The following interview was conducted at London’s MCM Expo Saturday May 23, 2009. It relates to this article, covering the hands-on demo. http://www.platformnation.com/2009/05/23/batman-arkham-asylum-demo-hands-on/
On hand were myself and Tony Atkins reporting for Gamehounds and Chris O Regan of All Games Radio’s Superhappyfuntimeshow. We spoke to Mike Oldman, Community Manager for Eidos Game Studios, about the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo.
GH: This is basically the most interesting thing we’ve seen all day. Why has Batman: Arkham Asylum been held back for release?
Eidos: We didn’t have a solid announcement regarding release date. It’s just a case of making sure it’s the best game possible. There’s nothing wrong with the game, and it’s nothing to do with Square [Enix, who recently acquired Eidos]. We’re looking at a late summer release, but the movement on this has been minimal.
SHFTS: It’s a good time to release, I think Bioshock was out around that time two years ago.
Eidos: Yeah you get that summer lull where games don’t generally come out. I think we’re in the middle of one right now.
SHFTS: Can you tell us what we’ve been playing here? It seems like a good, but quite short demo.
Eidos: This doesn’t show everything in the game by any means. It’s literally just a combat arena. It’s one of the separate modes that run alongside the story. It’s like a survival mode. You’ve got wave after wave of enemies you have to beat and get a high score and there will be leader-boards as well. They won’t just cover combat, there’s a range of modes like invisible predator and it’s basically a series of set challenges. All the skills you learn in the single-player game are transferable into this. The combat changes quite a lot once you’ve gone through the game.
GH: So it’s a progressive combat system and you’ll be learning new skills.
Eidos: That’s correct. I think there’s about twenty takedowns for Batman in the game so what you’re seeing here is just a bit of it. We also just announced the playing as the Joker content for PS3 only. There will be challenge rooms just for the Joker.
GH: I’m assuming we can’t ask if there will be any 360 exclusive content, maybe Killer Croc?
Eidos: (Smiles) No announcement at this point is the official word.
GH: There’s a twinkle in your eye.
Eidos: Wait and see.
SHFTS: One of the things I’ve found when I was playing the demo is that there seems to be a lot of automation in the moves. Like you only have to press a few buttons and he launches into a combo. How does that work? Is it like Assassin’s Creed?
Eidos: It really depends on who you watch playing. The skill of the player really does change the combat quite a bit. I’ve watched people playing today and you get some people only punching repeatedly and it always looks the same. But really it’s designed to be a sort of Tony Hawk style combo system. Once you’re getting seventeen-hit combos on the go it really changes the gameplay completely.
GH: So it’s not so much about the danger of actually dying as it is juggling combos.
Eidos: You have to think forwards as to which guy Batman goes for next so that he can go through a combo. You’re seeing basic thugs here, but later on you get guys with weapons which you have to deal with differently. You can’t punch a knife guy in the face, you have to stun him first. Guns become a big issue too.
GH: So you have to be tactical about who you take out first.
Eidos: Absolutely. One of the things we’ve been saying since day one is that Batman is not a superhero, he’s a guy in a suit with some nice gadgets. He’s a badass, yeah, but if you’re going to fire a bullet at him it’s going to do some damage. So the second someone gets a gun you need to take them down immediately.
GH: I was watching earlier and you actually go into a skeleton mode while fighting…
Eidos: Yes. That’s the invisible predator mode. It’s in every element of the game but it’s not specifically for combat. It’s used for the investigative and detective elements. The majority of the game as it plays out, you do not want to get spotted by enemies and you want to scare them. There’s a dynamic fear system throughout the game where if something happens to one of them in a shady area, they won’t go back to it. Predator mode allows you to see through walls, asses the enemies’ reactions, heart rates, see how they’re doing. You can mess with them.
GH: How easy is it to hide from enemies? I’m thinking of Tenchu and Metal Gear Solid here.
Eidos. Basically if they can see you they’ll come after you. They won’t forget you either. Environment plays a large part in things and it’s not too hard to get away with your grappling hook. His gadgets play a pretty big hand in that. Especially the batarang, which doesn’t get a look in on the demo.
GH: Purely as a gamer, promotion aside, what’s your favourite part of this game?
Eidos: My favourite part of the game, I can’t talk about.
GH and SHFTS: (Cries of disappointment)
Eidos: That’s sickening to say, I know but it is to be kept quiet. Aside from that is combat. The combat is quite excellent. You can interrupt anything at any point. The animation’s not locked, you can throw or counter at any point. Once you get a feel for that it really changes the way you play. And it’s brutal.
SHFTS: It’s dark, but it’s Batman.
Eidos: Yeah, but it surprised even me. You see a few sequences and hear the odd bit of dialogue and you think, he’s messed up. And Arkham’s not a nice place to be.
GH: We’re looking forward to it. A good superhero game, you don’t get that very often do you?
SHFTS: Superman 64?
GH: Mike, it’s been fantastic, thank you very much.
Eidos: It’s been a pleasure.