The Dark Knight (lost build of cancelled multi-platform action game based on Batman film; 2008)
The Dark Knight (also known as Batman: Dark Knight) is a cancelled action video game that was loosely based on the 2008 Christopher Nolan film of the same name.
It was unofficially announced in the summer of 2007 to be developed by Pandemic Studios as an open-world game. Due to countless production issues, the game ended up being cancelled, and has not surfaced in a playable state.
The game's existence was unofficially confirmed by actor Gary Oldman on July 17th, 2008. Oldman, who played the character Lt. Jim Gordon in the film, was set to reprise his role (very probably voice-only) in the game. In an interview, he mentioned that the game was "in the works" and that the developers were working hard to create a seamless action game. Oldman also said that a lot of effort went into getting Batman's gliding abilities to work fluidly and smoothly. He didn't mention release dates or publishers, but anonymous sources stated that the game was a secret project between Electronic Arts and Pandemic Studios and that it was to be released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Development was handed to Pandemic Brisbane but soon ran into problems as many of the senior developers had never worked on such a game. To begin with, when the staff began work on creating a Batman game, they were not informed until months into the project that they were supposed to be creating a tie-in for The Dark Knight. This led to them having to scrap most of what they had completed up to that point. Additionally, the game engine for The Saboteur was chosen, but was troublesome as it proved to not suit an open-world game.
Regardless, development continued but engine updates only made the game worse. The addition of an HDR lighting solution that took seven months to implement, for instance, caused the game's framerate to slow down to five frames per second and crash the development hardware within minutes of loading. Level design tools weren't made available until seven months in development and management was making decisions behind the lead developers' backs which were later reversed once the kits were ready to use.
Pandemic brought more people in, mostly through private contractors, to help finish the game, but it was clear that it wouldn't be completed in time to coincide with the film's release in July. The decision was made to push the release date back to December to be launched along with the DVD release of the film. By September, alpha testing was supposed to begin, but the game was in very bad shape and it was clear that it wouldn't make the December deadline. In the end, the game was cancelled and roughly twenty employees were let go in the aftermath.
Pandemic Studios Brisbane was shut down in February 2009, along with Pandemic Studios Los Angeles in November.
The cancellation led to The Dark Knight being the only Batman film to never be given a video game adaptation. A Newsweek article mentioned that the lack of a tie-in game may have caused an estimated $101 million in missed revenue. Despite its troubled development, very little is known about the gameplay itself. Screenshots of in-game environments were leaked in January 2009, but no playable prototypes or gameplay videos have surfaced since then.
Due to the closure of the studio, it's possible that the remains of the game are either left completely abandoned or destroyed. Eventually, in 2009, an open-world Batman title would be released, as Batman: Arkham Asylum, developed by Rocksteady Studios.
- G4TV article on leaked info from the game (courtesy of the Wayback Machine). Retrieved 03 Oct '16
- Escapist Magazine's article on the game's troubled production. Retrieved 03 Oct '16