The Great, Terrible Dark Knight Rises Game

The official video game for The Dark Knight Rises costs $US7, looks amazing on my iPad, is a bit of a mess and is one of the most important video games of the year.

It's also not as good as the movie. Not even close...and that's even if you didn't think that highly of the movie.

The Dark Knight Rises game is, really, an astounding mediocrity. It's an open-world Batman game that plays like a poor man's Batman: Arkham City, the critically acclaimed $US60 open-world Batman game of last year. You'll notice that this poor man's version costs nearly a 10th of Arkham City, but is maybe only a quarter as good. What's astounding is that, for this cheap, on this machine, it runs. (See the video we shot of it, above.)

The game runs pretty well as it tosses the player into Bane-controlled Gotham after very crudely rushing through the first-half of the movie in its opening chapter. As Batman, we will take missions from Commissioner Gordon and other do-gooders as we repel Bane's forces in Gotham. We will defeat Bane by beating up one gang of bad guys at a time and by defusing a lot of bombs. We can punch guys, grab them with a grappling hook and counter-punch them. We can toss Batarangs, grapple to rooftops and Bat-glide across the city. We can ride vehicles and upgrade Batman's gear. We can do all this even though the game sometimes glitches (bad guys get stuck running in place behind half-walls). We can do this even though sometimes two mission-givers talk over each other. We can do this even though no one ever opens their mouth when they speak their lines and try in vain to sound like the movie's actors. We can do these Batman things even though our thumbs will sometimes slip and hit the wrong virtual buttons on the iPad's screen and even though the game follows the plot of the movie about as faithfully as your friend's Facebook timeline follows the actual events of his life.

This is a 2012 version of the so-so officially-licensed movie game that our ancestors had to pay full price for back in the Super Nintendo and PlayStation eras.

This is, in other words, a 2012 version of the so-so officially-licensed movie game that our ancestors had to pay full price for back in the Super Nintendo and PlayStation eras. This is a passable game released in order to officially glom onto the release of a movie. The shock here is that it's been done for $US7 and that, the iPad/iPhone/Android's lack of buttons notwithstanding, it's a shockingly attractive and substantial multi-chapter game. It brings to mind the aphorism that there are no bad video games, just bad price-points. For $US7 you can pretend to be Batman with imitation-Hans-Zimmer music playing as you glide through a large open city? Sure.

But if mediocre Official Games of the Movies take root on the iPad, iPhone and Android, what's a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 console good for anyway? Actual good games? Oh, but the gap is closing. The quality of iOS and Android games is catching up. Makers of consoles — makers of the machines on which there is no official Dark Knight Rises video game — the pressure is on. And owners of iPads, iPhones and Android, for $US7, there's a good enough game here. Have fun. And don't laugh too hard at how the game mangles the plot of the movie.

The Dark Knight Rises [$6.99, iTunes]

The Dark Knight Rises [$6.99, Android]


    "mess and is one of the most important video games of the year"

    i'm sick of this video game junior blogger hyperbole :/

      im sick of every article having whining comments like this. if you dont like the articles, why are you coming to this site?

      Also, Totilo is the editor of Kotaku US, hardly a juniour blogger. He substantiates that point quite well throughout the rest of his piece.

      Don't like it? Go write your own blog explaining why. Otherwise you are, as Nick points out, just whining.

    No game by Gameloft will ever be good.

    The gap is closing... but pressure? (from a non financial perspective anyway) Hardly. It's a still a massive gap.

    Also, I'm sick of people whining about people whining, if you don't like people whining go write your own blog explaining why, otherwise it's just whining.
    I'm next I'm next!

    Arkham City on my phone for $7? (Okay, so not entirely) I find that rather tempting.

    This game looks terrible. It doesn't look even a quarter as good as Arkham City. Maybe 3% in my opinion. I own an iPad and I have yet to find a truly enjoyable game on it that I can put more than an hour or two into. I'm sick of seeing people pretend that tablet gaming is a real thing that we should care about. It isn't...the games are almost all poor clones of quality console games with controls that are only just barely functional, if at all functional. It reminds me of the Wii all over again. At one point everybody thought motion control was the future, it wasn't. Now they think touch screen gaming is the future, it isn't.

      The moment the average consumer is willing to lay down AUD$80 for an iPad game is the moment you will start seeing games on par with their console brethren.

      What is terrible are games that attempt to replicate existing game designs on console, on minuscule budgets and with fundamentally different control inputs. Why should a game need to be longer than 'more than an hour or two' to be enjoyable? Noone thinks 'touch screen gaming' is 'the future.'

    even 7 dollars is steep with steam sales and console price of arkham city

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    I share some of the sentiments of this article however what you get for your 7 bucks is pretty good. I wasn't expecting a AAA title but what the game does and graphically speaking as well didn't leave me feeling ripped off by another shoddy clone... Well not like their either clones anyways. I think we're starting to see an improved range of games for tablets and phones and that I am excited about.

    Couldn't be worse than the film.

    As an avid console gamer, I will say that I HATE tablet/smartphone games. The controls are terrible, and I despise the virtual thumbsticks. They are awkward and almost non-functional. The cost of the newest console Batman game, Arkham City is about 10x more than this tablet/smartphone game, but in my opinion, Arkham City is at least 100x better than this crap. It's a rich, in-depth, fully-realized experience that puts you right in the middle of Batman's world and gives you full control over the character. This tablet game is just shallow entertainment that doubles as a revenue-generating advertisement for the (fantastic) movie. It's glorified thumb-twiddling for people who are not gamers to pass the time while waiting at the doctor's office or between classes. And that's totally fine, have at it, but don't compare it to console games.

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