It's been a while since we last heard from Rocksteady on their follow-up to easily the best Batman game yet, Arkham City. But just this week, Game Director Sefton Hill has been discussing what gamers can expect from the sequel to perhaps the biggest sleeper-hit of this generation thus far. As if that wasn't enough, we've got a bit of info on femme fatale, Catwoman, a few brand new screenshots to tantalize you with. Read on!
Improving The Dark Knight
Arkham Asylum was a success on a number of fronts, but mainly it succeeded in making you truly feel like the Dark Knight himself. Lithe, agile and yet thunderously powerful, Batman dispatched goons like the capable combatant that he is. So with Arkham City, Rocksteady had the unenviable job of improving Batman's repetoire, while at the same time remaining true to the character.
"This is where we always start," states Hill, "what would it be fun to do as Batman? Once we have the answer to that question, we can then start to make the rest of the game." We already know Batman can now counter two enemies simultaneously, perform aerial takedowns and even utilize his range of gadgets whilst battering goons to a suitably bloody pulp, so Rocksteady seem to be on the right track.
And it's not just the combat that's important in defining Batman; it's who he's contending with. In the Asylum, Batman came face to face with the likes of Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, to name a few. Now, setting up shop in Arkham City are Harvey Dent's alter-ego, Two Face, Mr Freeze and the enigmatic Hugo Strange, who's plucking the proverbial puppet-strings. "We deliberately create villians that enable us to reinforce the difficult choices that Batman faces as a man and as the ultimate crime fighter".
Friend Or Foe?
In Arkham City, Batman stumbles on Two-Face in the midst of a public execution. The victim? None other than the latex-clad Catwoman. Bats rescues her from the maniacal Dent's clutches, but Catwoman's role in the game isn't so clear-cut. "He sees the good in her when other people don't," explains Hill to GamePro, "he wants her to be good".
When Catwoman was first announced, rumours ran rife with talk of a co-operative component. And while Rocksteady has neither confirmed or denied this, it appears clear Catwoman is a narrative, not a gameplay, component. "Sometimes she's the victim, and sometimes she's the savior". But how did she end up in Two-Face's lair, surrounded by an army of goons and the half-faced man himself?
Hugo Strange might know. As the unofficial mayor of Arkham City, he's privy to all it's darkest secrets, namely Batman's identity. "Strange's connection to Batman is really fascinating," enthuses Hill. Strange isn't interested in killing Batman. He's "fascinated" with his double-life as billionaire Bruce Wayne and crime-fighting Batman. "It puts everyone Batman knows and loves in danger," claims Hill, which may explain Catwoman's peril. "It's a very different type of threat from what the Joker brings".
Welcome To Arkham City
In the aftermath of Arkham Asylum's events, Quincy Sharp, the former warden of Arkham and now mayor of Gotham, has purchased a chunk of the city in an effort to relocate all the inmates. Renamed Arkham City, it's crawling with roaming gangs and an uprising of wannabe crime-lords, kept in check only by private military contractors, Tyga, under the supervision of psychiatrist, Professor Hugo Strange.
"The footprint of Arkham City is about five times bigger than Arkham Island," claims Hill, although simply making a bigger playground wasn't the idea in mind. "We really focused our efforts on creating an intense, pressure-cooker atmosphere by locking Batman in the madhouse and allowing the Joker to turn up the heat." And while Arkham City is undoubtedly bigger, it's as densely detailed as the Asylum, with countless side-quests and secrets lurking in the shadows.
However, don't expect a GTA-style experience. "I wouldn't describe the game as sand-box because that would not allow us to create the kind of atmosphere we wanted". Instead, expect an open-ended yet linear approach in the vein of Arkham Asylum, where Batman is trapped or contained with one sprawling portion of the city to explore. "Gamers will have to think and act like the Dark Knight if they want to survive in a place like Arkham City".
Hill ended the interview with a teasing comment concerning a potential multiplayer component in Arkham City. "We are not making announcements regarding multiplayer at this time". I wonder if the right time to discuss such a thing is around E3, hm?
Excited about Arkham City? Or are you less than impressed with the work being done? As always, sign off in the comments section below!