Back in black.
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Warner Bros. has officially unveiled the next chapter in the Arkham game series today, with Batman: Arkham Knight confirmed for the PC, Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4 for release sometime in 2014. Our first glimpse at the latest adventure of the Dark Knight came in the form of a trailer, and while it didn't feature gameplay, the trailer still contained a few tantalising hints about what we can expect. So we asked GameSpot's Batman-loving editors to put on their fancy Riddler question mark bowler hats and uncover whatever secrets or influences they could uncover in the announcement trailer.
Check out our original news piece here: Batman: Arkham Knight announced for PS4, Xbox One, PC.
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The Familiar and the New
"Given the way that the trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight starts with a heavily distorted voice threatening the citizens of Gotham, my immediate thought was that Rocksteady is leaning heavily on the Nolan films for influence, for this trailer if not for the game it represents. Since he threatens to unleash the citizens' "greatest fears," we can infer that the voice belongs to Scarecrow, not to Bane, but the nods to the Nolan films don't end there. The Batmobile we see in the trailer resembles the Tumbler of the Nolan films far more than it does the sleek Batmobile of the Burton films or other incarnations of the vehicle. The shaky-cam cinematography with which car chases and fistfights are framed, and the way that cars look like real-world cars, suggests to me that, like Nolan's Gotham, the Gotham of this game might try to feel less stylized and more realistic than the Gotham of the previous Arkham games."
"The ending of Arkham City left the criminal landscape of Gotham in a fascinating place. The Joker is seemingly out of the picture, but Harley Quinn is still out there, and as a discarded pregnancy test in Arkham City indicates, the Joker's legacy might literally be living on. In the vacuum left by the Joker's defeat, there would be plenty of opportunities for the city's remaining villains to capitalize on the situation, and indeed, the trailer paints a picture of a city at war, its citizens terrorized, its police essentially under siege. The downloadable add-on for Arkham City, Harley Quinn's Revenge, was disappointing, but did give us a sense that Bruce Wayne is in a dark place psychologically, that his battle with the Joker has left him shaken. I hope that Arkham Knight follows up on this and gives us a Batman who is struggling with his own demons as well as the criminal elements of the city."
"You can't make an Arkham game without the immensely satisfying combat and stealth elements that are the series' hallmark, but as Arkham Origins demonstrated, you can't just rely on those elements and expect it to be enough. Clearly, Rocksteady knows this, and are attempting to invigorate the series in this chapter with open-world driving elements. This gives me hope that the game might feel familiar in all the right ways without feeling overly familiar, like Origins did. I'm curious to see how Rocksteady is meshing the vehicular aspects with the wonderfully enjoyable ways you've gotten around the city in earlier games, grappling and soaring from rooftop to rooftop. If the developer can hold on to everything that was great about Arkham before and introduce these new elements in a way that doesn't interfere with what we all want and expect from an Arkham game, Arkham Knight could be something really special." -- Carolyn Petit
"I'm simultaneously excited and worried about this new Batman game after watching the trailer. How can I not be a little giddy at the thought of roaring through the streets of a massive Gotham City in my Batmobile? And since there's a car, doesn't it stand to reason that there might also be a flying Batplane hidden somewhere in the game?"
"But just like the Arkham series' amazing close-quarters combat, the earlier Batman games shined because they were so confined. Generally, the more a game opens up, the more empty and sparse it becomes (unless that game is Grand Theft Auto). And with a size that has to come close to the New York analogue in Grand Theft Auto IV, and a city that'll probably be under lockdown in order to keep you from exploring too far, will there be enough to explore to keep me excited, or will it just feel like a big obstacle that stands in the way of getting from Point A to Point B? The previous Arkham games felt like they were just at the limit of balancing how much game world I'd want to explore versus having interesting things I'd want to do. And driving the artistically aged streets of L.A. Noire was fun the first couple times, but it just became an auto-travel chore after the first few missions. Of course, the car in L.A. Noire wasn't equipped with rockets and a wide array of high-tech weaponry. Rocksteady has a crazy reputation to live up to, their own. But I'm mostly just excited that Batman is back in the hands of the studio that made me fall in love with Batman games in the first place." -- Justin Haywald
"Success in the video game industry means growth. When developer Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum descended upon our consoles back in 2009 it captured our hearts with its easy-to-play, fun-to-watch combat and Nolan-esque tone. Then Arkham City came along and went open world, and Arkham Origins after that introduced the series to asymmetrical multiplayer. So where does Arkham go from there? Rocksteady isn’t tipping their hand just yet--returning villains and a driveable Batmobile aside--but if you look to other open world games on next-gen hardware you might get some ideas."
I'm curious to see how Rocksteady is meshing the vehicular aspects with the wonderfully enjoyable ways you've gotten around the city in earlier games.Carolyn Petit
"Take Dead Rising 3 for example. It had a massive, vehicle-filled city as well where you could drive from end to end without hitting a load screen. I doubt mowing down hordes of zombies in the Batmobile is in the cards, but the developers could spice up the driving with street races or by chasing down fleeing criminals. On the other hand, the upcoming Watch Dogs makes interesting use of their companion app by letting players help, or hinder, you from their smartphones. The Arkham series already has Oracle serving as Batman’s backup, and it would be interesting to see her hacking abilities put in a player’s hands as a way of providing cooperative play." -- Maxwell McGee
What other sorts of inspirations do you think Rocksteady will draw upon for this next Arkham game? Share your best guess in the comments below.