Looking back at Batman: Arkham Asylum

Ones that got away

“Our iteration of Bane is maybe not what you expected from the comics. In the comics he’s very, very intelligent. We obviously didn’t go down that route. If you did, you’d need a lot more screen time to convey that. As for the other villains we’d like to have explored, my favourite is Mr Freeze. There’s a great duality there. He’s a bad guy, but he’s driven by a very pure idea that he loves his wife, who is in cryogenic storage and he’ll do anything he can to find the technology to revive her. So, he’s not necessarily pure evil, he does bad things to get his wife back which is an interesting concept to explore and build upon.

“There are characters that I find fascinating and the other members of the team would pick their own as well. There are so many characters in the universe. You could go on forever almost.”

The good guy

“We knew Batman couldn’t kill anyone. DC and Warner Bros drummed it into us that this could never happen. We tried to push the boundaries and they kept pushing back, so enemies falling unconscious pretty much happened from the start.

“What was cool was as we got further through the project, DC and WB kept coming back saying things like ‘these guys look like they’re dead. You can’t do that,’ so we added the ability for their chest to rise and fall, which looks like they’re breathing and enhanced the impression that they were unconscious. Also, as the detective modes and forensic aspects evolved we put in the ‘unconscious’ tags to reinforce the idea. So, it was always our plan to make them unconscious but we evolved the idea to make it more apparent.

“We also had to be really careful with our level design. There are a lot of places where you could do some serious damage to people by throwing them over huge gaps and stuff. Warner and DC weren’t too happy about that, so, and this is a testament to the strength of our level designers, we had some carefully laid out areas ensuring that wasn’t possible. We really like that stuff, but we had no misconceptions that we would ever get away with broken bodies or missing limbs.”

Which bat?

“The comics that mainly influenced us were Arkham Asylum, Venom, Living Hell, The Detective Files of Batman, and Hush. We took some of the forensic ideas from Hush. There are some good pages in the early parts with some nice onscreen display type stuff for Batman’s visor.

“No Batman game had ever done the forensics stuff before and it was something Warner Bros were really keen on and something we felt we could really go to town on, so the Detective Files of Batman helped a lot in that respect.

“But Arkham Asylum is probably the big one. There’s something special about that book. Not all the fans actually like it but that was definitely our starting point and a big influence in the early days. I mean, the ’60s series is fine. That’s where Batman was back then, but not now. As a character and a universe Batman has changed very much. The movies have changed it and the comic books too have gone much, much darker in more recent times.

“Although, we did suggest having a camp cheat mode with a few ‘Kapowww!’, ‘Powwwww!’, ‘Boopppppppp!’ and ‘Krrraaackkk! effects thrown in, but it was shot down.”