Interviews

Batman: Arkham City

We chat to Rocksteady's Sefton Hill

Batman might have stopped Joker and restored order in Arkham Asylum, but his work is, typically, far from over.

The Asylum has now taken over part of Gotham City itself, with the worst criminals in the world running riot.

The perfect excuse, then, to slip into codpiece once again for more brawling, gadgets, detecting and scaring thugs until they wet themselves. Welcome to the mean streets of Arkham City.

Hopes for this sequel are huge. How does that affect the development team?

It's true that, externally, there's now more anticipation, but I wouldn't say we feel more pressure because we put ourselves under a lot of strain for the first game.

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I find it better not to think too much about the weight of expectation for the second game because I'm obsessed enough already, and if you stop and think about the responsibility it can be more than a bit scary.

It's been the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to bed for the last three years, so I don't need any more motivation than I already have.

Do you see Arkham City as an evolution or a revolution of the first game?

There's definitely an evolution of story, but a revolution in terms of setting. It's important to us that players feel a sense of continuity between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

The story follows the events of the first game and even explains some of the mysteries of the Asylum. The location, however, is about four or five times larger than Arkham Island, so we had to develop new technologies to realise such a big and detailed environment - something that would have been impossible without the experience of the original.

Other games have aped aspects of Arkham Asylum, particularly the FreeFlow combat system. What are you doing to stay one step ahead of the competition?

FreeFlow was one of the key features that really made players feel the power and dynamism of Batman's unique fighting style. As with every other mechanic in the game, we haven't just transferred the design from Arkham Asylum, we've reviewed all parts of it and developed them for the new world and cast of villains.

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The combat's been expanded and now has new features, including twice as many moves for the player to perform, the ability to counter multiple enemies at once and the option to combo-in many of Batman's gadgets.

Have fan comments influenced the character roster?

We're always taking note of feedback, and it's pretty clear that there are many serious Batman fans out there with very strong ideas about which characters should be making an appearance.

Of course, it's impossible to please everybody, so our approach is to focus on making a great story and gameplay. We then choose the villains who'll help tell the tale and provide compelling and innovative moments for the player.

Did you ever consider making the game more open world?

We don't want to define Arkham City as an open world or linear experience. While the backbone is still the strong main narrative, there'll also be many character-driven sub-plots to reward gamers who explore the streets.

These optional side aspects will flesh out the story and show how many of Gotham's greatest villains have adapted to life inside a new facility. So, overall, there are elements of both a linear story and more open world
adventure.

I believe this combination will give the game a completely unique feel while remaining unmistakably authentic to Batman.

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