Batman: Arkham City Will Be More Non-Linear: New Pics and Info

PlayStation Blog attended a private screening for Batman: Arkham City with Dax Ginn, marketing game manager at Rocksteady, demonstrating an early demo that lasted around 30 minutes. Dan answered some questions about what we’re going to be able to see in the game, and it’s sounding like the game is going to be bigger than ever.

When asked about the Scarecrow sequence in Batman: Arkham Asylum:

“Did you like the scarecrow stuff?” he replies to slow nods. “Well we did too. Aren’t you glad that you didn’t know about the Scarecrow levels before you played Arkham Asylum? If they had been part of the marketing campaign they wouldn’t have had that kind of impact, so I’m just going to leave it there.”

The biggest thing for this game is the city. In Arkham Asylum, you were following a very linear path, but in Arkham City, you can start off anywhere.

”Anything that is open to the sky is open to player right from the off,” Dax explains. “Nobody tells Batman where to go so it was important for us to give that freedom right at the start. The interiors are gated and will open as a result of narrative progression.”

The thing that made the Batman game cool was the fact that you can move around the area and explore in a non-linear way, but the storytelling was very linear. In Arkham City, it’s more of a mixed between the two.

“Our attitude towards pacing is to throw everything at the player straight away and let them decide how and when they want to navigate those options. Telling a story in Arkham Asylum was very easy because it was a very linear experience. Arkham City isn’t a sandbox game but it’s not completely linear either – it’s somewhere in-between.”

I love the idea of having an open Batman game, but not to the point where Batman does side missions that doesn’t really contribute to the main plot.

“What we don’t want to do was ruin the pacing with frivolous collection missions where you have to go and find 50 things while Gotham is burning – Batman wouldn’t do that. We have a tight core narrative with clear paths; going off-piste inevitably yields other options but they are always character driven, whether that’s answering a phonecall from Zsasz and having him taunt you or finding an informant who reveals another snippet of information.”

“If you’re just flying around the streets looking for a fight,” Dax adds, “you’ll pick up bits of information that have been designed to be communicated in an ambient fashion at that particular stage in the game. There is a vast amount of conversational dialogue that has been a serious job to write and record, but we finally finished it last Wednesday.”

I’d have to agree with fans out there about detective mode hindering the funfactor because for one thing, you really don’t get to see the beauty of the world around Batman and second, it made the game a lot easier.

“There weren’t a lot of criticisms of Arkham Asylum but that was one of them,” says Dax, “and thinking about why people reacted the way that they did and what we’re going to do about it was really interesting. Batman is a detective, so removing detective mode wasn’t an option for us because it suits him so well and it allows us to do these slower paced investigation sections.”

“Our thinking was more about why people responded to it in that way. Gamers wanted it to be more of a tool, just like the Bat Claw is a tool. We hadn’t balanced it right so it felt more like an exploit than a tool, because it gave you so much information. That’s our understanding of the criticisms and our response has been to balance that information better.”

When asked about interest in working with Christopher Nolan’s version, Dan says that it’d be cool, but ultimately in the end, it’s not in his best interest.

“He [Christopher Nolan] is a pretty amazing guy and that would be a brilliant lunchtime meeting to have, discussing how that might work. But what we find with the comic book license is that we get creative freedom to push the characters in pretty much any direction we like; we’re not bound to a single narrative. I’m not saying we’ll never make a game based on a movie, but as of right now and from a creative perspective, it’s not something we want to be doing.”

Batman: Arkham City comes out on October 18th in North America and October 21st in Europe for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Source: PlayStation Blog

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