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Sometimes, when time is tight, or the event is a bit larger than life, you can’t always get that important one-on-one time you need with a developer to really take a deep dive into their game. Under these circumstances, journalists are bunched together, and several of us at a time have to machine gun fire questions. That happened this past weekend at San Diego ComicCon, when just a couple hours before Friday’s Injustice 2 panel, a couple dozen other journalists and I met with some of the voice cast and NetherRealm Studios’ creative director Ed Boon to chat about the game. Here are the choicest things each person had to say.

Superman1160

George, can you tell us a little bit about Superman in Injustice 2?

George Newbern, voice of Superman
Well, the first game ended with him in that [red light prison]. In terms of where Superman is in this story, there’s a lot more shades of gray going on this time around. Superman’s not in charge, and it’s not as simple as Superman is good and Batman is bad or vice versa. Depending on what is going on, you’ll side with one or the other and there’s a lot more gray this time, I think.

Laura, you’re playing Supergirl in Injustice 2, but you’re also Catwoman in Telltale’s Batman. What’s it like to hop between these two DC characters in these two very different games?

Laura Bailey, voice of Supergirl
They are such completely different characters. Supergirl is pure. She’s young and impressionable, and when she comes into this story, she’s learning about everything that is happening and has happened. Selina is old hat—she’s been doing this for years. She’s playing everyone, and is always in charge of the situation she’s in. So yeah, the [vocal] range might be similar, but the approach to all the dialogue is very different.

Aquaman1160

Phil, Aquaman has for a long time never been taken very seriously in the DC Universe, but the first Injustice game and your portrayal helped the character turn a corner, lending him some credibility. How was it to be part of that, and what was your inspiration?

Phil LaMarr, voice of Aquaman
For me, it’s about the writing. [NetherRealm] has come up with a really cool take on the character—that’s the thing. For so many years, you had this character that is ostensibly one of the most powerful heroes, but who just wasn’t cool. And they finally figured it out. He’s the ocean personified, but he is also a man. And also, I think, for me, the hook is the kingliness. He is a ruler. He has power, but he also has responsibility, and for him it’s always about that. Either personal responsibility, or to the people of Atlantis, and I think the battle stuff of Injustice is what really put him over the top. Because you had the character conception, but then you have the trident, and the power of Poseidon, and the baddest kill move ever. And if you have great writing, it almost acts itself really. I just have to make sure I get all the words right.

Ed, what was the inspiration for the armor system in Injustice 2 and how will that change gameplay?

Ed Boon, creative director of NetherRealm Studios
If you look back at Mortal Kombat X, we had three variations of every character, and that’s for players to choose what’s their favorite version of Raiden, their favorite version of Scorpion. It’s a little more personalization in it for each player, and we wanted to take that even further. So, in Injustice 2, here are a bunch of different costume pieces. You arrange them as you want, and they power up your characters in different ways. Some might increase offense, or defense, or special abilities, the damage they do with interactive objects, etc. And you piece together a costume to make your custom version of Batman, Superman, Aquaman, whoever. And you’re in a constant process of rearranging those pieces, finding better boots that increase your damage even more for example. So that continued customization and personalization of characters really kind of separates this one from our previous games.

Atrocitus1160

George, Superman is traditionally the All-American Boy Scout and we only see deviation from that in these Elseworld-like takes. Do you enjoy these alternate Superman roles a bit more because they allow for more nuances?

George Newbern, voice of Superman
Yeah, I think so, and I love that. I’m working on a TV show right now called Scandel on ABC where I play an assassin. Just a normal guy doing these terrible things, and you don’t suspect it. In the same way, Superman is most fun when you get to go a little bit outside of the cut, square corners. It’s more fun.

Laura, you’re also in Gears of War 4 this fall, and mentioned during that panel how you and the cast recorded together for some scenes, which is more of an animation style. You also recorded with the cast for Telltale’s Batman. However, you recorded solo for Injustice 2. Do you think video games will start moving more towards that animation style or that it just depends on the project?

