I have been a massive fan of the entire Batman Arkham series of games since I confidently escorted the Joker to his new ‘home’ in Arkham Asylum. Well, the first game to take the Arkham franchise to mobile devices Batman Arkham Underworld was released a few days ago. So, I could hardly let that pass me by, could I? I do what I normally do in situations like this. I download it immediately, and spend all my commutes to and from work playing it, just for you.
There isn’t really a storyline in Arkham Underworld. Well, not in the conventional sense. The game starts as you bust The Riddler from jail, and by way of a tutorial you’re taken through the various mission types you can have and how to manage your base. There’s a purpose to the game, of course there is, and this is to build a big criminal empire, recruit famous Batman villains and generally cause chaos to other criminally minded folks but not what you would call a story.
So, as I alluded to earlier there are two very distinct areas within the game. You have the action part, which involves you sending a major villain and his or her minions into various criminal dwellings where, upon arrival you kick your way through the door, kill the inhabitants and steal or destroy anything that isn’t nailed down and sometimes even if it is. The second part of the game is building up your base, and recruiting thugs and villains you need to perform your criminal deeds and become the insanely criminal mastermind you’ve always hoped to be.
So, let’s look at the action mission part of the game first. All of the missions available to you are shown on a map of Gotham City with the level of difficulty/player level shown on an icon. These missions area mix of both app generated missions and player hideouts which, if you’re feeling particularly malevolent can be the target of your next unwarranted attack or bloody-minded revenge if you were attacked yourself. Don’t worry; you can actually scout the building before you decide to attack and if it looks to heavy, walk away.
If you do decide to attack (and why wouldn’t you? You’re a villain after all) then it’s a matter of selecting where your master villain and their minions are going to attack, and they will move there, blowing up any doors, enemies or targets in the process. Of course, the inhabitants generally don’t let you do this, and will try to kill you. Thankfully, your major villain (The Riddler, Harley Quin, Scarecrow etc.) have various special skills that sets them above the standard run-of-the-mill bad guy, learn how to use your skills and things get a whole lot easier.
The second part of the game is a resource management base building game that scarcely needs much explanation. There are two currencies, cold hard cash, and reputation. Both of which are accumulated by completing missions and building the right items for your hideout. Did you know that a criminally insane super-villains reputation is based on how many VT’s in the minion’s breakroom? No, neither did I. As your funds and level increases more rooms become available, as does the ability to train your bad guys and upgrade rooms. Making you better prepared for your next criminal endeavour.
The whole feel of the app is done in the style that you should be very familiar with if you’ve played any of the other Batman Arkham games, with each master villain faithfully drawn to capture the look and feel of the PC, and console versions. The graphics are clear and detailed on a small mobile device and when it comes to your own hideout, the rooms are distinctive enough to be easily recognisable.
Sound-effect wise it’s nothing special, the music and sound effects are as you’d expect, bullets sound all bulletey and the ne’er-do-wells you hire or coerce to do your evil bidding sound suitably thugish and dim-witted. However, the real charm of the sound used in Batman Arkham Underworld (and I admit it’s not exactly a major thing, but the people who voice most if not all the voices in the other Arkham games voice the same characters in underworld. Harley Quinn is still voiced by Tara Strong and The Riddler is still voiced by Wally Wingert.
Replayability is probably where Batman Arkham underworld lets itself down. If you get bored with your current game, there is no incentive to start again. No different modes, difficulties or unlocks. You’d just start again and hope things would end up differently. You could still design your base differently and upgrade your heroes differently but I doubt this would be enough to make anyone start again.
As far as Batman Arkham games go, Batman Arkham Underworld is a worthy attempt at a mobile game, however despite its detailed graphics and faithful style, I found that the game did nothing except make we want to go back and play Asylum, City, Origins and Knight again. There’s nothing overly wrong with B:AU, but at the same time there isn’t really anything that makes it stand out from the crowd either. Unless you’re a die-hard, must-own-every-game-in-the-Arkham-franchise type, you probably won’t get a great deal of play out of it.
- Storyline – N/A
- Gameplay – 65%
- Graphics – 85%
- Sound – 70%
- Replayability – 50%