NYCC 2011: Players push Arkham City to the Brink

A game news article

Fans are the key ingredient for the developers at Rocksteady in creating another next-gen Batman game. As the official sequel to 2009's mega-hit Arkham Asylum, Arkham City will be available for Xbox 360 and PS3 on October 18. After an amazing trailer of Batman slugging it out with a colossal number of super villains in the IGN Theater on Friday, game director Sefton Hill, audio director Nick Arundel, the longtime voice of Batman - Kevin Conroy (Arkham Asylum, Batman: The Animated Series), and Claudio Sanchez, frontman of progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria, contributes to the game's soundtrack, which is also currently available in stores.

"The fan anticipation is what kept us going," chimed Hill, "we just want [fans] to have that authentic Batman experience." Statistically speaking, he also claimed that the follow-up to the best reviewed superhero video game ever is five times the size of the previous game. It should take over 30 hours to take down all the villains in the game, an unprecedented stat for a superhero video game. The creative director also added that Batman will now have double the moves and double the animations. "[And double the] dialogue," joked Conroy.

If the original game's staff of 60 was significantly small for such a huge and successful hit, then the slightly smaller team of 100 for a game five times the duration is rather impressive. "We want to make this a passionate experience," Hill added. Panel moderator N'Gai Croal took a shot at EB Soft saying he wished that was the case for the overabundant amount of those working on Assassin's Creed, which I played and was none too impressed with (but that certainly has nothing to do with this story; only time will tell on AC's fourth game.)

Arkham City will still be handcrafted with delicate detail despite the action/adventure's bigger canvas. The open, free-roaming world of City didn't deter the creators from paying strict attention to detail. "[Arkham City] has to feel like Batman in the city." What did the Coheed & Cambria frontman want? "I wanted to see the Calendar Man," he said sternly to laughter as he later followed, "there's just something about dates and times…" As a comic book writer himself, Sanchez also said he loves the campaign and overall story.

Though longtime Batman writer Paul Dini couldn't make it to New York for Comic Con, Hill went on to boast about Rocksteady's working relationship with DC, calling it a "brilliant collaboration." Conroy agreed, but he heavily deferred to the working audience Batman has always had in his story, noting that there's an ongoing "connection and loyalty with Paul." He claimed that Dini knows everything about suffering as the Bat-child: "Batman is the manifested embodiment [of] wounded kids taking on the world. [Dini] just goes to the basic truth."

Involving the audience is clearly what pushes Arkham City further into the Batman mythology. And, perhaps above all else, fans are interested in the game's villains. Batman has arguably the largest, most respectable rogues' gallery in all of comics, so it was important the creators selected those who made the best fit for the game. The creators agreed that the inclusion of characters like Zsasz and Hugo Strange will feel "justified."

As iconic as the villains are to Batman, so is the sound. Arundel claimed that Batman's surveillance audio was the hardest to pull off, as players will need to use a Bat-scanner to hear the various thoughts and chatter throughout Arkham City. Theme songs and action effects will also play a very important role, as Batman and Joker themes only spar a one note difference and Catwoman's theme is spun upside down. "[I] planned that from the start," Arundel yarned. On their one day of recording, "we tried to steal what we could from the Warner lot." Croal then humorously referred to the "wa-chung" sound of Batman's sprawling cape as "the new planking."

Claudio Sanchez also tried to emulate iconic Batman effects into his theme song "Deranged," drawing out similarities between the "timebomb" guitar section and the fluttering trembling in the chorus to "bats." The song is about the duality between Batman and his longtime nemesis Joker, as well as "the lonely existence [he would have] if he lost to the rogues."

Some other panel notables:

-Nightwing will be later available as a downloadable character.

-Conroy enjoys doing voiceovers for animation and video game mediums evenly, though he didn't fail to mention the "cha-ching" involved working on such a marketable game as Arkham City.

-Mark Hamill, the voice of Joker (and, of course, Luke Skywalker), was notably absent, but only because he had autograph signings and his own panel later in the evening.

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