Laura Bailey, voice of Supergirl
It’ll depend on the project. Video games by nature are very different from animation because of the option of dialogue there. So, the recording process can be strange, and even harder with other people because for so long it revolves around what one player is doing. So, it would probably be a waste of money for companies to bring in multiple people for a session. So, it’s never completely inclusive. Even for Gears of War 4, when I did my battle dialogue that was a solo session because Liam [McIntyre] or Eugene [Byrd] didn’t need to sit there while I screamed for a couple hours at a time. But definitely for the cinematics, I think a lot of games will start doing groups, and so many projects I’m doing now have motion capture and I feel like more and more projects will start going towards that because what you can do with that is so epic.

Supergirl1160

Phil, how hard is it to jump into the middle of a fight, but not have anyone actually there to play off of?

Phil LaMarr, voice of Aquaman
It helps to be a video game player, because you understand, for example, when your line might be right before you attack, to give it that oomph. But yeah, it’s tough sometimes, because you don’t know exactly what the context is. The other side of it is, though, if you do enough different lines, enough different versions of it, then they can fix it in editing. I’ll give you everything I got, and you put it in the right place…so we don’t end up with Resident Evil 2.

Ed, how will the armor and customization affect balancing for competitive play and tournaments in the game?

Ed Boon, creative director of NetherRealm Studios
Well, it makes our balancing task way bigger. Also, there’s the possibility of a player who has been leveling up a character since day one, and then another who picks the game up three months later, and how does the newcomer compete with the day one purchaser? So, our matchmaking is also going to be critical to make sure people who are in the same range are matched. And then, just our job of balancing is going to be a huge challenge. But the experience of constantly changing and molding your personal character, the novelty of playing with your character will always make it feel new as opposed to playing with the same character over and over again eight months after buying the game.

The DC Comics booth was abuzz as always at this year’s San Diego ComicCon, as demos of Batman: Arkham Origins and other DC-inspired videogames were available for the first time to the public. While everyone else was playing, I had a chance to catch a quick tutorial from Jim Lee on how to draw Aquaman, and found out how much he hates drawing scaled armor. But then I headed back to the movie costume displays and met briefly with Warner Bros. Montreal senior producer Ben Mattes to talk about some of the work going on with Batman: Arkham Origins.

EGM: What made you want to include a small-time villain like Copperhead in Batman: Arkham Origins, and what inspired the character’s drastic redesign?

Ben Mattes: I tell this story differently than Eric [Holmes, Arkham Origins’ Creative Director], but I remember the meeting where we decided to go for it. We had a big bulletin board up with a lot of different assassins on it. First and foremost, we had the assassin angle. So we were looking at KGBeast, we were looking at Firefly, we were looking at Lady Shiva, we were looking at Copperhead. All these different characters. Anyone who might’ve, sort of had the word assassin in their history. And then we were looking for elements that would match different components of gameplay. So we were saying “this one would make a good challenge for freeflow combat” and “this one would be a good option because it could challenge your navigation” or whatever the case may be.

So as we were looking at the board, we realized we didn’t have a ton of women on our roster and that was frustrating and disappointing for a variety of reasons. And Ames Kirshen, who is the vice president of production for all DC properties at Warner Bros. Interactive, kind of likes the idea of the Copperhead character, and likes the idea of this acrobatic, contortionist character. And there was this merging, this alignment of the stars, where we said we have an idea of what the gameplay could be with this character. We’ve got an interesting angle in terms of this being an assassin, but we’re looking for more females, let’s pitch the idea of a refresh, a rebranding, of the Copperhead character and make it a visually appealing female character.

At first Ames and DC were a little hesitant. They weren’t against it, but they needed some convincing. And so working with our character concept team, we put together a few compelling character pieces that showed how visually appealing this character could be with her claws and her tattoos and her costume. And while doing this, we’re describing the image we have of her being a dangerously seductive contortionist, and that was a cool image that everyone could see in their heads. Imagine her wrapping herself around Batman and using her claws to attack and poison him. It was a pleasing image we all thought would be cool.

