With its October 18 release date just days away, anticipation has never been hotter for Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Guinness World Record for best reviewed superhero video game ever. On hand to discuss the game with a packed auditorium of fans was Sefton Hill, the game director for Rocksteady Studios; Nick Arundel, Audio Director; Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria, who provided an original song for the game's soundtrack album; and longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, who was greeted like a king.
Given the copious amounts of news and information that's been released over the last several weeks, there's precious little to tease about Arkham City. With that in mind, the panelists discussed behind-the-scenes inspirations and treated the audience to a new launch trailer as well as a live demo of the game. You'd better believe we got that launch trailer, and you can check it out after the cut. We'll have the gameplay demo a little later, because it is basically too awesome for our technology to handle at the moment.
"We wanted to create the most authentic Batman game possible," Hill said of the development of Arkham Asylum, and added that the mission philosophy remained the same for Arkham City. The crucial difference, he said, was that Arkham City offered the designers the chance to do things they weren't able to fit into the previous game.
"The audience's response to the first game inspired the development of this one," Hill said, explaining that the same attention to detail and an overriding dedication to expressing Batman as properly as possible informed every decision. To that end, the production team remained fewer than 100 people, every gameplay, character and technology decision was rooted in the narrative devised by Paul Dini and Rocksteady, and was treated by everyone as a labor of love. Hill pointed out that unlike some licensed projects, working with DC Entertainment on Arkham City was a great help in creating the project.
The panelists confirmed that Arkham City is approximately five times the size of the last game and offers 30 hours of gameplay. Batman's moves have been doubled, as have the animated sequences and dialogue.
Asked about his thoughts on the story of Arkham City and the work of game writer Paul Dini, voice actor Conroy said he thought the critical element of Batman's success is the character's relationship to the audience. "Everything about Batman comes from the deep wounds he suffered as a child. He has two sides. The mask and the public face, and that's true for everyone." Conroy said Batman embodies that duality, and that his understanding of that dynamic is what makes Paul Dini one of the best Batman writers.
A huge Batman fan, Claudio Sanchez explained that his song, "Deranged," tried to emulate sound effects found in Batman stories. He said some instrumental parts invoke countdown clocks, the sound of a cape or even bats flying. In creating the track, Sanchez took all the released game footage and cut a trailer of his own.
Asked which Batman villains the panelists relate to most, Hill said the Riddler, because they'd enjoyed using the character so much in the game; Arundel said Two-Face; Sanchez said Calendar Man; and Conroy said the Joker, citing his long professional relationship with Joker voice actor Mark Hamill.
In response to a fan's question, Conroy joked that he enjoyed performing in video games more than animation because "cha-ching!", but made sure to say that he loves both mediums for different reasons.
One fan asked Conroy whether his 20-year tenure as the voice of Batman was due to his own enthusiasm for playing the part or because Warner Bros. was especially happy with his work. The actor said that while he loves the character, it was the audience's tremendous love for his work that is the real reason he's stayed so long. "Thank you very much," he said.
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