Batman Arkham City Interview with Animator Adam Vincent

Originally Published: 2011

GAMERTRON: So, Adam, with Arkham City fast approaching, are you proud of it?

AV: Yeah, really proud of it. I think we’ve made a masterpiece here. We’ve spent many long nights on it over the last two and a half years and we’re all really hyped about the release.

GAMERTRON: The Eurogamer Expo demo gives players the chance to play as Catwoman and she will be playable for about 10% of the game, is that right?

AV: Yeah, she’s got about 10% of the main story and she’s also available in the challenge rooms, both in the combat rooms and the silent predator rooms, and she’s got quite a unique fighting style.

GAMERTRON: Was it always the plan to have Catwoman in the game, or was it more of a response to fan outcry for her to appear?

AV: The thing is that every single fan always wants to have their favourite character in the game, but obviously we can’t put everyone in there – we’ve got to cut it somewhere. We’ve already announced a lot of characters for the game, and there’s more that we’re not going to talk about, but Catwoman was a natural decision for us to decide ‘how else can we introduce a new character that will be quite unique?’ Her combat system is very unique; she’s got her own gadgets, she’s got a whip as the weapon she uses, so by introducing her to the game we could go down a different route and it marries up nicely with Batman.

GAMERTRON: Obviously the tone of Arkham Asylum was very claustrophobic and really panic-stricken, and with a larger open area it might be quite difficult to get that same kind of tone this time. Is there a different tone to Arkham City or have you guys done a lot to keep it similar to Arkham Asylum?

AV: An interesting point about the claustrophobic tone of the game is that when you’re on street level looking up, the city of Gotham does really tower over you. These are really gothic looking buildings, they’re quite oppressive, and we spent a lot of time on the art of the game trying to make it really feel like a dirty and gritty part of Gotham, so the tone’s still in there.

On top of that you’ve got not just the pressure from Joker, but also Two Face and Penguin vying for control of different areas in this massive city and you can’t escape it, which gives another element of claustrophobia.

GAMERTRON: On the subject of the game’s villains; as well as the main ones you’ve got quite a lot of secondary villains in the game, so who was the most fun to design?

AV: Personally, I animated Solomon Grundy and he was an interesting one because I didn’t know much about him before and I think that’s true for quite a lot of people, as they just know him from the nursery rhyme. I spent a lot of time animating him and he’s this massive un-dead creature, so it was cool to animate something that is quite different from what you might expect in the Batman universe.

GAMERTRON: The trailers that Rocksteady released have shown off great aspects of the characters to enhance the notion that story is really important in this game. Was it important to create these cinematic trailers, especially with the upcoming Christopher Nolan film on its way?

AV: We really wanted to sell the game and, to be honest, you don’t have to show too much of the characters to really get what they are about. All of these characters have such long histories – you can show Two Face or you can show Catwoman and it already sells some part of the story. It’s intriguing for people as they see some part of the story and they want to know how it works out in the game, how Batman meets these characters and how it all ties in.

GAMERTRON: In Arkham Asylum we had the Riddler challenges which involved finding trophies and hidden areas in the environment, but this time he’s more story orientated and we get to have more interaction with him. How is this going to work in the game?

AV: One thing we’re promising players is the chance to get your hands round the neck of the Riddler, which I think is something people have wanted to do for a while. You’ve not only got the trophies, of which there’s about 400, but you’ve got these Riddler hostage rooms and you’ve got to use a mixture of brains, brawn and your gadgetry in these rooms to save the hostages.

GAMERTRON: As well as the Catwoman challenge rooms, we’ve also got Robin available too, how are these going to work?

AV: Robin’s got his own unique combat system as well and he’s also got his own gadgets. His challenge rooms, combat and predator, also have their own maps which can be played through with Batman and Catwoman too. His combat feels very different to Batman’s.

GAMERTRON: The game’s obviously going to be quite considerably longer than the previous one, so roughly how long is the campaign going to be?

AV: The main storyline, depending on how quick you are, is about 15+ hours. If you do any of the side story then you’re taking 20+ hours and if you want to do 100% of the game then you’re talking 40+ hours. 100% completion is all the 400 Riddler trophies, all the side missions and then you can do ‘New Game +’ where you can go back and do the same challenge again with the difficulty really ramped up.

In ‘New Game +’ there’s no counter icons and the combinations of thugs are more difficult from the get go, but you do get to start with all the gadgets and XP you unlocked in the previous playthrough, so it’s a nice challenge. And, of course, on top of that you have the combat rooms with the ability to post scores on online leaderboards so you can challenge your friends.

GAMERTRON: Looking into the future, are there any plans for DLC? Will we see any new villains brought into the game or will we see a continuation of this story?

AV: At the moment we’re totally focused on the main game. We’re so close to finishing it and once we have, we’ll take a few months break as we’re all gagging for a rest! Once we come back I’m sure there’ll be talks but for the meantime it’s all about Batman.

Alex Aldridge

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