Posted 3:00pm

Arkham City: New Screenshots And Details

My flatmate cites Arkham Asylum as his favourite game, and when I got home and told him that I’d been to see it at Warner Bros. London office, he put his fingers in his ears and turned the stereo up. It confirmed something I’d been thinking on the train home: this is one of those games that we’re better off not knowing much about.

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There’s five of us in the private screening room and Dax Ginn, marketing game manager at Rocksteady, has just played through an early mission from Arkham City, lasting around 30 minutes, which I’m not going to spoil for you. We are free to call out questions afterwards and one journalist asks, “Will we see anything like the Scarecrow missions from Arkham Asylum“?

“Did you like the scarecrow stuff”? he replies to slow nods. “Well we did too. Aren’t you glad that you didn’t know about the Scarecrow levels before you played Arkham Asylum? If they had been part of the marketing campaign they wouldn’t have had that kind of impact, so I’m just going to leave it there”.

The biggest difference between Arkham City and its predecessor is the move to a more open setting. In the intervening 18 months, Quincy Sharp, who was the warden of the Asylum, is elected Mayor of Gotham and transfers all of the inmates to Arkham City. Batman has been watching all of this happen and he knows that he’s going to have to deal with it.

Arkham City is also around five times bigger than the Asylum and most of it is open to the player from the start”. Anything that is open to the sky is open to player right from the off”, Dax explains. “Nobody tells Batman where to go so it was important for us to give that freedom right at the start. The interiors are gated and will open as a result of narrative progression”.

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“Our attitude towards pacing is to throw everything at the player straight away and let them decide how and when they want to navigate those options. Telling a story in Arkham Asylum was very easy because it was a very linear experience. Arkham City isn’t a sandbox game but it’s not completely linear either – it’s somewhere in-between”.

“What we don’t want to do was ruin the pacing with frivolous collection missions where you have to go and find 50 things while Gotham is burning – Batman wouldn’t do that. We have a tight core narrative with clear paths; going off-piste inevitably yields other options but they are always character driven, whether that’s answering a phonecall from Zsasz and having him taunt you or finding an informant who reveals another snippet of information”.

Batman is able to negotiate this large, open space by gliding and swooping to gain momentum, using his Bat Claw to catch the corners of buildings and propel himself skyward. He can even hook onto patrol helicopters and perch on the landing gear as chaos unfolds beneath.

“If you’re just flying around the streets looking for a fight”, Dax adds, “you’ll pick up bits of information that have been designed to be communicated in an ambient fashion at that particular stage in the game. There is a vast amount of conversational dialogue that has been a serious job to write and record, but we finally finished it last Wednesday”.

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“We’re constantly looking at Arkham Asylum and seeing how it feeds into Arkham City. The same applies to characters, combat, moves; they all carry over but how they have evolved is directly related to the new challenges Batman is facing”.

This also applies to Detective Mode, an X-ray overlay that you use to gather forensic information. Some people had mixed feelings about it because, while it was very useful, they felt like they were missing out the game’s incredible visuals by using it.

“There weren’t a lot of criticisms of Arkham Asylum but that was one of them”, says Dax, ” and thinking about why people reacted the way that they did and what we’re going to do about it was really interesting. Batman is a detective, so removing detective mode wasn’t an option for us because it suits him so well and it allows us to do these slower paced investigation sections”.

“Our thinking was more about why people responded to it in that way. Gamers wanted it to be more of a tool, just like the Bat Claw is a tool. We hadn’t balanced it right so it felt more like an exploit than a tool, because it gave you so much information. That’s our understanding of the criticisms and our response has been to balance that information better”.

Before we finished, one journalist enquired if Rocksteady would be interested in working on a game adaptation of The Dark Knight Rises.

“He [Christopher Nolan] is a pretty amazing guy and that would be a brilliant lunchtime meeting to have, discussing how that might work. But what we find with the comic book license is that we get creative freedom to push the characters in pretty much any direction we like; we’re not bound to a single narrative. I’m not saying we’ll never make a game based on a movie, but as of right now and from a creative perspective, it’s not something we want to be doing”.

