It's the sequel to 2009's official Game of The Year. The artwork is hot. The screenshots are mind-blowing. So it's no surprise that anticipation for Batman: Arkham City has gone mega-off-the-sphincter-scale in the GamesRadar offices.
Unfortunately, we're not allowed anywhere near the game yet. But not so unlucky are the upstanding patriots of the UK's Official PlayStation Magazine. They have been to Rocksteady Studios. Actually inside. With permission. They have seen the game in action. They have met the development team. So kind of a big deal.
The tantalising fruits of this exclusive Batman: Arkham City trip can be found in the latest issue of the UK's Official PlayStation Magazine. We're talking extensive Arkham City coverage. Very sexy pagination and it's on sale now. Behold the cover:
Because they are good and decent and love their online brethren, OPM UK asked Rocksteady some Batman: Arkham City questions just for us. On our behalf. To share with our readers. Here, then, is the interview with Batman: Arkham City's game director, Sefton Hill.
Official PlayStation Magazine UK: Was there any kind of voting or selection process for the characters you’ve chosen this time or were the choices obvious?
Sefton Hill: The characters that are featured in the game are purely driven by the story. That’s where we always start because we only want to include characters that make sense and help develop the atmosphere, plot or characterisation. After that we chose the characters who we felt would have the most interesting time inside Arkham City.
How would these different characters react to being locked up inside these walls? Of course, with such a tremendous rogue’s gallery to choose from, we really are spoilt for choice. The opportunity to bring so many special characters into the Arkhamverse, to breath life into these characters within the walls of Arkham City was a genuine privilege for us.
OPM UK: What games have you played since the first instalment that have affected the sequel? Whether it’s ideas, influences or things you decided you didn’t want to do?
SH: Like every game studio, everyone at Rocksteady is a committed gamer, and as a team we all play very different games and are influenced in different ways. However, I personally always try to just enjoy other games and not over analyse them. If you want to create something new and fresh I think it is better to do it without following others even if it means you make more mistakes along the way. It is the act of trying and overcoming issues yourself which creates a more original game because it invariably requires you to come up with original solutions.
When it comes to design ideas we do, of course, have an unfair advantage! The back catalogue of Batman comic books and graphic novels is an incredibly valuable archive for us and we prefer to focus on the many decades of great comic book work in there and take inspiration from stand-out moments from within Batman’s world rather than anywhere else.
OPM UK: What’s the hardest part of scaling up Arkham Asylum’s gameplay to work in a city?
SH: Without a doubt, the hardest part of moving the game setting from the confines of the asylum into the urban sprawl of Arkham City was simply building the environment. Our objective in this game is not to make the biggest game we can, but to make the best game possible.
Gamers who played Batman: Arkham Asylum will know how dedicated we are as a studio to injecting an incredible amount of detail into every environment we build. It is this attention to detail that gives our games the deep and intense atmosphere that so many players have found so compelling, and so we have had to seriously scale up our art team in order to bring the same level of detail to Arkham City, which is about 4-5 times bigger than Arkham Asylum.
In terms of gameplay, we knew very early on that just scaling up Batman’s abilities and gadgets wasn’t going to work as he is fundamentally facing a new game world and totally different range of enemies in this game, so we took his move set from Batman: Arkham Asylum and built from there.
Looking at the raw amount of animations in this sequel, Batman’s moves have doubled in number and we also wanted to create an authentic sense of continuity from the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum, so the player will begin Batman: Arkham City with many of the same core gadgets that they unlocked in the first game. Batman’s cutting-edge technology is a significant part of the game, so gamers can expect to see a range of totally new gadgets, as well as evolved new features built into those tools that they already enjoyed in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Keep going for mocap, music and Clint Eastwood...