For a developer who was taking on a property that was prone to delivering sub-par titles, Rocksteady Studios really knocked it out of the park with Batman: Arkham Asylum, making its sequel Arkham City one of the most highly anticipated titles of 2011. However, as usually is the case with a developer’s first outing with a beloved source material, Rocksteady had a few missteps along the way that kept Arkham Asylum from being perfect.
Speaking about Batman: Arkham City, Rocksteady revealed some of Asylum’s flaws and explained how they plan to fix them in this year’s sequel. Among those elements that Rocksteady highlighted were the uneven boss battles, open world side-quests, and toning done the prevalence of detective mode use.
When it came to the boss battles in Arkham Asylum, there were some that were extremely unique and inventive, and others that felt like a prolonged series of the dodge mechanic followed by attacking. During the development of Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady held off on including boss battles until very late in the cycle, but in Arkham City boss battle work started on day one.
Speaking with CVG, Rocksteady’s Marketing Manager Dax Ginn had this to say about the boss battles in Arkham Asylum versus those that will be in City:
"[Boss battles] came pretty late in Arkham Asylum, we weren't really planning on doing big boss battles and then we got to a point where we were like "We need climaxes throughout this game." We needed to give them more development time and we didn't have it so we've front-loaded the boss battles this time around so that we've got dedicated people working on them right the way through the dev cycle.”
Also in that interview Ginn explains the evolution of the detective mode between the two Batman titles. Whereas in the first one, detective mode reached an almost exploitative status — gamers constantly using it in order to ensure no enemies were around — Arkham City will use it as a tool for progression. Just like the Batclaw or the Batarang, detective mode’s use will be required for specific situations, but shouldn’t be as readily available as it was in Asylum.
Rocksteady didn’t, however, tell CVG how they plan to limit detective mode use, only stating that there will be a balance between the information the player can receive via detective mode versus normal mode.
The final most interesting aspect of Arkham City that Ginn was willing to talk about was how choosing to go with an even larger open world environment will impact the side-quests of the game. With no loading between the general hub world, players will have the freedom to complete the various side-quests whenever they so desire, but, like the first game, there may be events that alter the hub world and thus eliminate certain side-quests.
One such event that can occur in the world of Arkham City has to do with the three various factions that are battling for control of the newly created “prison.” Dependent on if Two-Face, Joker, or Hugo Strange are in control, Batman may encounter different foes and a change of aesthetic most likely inspired by its associated villain. Ginn didn’t confirm that some side-quests will be unplayable after certain points in time, but he did hint that certain game-changing events might be in store for Arkham City.
While it isn’t necessarily juicy gameplay details, these new pieces of information regarding Batman: Arkham City should help many gamers who were down on Asylum to find something to be excited about. Clearly not willing to rest on their laurels, Rocksteady is proving themselves to be a developer who listens to their audience and tries to address their issues accordingly.
How would you like to see Rocksteady balance out the use of detective mode? Do you think that boss battles that serve as climaxes to story beats are necessary for these Batman titles?
Batman: Arkham City releases October 18, 2011 for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
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