome..
    there is a rain effect and the character of selina and bane looks exactly like it's actrees/ actor. not to mention the batman/ bruce character itself..
    for me this is the best android game so far when it comes to graphic..

  • dave

    In mi time, we care about gameplay and plot, not graphics and file size

    • Jasonc07

      Good thing both gameplay and plot were discussed then right?

  • http://twitter.com/benbaranovsky Ben Baranovsky

    Dear Gameloft,

    When you charge me for a game, do not attempt to make me purchase credits in-game. It does not make me think highly of you. I want my money back and I didn't even buy the game.

    Sincerely,
    People with Morals

    • Himmat Singh

      Like they give a f* about morals. hah!

  • Special Bean

    Is this really an official Dark Knight Rises game? Or has Gameloft just gotten even more shameless (if that's possible)?

  • What

    there's only so much you can do about the size of a game. i won't defend this one specifically because it indeed doesn't look like it should even be half as big as it is, but if you think 1.5gb is too much for a game, you should either expect dreamcast-class graphics forever, or stupid minigames. sound, texture, shaders and polygons take up space. if you want a lot of them, you'll better have the storage for it. period.

    to me, it's the device's storage that are at fault. by now we should all have at least 64gb of internal memory AND a micro SD card slot so we can bump that to 128gb. but noooo. they cut on storage on the pretense that all you need is 8gb and you can use the cloud for that. which is completely and utterly retarded, specially with the limited data plans we all have to swallow nowadays. Granted, i'm fine with my mere 32gb for now even when installing a bunch of gameloft games, my "breathing room" is only 8gb, and that's because i'm very selective with what kinda of media i carry with me.

  • Parth.S

    I beg to differ with your view. First of its not that you need three thumbs to play the game, you need to the type who can adapt to gameplay or an fairly enthu gamer. Secondly, the fact that the game offers an immersive open world gameplay would mean that the game size will be big. And once you're done with the game you can remove from the device and install it back again when you feel like playing it again. No need to buy it again. I've been playing this game since a week, for the same duration that I've been using the Nexus 7, and believe me its good that I didn't buy a portable gaming device so far...Hate it when a non-gamer reviews a game..No offense intended

  • Gerard Hampton

    Gees complain much. Most of the better gfx ios games are between 1-2gbs. the gfx on this game are great on my s3 and will look great on a decent tablet, ie tegra units. if you dont want the game dont buy it. if its too big, dont buy it. reviews should make note of file size not complain about them. stick with gameplay and build quality for a decent review. That being said dont get this game if 1, you have no memory. 2, your device doesnt have decent gfx power. 3, you dont like Batman. watch a video on the gameplay and buy it if you want.

  • Bob Long

    Great game! however I had lag and graphic issues initially. After I downloaded this app, I was able to play without issues:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.graphicoptimizer&feature=more_from_developer#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEwMiwiY29tLmdyYXBoaWNvcHRpbWl6ZXIiXQ..

  • shayan

    @gmail.comI have barman but when I go to game it kick me out my phone is xperia mini please help me in (shayanshayan

  • http://www.mygadgetsinfo.com/ Manender Bana

    I played the dark knight rises android game on my galaxy S2. This game is absolutly awesome.

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