Arkham City is looking very much the worthy successor to my flatmate’s favourite PS3 game. From the sound of it, we can expect plenty of surprises when it is released, and I can promise you won’t read about them here first.

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Comments

33 Comments 12 Author replies
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Azard300 11 March, 2011 @ 3:04 pm   1

Cant wait for this game gonna be EPIC.

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 4:16 pm    

    I’ve just found out that Arkham City now has a release date: 21 October in Europe. Also, my original draft was twice the length of this. I have more info on the game if anyone has any questions.

 
GhostViper 11 March, 2011 @ 3:09 pm   2

It looks so great. Think I’m gonna go back and play the first game again.

 

I got to have it..!! :p

 
Carnivius_Prime 11 March, 2011 @ 3:16 pm   4

Well, it looks alright but I can’t say I enjoyed the first one much at all. Batman is pretty boring to play as. I played through to the end, finished the story and I had no desire to ever play it again.

I had much more fun playing the rather awesome NES game Batman if I’m honest. Damn that game has funky music.

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 4:43 pm    

    Each to their own. Personally, it’s easily in my top 3-5 PS3 games.

This is definately a Game Of The Year contender…… among others this year.

 
Skookie30 11 March, 2011 @ 4:05 pm   6

I‘m gonna highjack this blog post with this…….

http://www.thesixthaxis.com/2011/03/11/ps2-games-coming-to-android-ps3/

Mmmmm Let hope so i dont see why it shouldn’t be on Ps3 as well imports, ps2 games, cloud storeage = the bee knees ;)

 

Shouldn’t that be “favourite” and note “favorite” since this is not the US blog?

On topic, the game looks fantastic!

 

Lol. A typo myself.

Skookie….. what have you done now?

shaolinsword 11 March, 2011 @ 4:34 pm   10

I’m glad they’ve balanced Detective Mode because, although it was cool, it just felt like a massive cheat

I hope they put something in like the Arkham City plans in Sharp’s office

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 4:40 pm    

    That was an amazing touch. I was told that there will be a incredible amount to discover. Did you jear about Calendar Man? If you play the game on Christmas Day, Valentine’s and other days of note, you can call him and hear about a murder committed on that day.

I got a question mate, those it still have that open roam yet detailed feel to it?
Also is the button layout the same as AA?

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 4:42 pm    

    The detail is still top-drawer. It feels even more open than Arkham Asylum, partly because of the bigger, outdoor environment and partly because it’s so much quicker to glide around the world. You’re actually able to ‘fly’ from one side of the map to the other without touching the ground, if you like. I reckon I’ll send a lot more time veering off looking for side-quests and interrogating thugs in this one.

 
Skookie30 11 March, 2011 @ 4:43 pm   12

:( What did i Do? >_>

 
StevenHibs 11 March, 2011 @ 4:43 pm   13

Will Batman have some kind of hideout, a place where he can go to talk to alfred or gordon?

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 4:45 pm    

    Good question. I don’t know and I’m not sure I want to… I know it’s my job to know about this stuff but I really want to go on an info blackout and enjoy it first hand.

 
StevenHibs 11 March, 2011 @ 4:47 pm   14

And also, will we see Batman being really dark with interrogations, like in the Dark Knight movie, will we be able to control these interrogations and decide how far we can go! Lots of info on something like this would be great James! If you know of course ;)

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 4:50 pm    

    One thing I do know about interrogation: in Arkham City, you’ll encounter groups of thugs, one of which is the informant. You then have to take that guy out last to get the information, even though he is attacking you. It adds a great new dynamic to brawling.

 
StevenHibs 11 March, 2011 @ 4:49 pm   15

Thanks for the reply James, I understand what you mean, but hopefully there is somewhere you can go and just be a detective, ha :) Cause if memory served, Batman had a cave hidden in Arkham Asylum right ?

