Batman: Arkham Asylum didn’t exactly set a fire under fans during pre-production, but it was Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. who had the last laugh as their now groundbreaking title went on to win several Game of the Year awards, and our highest possible praises.
This time things are different: the eyes of industry are focused quite firmly on Rocksteady Studios, eagerly awaiting every little nugget of information that they throw our way in the build up to the release of Batman: Arkham City on October 18th in the USA and October 21st in Europe. Thankfully, those little nuggets of information have been very interesting indeed.
As can be expected, Arkham City is going to be bigger than it’s predecessor, but Lead Narrative Designer Paul Crocker has been keen to tell media outlets such as nowgamer.com just how big.
This time around the action has moved from the island-based asylum to a section of the city which has been converted into a gigantic prison to cope with Gotham’s escalating crime problem. In terms of scale, Arkham City is about 5x bigger than Arkham Asylum.
But it’s not just raw size that the designers have turned their attention to. The whole scale of the plot, character design, missions and gadgets has been ramped up to create an engrossing and satisfying experience. In total, the developers believe the campaign will take about 40 hours to complete.
The first thing you’ll probably notice from the videos is that Batman’s ability to glide has been upgraded, giving the player greater options in covering the game’s very three-dimensional terrain. The grappling hook can also be utilised mid-glide to boost your progress.
The new setting has given the developers some very interesting possibilities in creating a new universe for Batman to deal with. Whilst they may be playing some cards close to the chest, they have revealed that there will be different factions vying for control and the character of areas will change as Batman has an impact on things.
One of the most exciting revelations is the ability to control another character within the campaign itself. Challenge mode will be back, and Rocksteady have revealed that Robin will be available as a DLC character, much as Joker was in Arkham City. But this time around players will take control of Catwoman at certain points within the game. For a glimpse of her unique style of play, see the video:
But not everything has been made bigger and better. Rocksteady have been keen to stress that one very important element in the first game has actually been scaled down: Detective Mode.
According to Gamespot, Art Director David Hego was horrified to discover that gamers were basically playing the whole game through in Detective Mode, and completely missing all the hard work and effort that has gone into the game’s visual presentation.
Detective Mode will still be an important part of the game, and will even be more versatile than before, but to prevent history from repeating itself, it will be more of an “augmented reality” system than a completely separate way of viewing the game.
All be told, the last quarter of 2011 is packed with contenders for Game of the Year, but if Batman: Arkham City can deliver on its potential, then the judges may be left with a very tough task indeed.