Once that happened, we got [DC Comics’ chief creative officer] Geoff Johns on board, and then the rest was just implementation. And as we revealed at the San Diego ComicCon panel, the motion capture of her was probably the point where everyone looked back and said, “See, I knew it would work!” We all thought it would be cool, but then we got these three really talented actresses and we hodgepodged together their MoCap, glued it all together to create the Copperhead experience in the cinematics we’ve shown, and that’s really when it clicked.

And then to have Geoff Johns talk about it at the panel and give credibility to the character by saying she’s going to become canon, she’s going to become a character you’re going to see in the New 52, is really validating, and shows the working relationship between us and DC—which has been great—but it also shows the importance of videogames as a medium in the overall DC space. The Arkham games sell. They get millions of eyes on them. And so they’re becoming increasingly powerful and important just as a platform to influence the canon of this character, which is very rewarding and exciting for us.

EGM: You mentioned the New 52 and how the Arkham games are now influencing that. The New 52 is very young, and the Arkhamverse is in its infancy as well. Because of its freshness, are you guys tempted to reach for Batman’s newer history, as it might have a more viable audience, or do you like staying rooted in Batman’s lengthy pre-New 52 history? 

BM: Generally speaking, everything is on the table. We are more influenced by the older comics for sure in regards to references and inspiration and try to steer clear mostly just of the movies, TV Shows, and other media. What’s more important than if our inspiration is from old or new comic material, is if it makes sense to the Arkhamverse, because it is young and it is its own unique branch of the DC timeline.

Hypothetically, let’s stick The Court of Owls into the Arkhamverse. We go back then and ask if that makes sense, especially since Origins is Year Two and very clearly Court of Owls isn’t Year Two, so there are some things where the chronology of our story dictates who we can and can’t have in it. But in regards to what books or authors or anything—it’s all available. We just have to make sure it stays consistent. And that’s not necessarily a DC mandate. I mean, they appreciate that we hold ourselves to that even before we put options in front of them, but we want to make sure that we are building a cohesive, coherent universe first and foremost. Because first of all, we’re huge fans and that’s the world we want to play in, and we don’t want to create an experience where the fourth wall is broken for those extra hardcore fans who find inconsistencies and lose that sense of immersion because there’s something about our narrative that breaks and fractures their sense of understanding in the universe.

EGM: How hard is it to keep that consistency with a prequel, though? You have a lot of new villains and gadgets that weren’t around in the first two games.

BM: You know, it’s really not that hard if you put gameplay first. We’re not ashamed of it. We’re proud of it. We didn’t sit there thinking that we needed to create an awesome gadget, but it needs to be technologically inferior to Arkham Asylum and so we need to limit him. That’s not how you make an exciting game. We wanted to make a game that felt like an upgrade over the previous two games in as far as Batman’s capabilities, even though this is chronologically taking place before Arkham Asylum. As a player, do you accept that the chronology means Batman should miss some punches, the Batclaw cable should snap once in a while, and the Batarangs shouldn’t fly as far? It would be frustrating instead of an empowering experience.

Luckily, though, there is a very well-established component of the canon that makes it all moot. Batman never leaves the Batcave with everything. It’s part of the character. He has different outfits, different gear, different vehicles, different versions of weapons, different versions of gadgets, different suits, and it’s always been accepted that based on the different challenges he may face, Batman will use some subset of his arsenal to use in that encounter, and so we’re just staying consistent, really, with that part of the canon. In Arkham Origins, Batman finds a need for the remote claw, and so narratively we can still be consistent. It’s just part of who he is.

EGM: Well, as long as he never brings out the Bat-Shark Repellant again, I think we’ll all be okay with that. So, you have a new Joker voiced by Troy Baker and a new Batman voiced Roger Craig Smith. Besides the fact these are younger versions of the characters, what made you want to change the actors and what went into choosing the new actors?

BM: Really, younger is it. That was the main reason behind the decision to change voice actors.  It’s not that we don’t love Mark [Hamill]. It was simply the fact that we needed a voice actor who could sound like he was the Joker, but seven years younger from where Mark typically played him.