 
StevenHibs 11 March, 2011 @ 4:53 pm   16

Then hopefully seeing as the game takes place a year after Arkham Asylum, good old Bats seen this situation coming, and sneakily placed a hidden area with cocktails and batmobiles and batgirls, so we could take a break and chill out beside some models of Mr Freeze! (No pun intended)

 
StevenHibs 11 March, 2011 @ 4:56 pm   17

James, I feel as though I could be asking questions all night haha, so one final question and I will give you a break :) , any whispers of DLC ideas or ways in which the game could be expanded in anyway? Cheers, and have a good evening!

shaolinsword 11 March, 2011 @ 4:58 pm   18

I didn’t know anything about the calendar man (I didn’t even know you could ring people until now) do you know if they’ve included anything like the MGS2 team did like the little birthday cake on your birthday?

dotSilver 11 March, 2011 @ 5:06 pm   19

“Did you hear about Calendar Man? If you play the game on Christmas Day, Valentine’s and other days of note, you can call him and hear about a murder committed on that day.”

I heard about Calender Man, can you confirm that it’s just these sorts of holidays that you can call him? Or if there will be other specific dates no related to anything?

 
taurus82 11 March, 2011 @ 5:10 pm   20

You wouldn’t happen to know if our version has been given both MLAA & V-Sync??

 
taurus82 11 March, 2011 @ 5:15 pm   21

^^I would’ve asked Rocksteady myself, but twitter (both desktop and mobile) is now completely useless (for messaging at least) since FW3.60.

 
Jack-Bauer-89 11 March, 2011 @ 6:15 pm   22

Words can’t explain how excited I am for this! I’ve beat Arkham Asylum 7 times now and it got me into reading comics :D

Thanks for all the work you put into this post James!
I

    James Gallagher 11 March, 2011 @ 6:38 pm    

    You could say it’s just what I get paid for, but now and then you work on a game that makes you want to put in a couple of extra late nights in the office. Thanks for the thanks!

ShoaibO 11 March, 2011 @ 6:34 pm   24

Absolutely brilliant, so happy rocksteady are doing a sequel.

 
NOZonline 11 March, 2011 @ 6:43 pm   25

Awesome can’t wait for this aswell as UC3!

 
ShadowDoGGG 11 March, 2011 @ 6:55 pm   26

Why did they decide to choose October? The main reason this sold VERY well is because every tom dick and harry releases their game in the upcoming months to Christmas.

When Arkham Asylum there was NO releases for months either side, I think they should have kept to that tactic. Heck, it worked for pirates of the Caribbean – rubbish movie yet they time it right.

philmcg1981 11 March, 2011 @ 7:21 pm   27

i cant wait to play this it looks awsome

Erorrless 12 March, 2011 @ 8:51 am   28

open world games have been on a roll lately.
red dead redemption, LA noire, yakuza, batman, infamous. i think thats my new fav genre.

 
cthulhu85 12 March, 2011 @ 9:55 am   29

This game looks awesome. There’s just too many games that I’m excited about this year.

@Erorrless: Yeah open world games have become quite popular, and it’s definetly one of my favourite genre. I used to hate them, or in general third person games, but then I played Infamous and Assassins Creed and I was hooked.

 

Will there be any PS3 exclusive content?

 
StevenHibs 12 March, 2011 @ 12:52 pm   31

RockSteady are definitely going to support this game through Post launch DLC, one of their staff confirmed it, they simply said its to fill the “void” that multiplayer would have given players!

SEPE_ePe_MAN 12 March, 2011 @ 9:01 pm   32

Will you be able to drive any of Batmans vehicle’s in Arkahm City?

    James Gallagher 14 March, 2011 @ 10:52 am    

    Rocksteady has said that there won’t be any playable vehicles in Arkham City. They say that with the new and improved ways of getting around, Batman is already the “ultimate vehicle”.

SEPE_ePe_MAN 12 March, 2011 @ 9:08 pm   33

Will you be able to drive any of Batmans vehicle’s that would be awsome