As we glide towards Batman: Arkham City‘s North American release, Rocksteady Studios Game Director Sefton Hill is claiming that the main story takes 25 hours to play through, with an additional 15 hours of side missions. Arkham City is one of the most anticipated games of 2011, and we look forward to losing ourselves in Rocksteady’s faithful recreation of the Dark Knight’s adventures for as long as it takes to complete a modern RPG.

Hopefully by now you’ve treated yourself to Batman: Arkham Asylum, the game that pulled together easy-to-learn but hard-to-master core gameplay mechanics, beautiful visuals, excellent (and iconic) voice acting, and a clear attention to detail and backstory.

In short, a project that treated Batman with the respect he deserves.

The most common compliment heaped on the title was the way it made players truly feel like a highly-trained and versatile superhero when you played it, with the excellence of the final product a welcome surprise to many.

We’ll reserve final judgement until the game’s release, but with the knowledge of what worked in Arkham Asylum, and over a year to polish Arkham City, Rocksteady could be releasing another game of the year contender. One of the best ways to win praise from both players and critics is to not just break new ground in terms of game design, but to use the medium of video games to its full potential.

Given just how well Rocksteady Studios proved their talent with Arkham Asylum it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that this fact is at the forefront of the development team’s collective mind. The unique opportunity to tell a deep, rich story in their upcoming game is one that the developers are taking full advantage of, which Hill explained in a recent interview with The Guardian:

“What’s exciting about game development at this time is that that developers are still experimenting with many different ways to keep players engaged. Because we have an instant feedback loop, we can tailor the experience to exactly what the player is doing. There are things we can do in videogames that simply can’t be done in any other medium.

“The Side Missions in Batman: Arkham City are a good example. We have around 15 hours of story that’s off the main path. It’s completely down to the player when and how they want to tackle this — there’s no right or wrong time. There’s no other medium that can offer this kind of flexible experience where the viewer gets to tailor the experience they want themselves.”

The developers have shared their thoughts on the first game, claiming that Arkham Asylum was too linear. So for Arkham City, the different gameplay mechanics and skills players have to master will be combined with a much larger, more expansive environment. More freedom to use inventive tools is always welcome, which will result in a very sizable campaign, according to Hill:

“It takes over 25 hours to complete the main stories in Batman: Arkham City. To keep players engaged for this length of time, not only do the characters and the story need to progress, but the core mechanics of the game they are playing need to change and adapt as well.

“The new abilities, upgrades and most importantly, the player’s mastery of the character, give this progression, resulting in an experience at the end of the game which is almost unrecognisable from that at the start….”

“To see players go from enjoying running around the Arkham City streets and then fast forward 10 hours to see them swooping hundreds of metres through back alleyways and impossibly tight spaces to glide into a group of heavily armed thugs and take them out in a matter of seconds is incredibly rewarding for us to see.”

That kind of mastery and learning curve is one that we were given a taste of in Arkham Asylum, but stretching it out over a longer and larger game could offer a much richer experience. Big changes aren’t the only ones being made with Rocksteady’s sequel, as Hill also confirmed that more realistic facial animations will be bringing even more drama to the game’s main characters.

You can check out the entire interview for an even better idea of the approach the developers are taking to Arkham City, and the intricacies of building a controller interface that captures the spirit of the Dark Knight.

Are you looking forward to facing off against an even more realistic version of Two-Face and the Riddler? Do you wish there was multiplayer, or better yet, co-op? Let us know in the comments.

Batman: Arkham City will be released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on October 18.

Source: The Guardian