Bringing a franchise like Batman to the world of gaming asks a lot of a developer. Where the likes of Bethesda can craft a universe from scratch, you've got to tease yours, bit by bit, from the paws of deeply suspicious legal teams, assembling those bits under continual outside scrutiny. The sheer breadth and depth of the source material can be a burden, burying your attempts at clean design beneath mountains of incomprehensible lore-gobbets. Scenting a quick kill off the back of an established license, publishers will pressure you to knock the game out at speed.
Troublesome waters... but waters Rocksteady has navigated with apparent ease. When it comes to handling an established fiction, the Arkham Asylum studio is second to none, a few concerns over the forthcoming Batman: Arkham City notwithstanding. Such deftness deserves to be put to the test elsewhere. Here are a few story-rich franchises that might benefit from Rocksteady's hand at the wheel. (Yes, we're cheerfully discounting any and all problems of IP ownership - we didn't get jobs writing about computer games so we could pay overmuch attention to the real world.)
Legacy of Kain
Thought Ed was mad on Mirror's Edge? His enthusiasm for DICE's parkour sim pales alongside his desperation to re-tread the realm of Nosgoth, whether in the shoes of soul-ravening wraith Raziel or his vampiric mentor turned tormentor Kain. The Legacy of Kain series is a classic case of backstory-creep, with enough loose threads to keep an army of cats occupied till Armageddon. It's also a series with increasingly limp combat and exploration mechanics, for all the intelligence and ambition we encountered in PS1 reboot Soul Reaver. Crystal Dynamics doesn't seem fussed anymore, Rocksteady. They've got bigger fish to fry.
However fluttery his cape and crisp his curled forelock, the Man of Steel has never (wait for it) taken off as a videogame hero. In large part that seems to be inevitable - strong enough to backhand a comet, and fast enough to reverse time itself when he circles the Earth, Superman is just a teensy bit overpowered. Just a tad. Rocksteady's Paul Dini has expressed an interest in the license, drawn to both the blue-eyed wonder's capabilities and to his not-much-publicised inner struggles. Here are those struggles in a nutshell: Superman has nothing in common with the people he safeguards besides appearance, so why does he stick around? Why not zip off to the Horsehead Nebula and amuse himself playing snooker with planetoids? We'd suggest writing an origin story (preferably not comparable to simpering angst-fest Smallville) in which young Mr Kent gets to grips with both his own powers and the role of humanity's protector.
Beyond Good & Evil
Yeah, yeah, Ubisoft - we know you haven't abandoned the franchise, but you're not exactly hurrying to restore intrepid photojournalist Jade to our screens. Time to give somebody else a turn, perhaps? Oft lamented wherever last gen junkies gather together, the Xbox classic is, now we dwell on it, surprisingly comparable to Arkham Asylum. It too blends an open world feel with linear levels, it too has pattern-based boss battles, and it too leans on that classic triple act: stealth, combat and platforming. Arkham Asylum's Riddler Trophies sort of echo that camera mini-game, and there's the same Zelda-style progressive unlocking of new gadgets and gizmos (coupled with the tantalising sight of areas you can't reach yet early in each game). Help, the parallels are beginning to overwhelm us. It's a veritable avalanche of lateral thought. FLEE.