Once, Jamie Walker and Sefton Hill were part of Argonaut Games until it succumbed to bankruptcy. This twist of fate led the pair to Eidos Interactive, where they contributed to the creation of Urban Chaos: Riot Response. It was during this time that they took a giant leap, founding Rocksteady, a British game development studio which came into existence under the wing of Eidos and was later embraced by Warner Bros. Fast forward to 2022, and both Walker and Hill exited Rocksteady, just a couple of years shy of the release of their greatly anticipated game for the PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. As Rocksteady celebrates its 20th anniversary, it’s a perfect moment to stroll down memory lane and revisit the lineup of games they’ve brought to life.
### The Origins with Urban Chaos: Riot Response
Rocksteady’s early days, recounted on their website, were quite humble. Their inaugural title, Urban Chaos: Riot Response, was partly developed at another studio before it closed. Despite the setback, the founders mustered resources from another publisher. The team found themselves in a makeshift office, working with second-hand equipment. Nonetheless, they swiftly found their footing, and in 2006, Urban Chaos was launched—a first-person shooter where you embody Nick Mason. Part of a unit known as T-Zero, Nick is tasked with defending the civilians from a violent gang. The city is a crucible of disorder, and Nick’s mission is to ensure the safety of civilians, police, doctors, and firefighters. Sadly, the game, released on PS2 and Xbox, lacks backward compatibility, meaning it cannot be revisited on the newer Xbox consoles.
### Batman: Arkham Asylum—The Birth of a Legend
Rocksteady truly left their mark with Batman: Arkham Asylum, featuring Bruce Wayne, known to all as Batman. This game is often celebrated as the best of all Batman gaming experiences, providing players with a thrilling blend of solid gameplay mechanics, a compelling story, and a dark, oppressive setting. Arkham Asylum shifted gears from Urban Chaos, opting for a third-person adventure that emphasizes exploration, combat, and gadgetry. The game’s setting—a crazed asylum teeming with dangerous lunatics—creates intense challenges for Batman, reflecting his detective skills in the gameplay. The combat system, while straightforward, is immensely rewarding, and players can choose stealth tactics when prudent. The release of Batman: Arkham Asylum on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC happened in 2009, laying the groundwork for a legendary franchise.
### Batman: Arkham City Expands to Gotham
Gotham City—infested with crime and corruption and barely held in check by its flawed police force—needs the Dark Knight more than ever in Batman: Arkham City. The sequel to Arkham Asylum expands into an open-world experience, meaning players could immerse themselves more deeply into the atmospheric city. Bruce Wayne, captured by mercenaries early in the game, breaks free and dons the Batman suit once more, to confront a Joker plunged into madness. Launched originally on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2012, Arkham City built on its predecessor’s mechanical base while offering players more freedom in an expansive urban playground.
### Batman: Arkham Knight—A Grand Finale
The Arkham trilogy concluded with Batman: Arkham Knight, landing on the PS4 and Xbox One, the new generation of consoles at the time. Despite a disastrous initial PC release, the game was refined over time. Arkham Knight showcased a visibly enhanced technical prowess and a larger scale than previous installments. One new and polarizing addition was the Batmobile, enabling fast-paced travel and action sequences. Rocksteady also developed Batman’s gliding abilities, introduced novel gadgets, and refined the established formula. Arkham Knight, released in 2015, to some, seemed a tad conservative, not quite delivering a revolutionary leap for the series despite the new generation’s capabilities.
### Batman: Arkham VR—A Foray into Virtual Reality
As with any emerging technology, virtual reality’s advent in gaming saw developers experimenting, and Rocksteady was no exception. Batman: Arkham VR was created in under a year as an exploratory project for a new Unreal Engine 4 development line. This brief but intriguing title gave players the chance to delve into Batman’s psyche like never before. Initially available on PSVR and later on PC, Batman: Arkham VR is Rocksteady’s only VR title to date.
### Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League—The Future Awaits
After a lengthy silence filled with speculation, Rocksteady revealed their latest project: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The game has sparked debate, particularly over the decision to make it a service-based game, continually updated with new content. Known for their single-player experiences, the studio’s new direction has raised more than a few eyebrows. Still, the game promises a narrative-rich adventure with engaging cutscenes and dialogues, and gameplay that features smooth character movements and a wealth of weaponry. It remains to be seen whether Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will captivate the gaming community when it launches on February 2, escaping the specter of comparisons to other superhero games like Marvel’s Avengers.
As Rocksteady looks toward the next chapter in their story, players have the early access opportunity to dive into Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, provided they’ve secured the special edition. The full release is just around the corner, and many are eager to see where this studio, with its storied history, will take us next.