Back in 2009, gamers everywhere were lucky enough to be able to experience the definitive Batman gaming experience with Batman: Arkham Asylum from Rocksteady Games and DC Comics. This year fans are even luckier, as we’re getting a sequel in Batman Arkham City! I was lucky enough to interview Dax Ginn, Rocksteady’s Marketing Game Manager while I was at New York Comic Con last weekend! Without further adieu, here is the interview for your reading pleasure!
Jordamus Prime- So I’m here with Dax Ginn, Marketing Game Manager for Rocksteady Games, who are behind one of the hottest games of the year, Batman: Arkham City! Now Dax, this game is the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, which was one of the hottest games of 2009 and is definitively the best Batman game ever made! Arkham City looks to blow that game completely out of the water and a lot of people are really excited for it. So, I guess the question is, what would you say was the biggest inspiration for this game?
Dax Ginn- I’d say that the biggest inspiration for Arkham City was that feeling that we got when Batman fans and gamers were saying they wanted to get out of the Asylum and into Gotham itself! Arkham Asylum was very intense and atmospheric, but it’s off the mainland. It wasn’t Batman in his natural environment, so we wanted to take Batman onto the streets of Gotham, and that made all sorts of changes to the game and to the navigation and even the combat, so we really had to start over from the ground up.
JP- Great! So I know I’m being a little preferential here, but I love Robin, and I know a lot of people are really excited that you guys announced that he will be playable in the game, what made you guys reach the decision to make Robin playable, and will he available outside of the challenge maps and in the campaign?
DG- Unfortunately he is just in the challenge maps, but we’ve also just recently announced that Nightwing will also be playable! I feel like when we announced that it was going to be Tim Drake as Robin, people were kind of expecting us to throw Nightwing into the mix. In terms of playable characters in the main story, it’s just Batman and Catwoman. Playing as Batman, you feel like you’re the righteous arm of justice, and playing as Catwoman you get to be a thief within Arkham City. The reason why we chose the two of them is that they both feel really different when you play as them. Their genders and their bodies are just very different feeling, whereas if you’ve got Batman and Robin you feel kind of similar.
JP- I know this is a bit of a stretch because you guys are just wrapping up on Arkham City, but do you think there is any chance that we will be seeing some kind of co-op multiplayer mode in the campaign in further sequels?
DG- Man, I can’t wait for the future! It’s going to be awesome stuff! We’re just going to go to sleep now and wake up in the middle of November and just get started!
JP- So was co-op multiplayer looked into at all for Arkham City?
DG- Well we thought about it for Arkham City, and then after a bit of experimentation and some product tests we thought “You know what? Let’s just focus on making the most awesome Batman experience”. All of the risk for us came from building an open world game. We made a huge map that details the whole of Gotham!
JP- So we know from the trailers that we’ve got the Joker back from the last game, can we expect to see many more familiar faces from the last game?
DG- Yeah! Bane is in, Poison Ivy is in, and so is Harley Quinn, but we’ve also added a whole load of awesome new characters! We’ve got Two-Face, Hugo Strange, Solomon Grundy, Talia Al Ghul, it’s massive!
JP- Oh wow! I actually just heard about the addition of Solomon Grundy to the game! Can we expect to see any other non-Batman specific villains like Grundy in the game?
DG- No, I can’t really say that you’ll see too many more. In this game at least. At Rocksteady, we like to keep a few surprises! I know the Scarecrow stuff worked really well in Arkham Asylum…
JP- Is Scarecrow back this time around?
DG- I’m not able to say just yet, you’ll have to check out the game for yourself!
JP- Fair enough! Getting back to playable characters, I know that we’ve got Nightwing and Robin playable on the challenge maps. Can we expect to see any other playable characters to show up in the future via downloadable content?
DG- Well right now the only DLC we’re offering is Robin and Nightwing, but we’ve got some more announcements to make later.
JP- Awesome! I see that you guys have quite a few Arkham City toys on display here at New York Comic Con, are you guys heavily involved with the production process?
DG- Well working with DC and Warner, there are always sorts of things going on behind the scenes outside of Rocksteady, so it’s kind of cool to have it all here at Comic Con! You see stuff that you’ve kind of heard about, but never really seen before like the Titan-Joker figure over there, which looks awesome! We’re really stoked to see these characters that we’ve designed deployed like this as toys!
JP- Speaking of designs, I know there has been a little bit of an outcry here and there about some of the character redesigns in the game, what really goes into the process of recreating these characters?
DG- We work really closely with DC and everything we do is done with their blessing and guidance. We’re got a really collaborative relationship with them on every aspect of the game. The design is really all about what makes sense for these characters within the game that we’ve created. Arkham City itself is kind of this sprawling super-prison! It’s a dangerous place and it’s a hostile environment to be in, so everyone in there needs to be armed and ready for action! Whether people like the designs or not, I think everyone can understand how someone like Catwoman would dress like that in order to survive in a place like this.
JP- So what can you actually tell us about the story of Arkham City?
DG- I can tell you that it picks up about eighteen months after the end of Arkham Asylum. Quincy Sharp, who was the Warden at Arkham Asylum, is now elected to be Mayor of Gotham City! He had this whole crazy plan about shutting down Arkham Asylum and Blackgate prison and creating this kind of fortified wall within the center of Gotham! He appoints Hugo Strange as the Warden of Arkham City, and Hugo Strange knows Batman’s true identity! Strange controls everything that goes on in Arkham City, and Batman just knows he is in for disaster! He needs to go in there and take care of business!
JP- Now the last thing I want to address… there have been rumors going around about the possibility of a Batmobile level? Is there any truth to that?
DG- Nope! We put so much work into Batman’s glide and grapple, and everything we do we want to make sure it feels like Batman. If you put Batman in the Batmobile, it’ll just feel like a driving game! It’s not uniquely Batman and that isn’t what we wanted to do!
JP- A lot of people said that you guys re-invented the superhero game genre with Batman: Arkham Asylum; do you think you’ve re-invented it again with Arkham City?
DG- Definitely! Being honest, Arkham City is better than Arkham Asylum in every conceivable way! It’s great! I think the review scores that we’ve received over the past few days really reflect that!
Batman Arkham City is in stores now for the X-Box 360, Playstation 3 and PC! Buy your copy today!