It's hard to believe, but developer Rocksteady Games has produced just four games since its inception. And that includes the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight.
Yet thanks to the Arkham games, Rocksteady has established itself as a triple-A developer. The UK-based studio can pretty much write its own check for whatever it wants to do next. With Arkham Knight known to be Rocksteady's final entry in the saga (don't worry, other studios will continue the franchise), conversation must inevitably turn to what the developer might do next.
In all likelihood, Rocksteady may be ready for a break from superheroes and pre-established franchises, and will dream up an original IP of its own. If that's the case, you can be assured that it will be incredible, and we'll be first in line to buy it on the release date.
But we can't help wondering what it would be like to apply Rocksteady's unique qualities to other franchises. What does Rocksteady do best? Its games are characterized by stylized action, gorgeous visuals and three-dimensional characters. The developer shoots for a realistic tone and vibe, but knows when to set realism aside in favor of what's cool, what's amazing and what's just plain fun to play.
What would it look like if Rocksteady applied its technique to other franchises? We'd love to find out with any or all of the following five properties. Let's count them down:
5. James Bond
Rocksteady made Batman work as a video game character by heightening the aspects of him it needed while giving everything else a lower priority. Martial arts, gadgets, detective skills, a take-no-prisoners attitude — these are the things about Batman that Rocksteady emphasized. And it worked beautifully.
Why not do the same for Bond, taking what's already there — but making it more awesome than ever? Instead of a dark, corruption-filled city, you'd have globe-trotting locales, thrilling car chases, and best of all: gunplay. Batman doesn't use guns, so seeing Rocksteady's take on gun fighting would be insanely cool.
This has huge potential written all over it, but not for the reasons you think. The Ahnuld-style Terminator is a slow, lumbering, heavy, unstoppable machine — a tank on legs. While we firmly believe Rocksteady could make even that cool, we're imagining a game where you get to play as a T-1000 instead. The liquid metal Terminator was a spry cat, an unstoppable prototype that could adapt to any situation and any kind of attack.
Imagine — you infiltrate a building, melt into the walls or floors instantly when someone approaches, take on the likeness of an enemy guard to get past secure barriers, pick up a weapon to use as needed or create a dagger on the fly and whip it at a bad guy. And all of this, in fluid motions that chain instantly from one action to the next. Make the protagonist a time-traveling, reprogrammed Terminator who's fighting for the rebels, and we're good to go.
3. The Matrix
A handful of games are based on the groundbreaking cyberspace franchise, but there was only so much that could be done with the technology at the time. Put the power of modern computers or new-gen consoles to work on a new character, freed from movie continuity.
Maybe it's time for a new "One" to appear, and this one can do everything Neo could — and more. Combine the physics-defying possibilities inside the Matrix with world-class storytelling and Rocksteady's sensibilities, and you'd have a killer game that could return The Matrix to its former glory.
Run a search for "Rocksteady next game" or "Rocksteady should make" and the Man of Steel comes up in almost every search result. And for good reason. The developer has proven its mastery of superheroics with the Batman games, so hey, let's give it the biggest DC hero of them all.
Until Arkham Asylum, no one had ever made a good Batman game. The character was almost considered cursed by developers. Superman is now in a similar position. Many developers have tried, and so many games have been cancelled — like the one above, intended for the PS3/Xbox 360 generation, which provides a decent approximation of what a Rocksteady Superman game might be like.
Come on, DC. It's time for a good Superman game. Rocksteady has let us live out our Dark Knight fantasies and then some. It's time for Supes to get the same respect.
And the number one franchise we want Rocksteady to take on is...
1. Jedi Knight
Back in the day, the Jedi Knight games were the coolest thing on the block. They got better with each iteration, and truly gave players the power of the Force — allowing us to feel what it's like to weild a lightsaber with skill. What it never really had was style. The Force Unleashed was an attempt at imbuing style into the formula, and while it had some great setpiece moments, it never quite achieved that level of "awesome" fans craved. (And the less said about its sequel, the better.)
Free-flowing lightsaber combat in which swordplay and command of the Force function as one, with fluid motions and jaw-dropping flare. Is that too much to ask? Let's move on from Kyle Katarn. Give us a brand-new protagonist in a fresh time period where anything can happen. Write a compelling story with characters we care about. And don't be afraid to go dark with the tone.
It'll never happen — EA has the Star Wars game license and Rocksteady works with Warner Bros. But we can dream.
Related: The 10 Best Mortal Kombat Fatalities