The Dark Knight Rises: Always Be Batman

There’s no other way to put this: I’m a huge Batman fan. I love all of the Christopher Nolan films, and I can’t wait to see The Dark Knight Rises in theaters. So when I saw that there was a game available for the iPad — the appropriately named The Dark Knight Rises (or TDKR) — well I knew I had to have it.

But games like TDKR on the iPad can be tricky. The controls either work or they don’t, and it’s tough to pack those types of actions onto a touchscreen device. So does this hit the mark or will Bane win the day? Let’s find out after the jump. 

A Word About Spoilers

Let me say this right off the bat: I have not seen The Dark Knight Rises in theaters yet, so I have no idea what the movie is about (other than what I’ve seen in commercials and trailers). What I tell you in the next few paragraphs may consist of spoilers, I just don’t know.

You know it takes place in Gotham City though, right?

You know it takes place in Gotham City though, right?

However, because I don’t want to ruin the movie for myself either, I played through a few chapters of the game without getting too deep into the plot. There will be screenshots here that show sequences that I assume will be in the movie, but as far as the plot of the game goes, it’s all very much introductory. For the most part, this should be spoiler-free.

The Plot

With all that spoiler talk out of the way, let’s get into the basic premise of the game. You’re Batman, and you start out on a rooftop overlooking a criminal deal going down between Selina Kyle and a bad guy. She stole something from Bruce Wayne, and he wants it back.

That's weird, my mother always told me to eat my vegetables.

That’s weird, my mother always told me to eat my vegetables.

As the game progresses, you run into Bane and a bunch of bad guys, then chase Selina Kyle (also known as Catwoman) through the subways. I presume the rest of the game goes through the acts of the movie, but again, I didn’t want to spoil the movie for myself so I only played the game for a few hours.

The Controls

The controls are arguably the most important part of playing this game, and I will say that they are a bit tricky. This is not a game that you’ll play laying on your couch; I found that I had to have the iPad on a solid surface, both hands free to play. Otherwise, this thing would be impossible.

Lots to do with your fingers on this one.

Lots to do with your fingers on this one.

That’s because there’s a virtual joystick on the left side of the screen, but if you touch anywhere on the right you can control the camera angle. It’s similar to using a Playstation or XBox controller, but without any tactile feedback. In addition, there are buttons along the right side of the screen, which work for jumping, climbing and hitting, plus for extra accessories that pop up when needed.

Accessories like the sweet grappling gun.

Accessories like the sweet grappling gun.

The controls make the game difficult to play at first, but you kind of get used to them. I say kind of, because you never really get a handle on things, and there will be occasions where you’re facing the wrong direction during a fight or get tripped up while driving. Speaking of, driving sucks. It’s a real pain in the butt.


But what about the game itself? Is it fun?

Add-ons come with experience and level upgrades, but you can bypass that with IAP.

Add-ons come with experience and level upgrades, but you can bypass that with IAP.

Oh yeah it is, this thing is a blast. You get all of Batman’s cool toys — the BatPod, grappling gun, batarangs and all that good stuff. Plus, you get to use it all. From the start you’re gliding off of buildings, then grappling up them to get to the top. Batarangs come in handy when you want to knock down someone from a distance, and you can even sneak up on bad guys if you like, too.

The Arkham Asylum Influence

I’ve been a fan of the Batman: Arkham Asylum/Arkham City line of games since their introduction. They’re lots of fun, and incorporate a ton of stealth features as well, like being able to grapple up to statues and sit quietly to stalk your victims.

Hang on the gargoyles like in Batman: Arkham City.

Hang on the gargoyles like in Batman: Arkham City.

TDKR has that same statue grappling mechanic, and Batman even moves just like the Arkham Asylum version. When you hit a bad guy, the final hit moves Batman in slow motion just like in Arkham Asylum. There are a lot of good things pulled from that series, but it’s much more difficult to execute them on a touchscreen. It’s still cool that they’re present, though.

Final Thoughts

TDKR is a lot of fun, but it’s also a little difficult to play. I found myself sitting at my desk, iPad propped up with a Smart Cover, using both hands to manipulate the controls. Even then, in a completely controlled environment, it was difficult to move the camera angle and not hit the buttons on the right. And since this game works like a traditional console game, you need that camera joystick. It’s tricky.

But it is a ton of fun, and at the end of the day, that’s pretty important. It’s a bit pricey at $6.99, but once the movie hype mellows out a bit, I’m sure that the price will drop as well. Even at full price, do I think it’s worth your money? I sure do. And the reason why reminds me of a meme I saw somewhere: “The most important thing in life is to be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.”


Play as Batman in the game inspired by the summer blockbuster.