And everyone acknowledged that need. We are an early career story. We needed our voice actors to be younger men who have younger sounding voices, but who can still very much play the characters the way that Mark and Kevin would’ve played them. We didn’t want Troy to re-invent the wheel and come up with an all-new Joker. We wanted him to the deliver us the Joker who becomes the character played by Mark Hamill in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.

So what went into the casting was listening and auditioning tons and tons of some of the best male voice actors in videogames for that angle. And trying to make sure we found partners who understood and embraced that, and saw that as a huge opportunity rather than a restriction or a confinement or some sort of limiting factor. And both Troy and Roger immediately keyed into that in their auditions. You could actively hear them trying to do their versions of the vocal mannerisms of Mark. And it became quite evident to us early on in the process that these were our actors—not just because they could deliver the voices, but because they embraced the challenge so wholeheartedly and are so respectful of the giants whose shoulders they were asked to stand upon, which is exactly what we were looking for.

EGM Game Over Podcast 005: The Dork Knight Rises

The EGM crew brings you the Game Over Podcast, our end-of-the-week conversation where we discuss some of the biggest recent events in gaming.

[Hosts] Brandon Justice, Andrew Fitch, Ray Carsillo, Josh Harmon, and Eric L. Patterson
[Date] July 20th, 2012

[News] The problem with patching Fez, EA accidentally announces Battlefield 4, you’ll be playing Borderlands 2’s campaign for 58 hours, Deadpool becomes the newest gaming protagonist, and a new website helps you shag gamers.

[EGM Reviews] NCAA 13, Heroes of Ruin, Rhythm Thief & The Emporer’s Treasure
[Bargain of the Week] Mass Effect 3 & Final Fantasy XIII-2

Want to send feedback to the show? Drop us a line on Twitter: @EGMLogin

[Subscribe via iTunes] http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/egm-radio/id538629924
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Lucky there’s a family guy!

Note: Some language used may seem offensive, but it comes directly from the game and TV show and should be taken in context of such. 

When we first learned that we would be getting a full-fledged Family Guy game for consoles, all us fans of the hit animated sitcom jumped for joy. And when we learned it would revolve around the idea of Brian and Stewie bouncing around parallel dimensions once again like the classic Season 8 episode that introduced the Multiverse, we were ready to crack open a Pawtucket Patriot Ale and start playing.

Obviously, we’re still a couple months away from release though, so you can imagine how we’ve been chomping at the bit to see more of this game, especially after our brief view of the Amish level at E3 only whetted our appetites. So, when given the chance to hop on the Family Guy bus at San Diego ComicCon to see another new dimension, how could we refuse?

The level we saw, the third of the game’s ten dimensions the game will ship with, is a world where cripples are in charge. Every parking spot is handicapped, all sidewalks have ramps, and everyone rides the short bus (which also happens to spawn enemies from). And of course, Joe Swanson is something of a big deal here.  In fact, the menacing ‘Crippletron’ from the infamous “No Meals on Wheels” episode returns with Joe taking his prime spot once again as the head of this monstrosity comprised of hundreds of wheelchair bound enemies.

In terms of the game play, we saw Brian and Stewie effortlessly switch back and forth in mid-level to rain death and destruction upon those who traded in their crutches (one of them anyway) for AK-47s and others who had outfitted their wheelchairs with rockets to reach true ramming speed while carrying guns or clubs of their own.

Luckily, Brian and Stewie have plenty of tricks of their own up their not paralyzed sleeves. We saw everything from sniper rifles, assault rifles, automatic shotguns, flamethrowers, and laser blasters, all of which could be upgraded by earning cash from causing destruction in the environment and laying waste to your enemies. We also saw a variety of special items on the game’s item wheel, including golden eggs that hatch into fighting chickens and Stewie’s patented diaper grenade, to help Brian and Stewie move their way through these new and unusual worlds while also paying their own little tribute to some of the TV series’ best episodes.

One of the nicest things we saw with the demo though was how in just a short month the game’s look and feel seems to be a lot cleaner and crisper than the demo we saw at E3. And when you combine that look which falls directly in line with that of the show, some solid third-person shooter action, and some absolutely hysterical writing, as the game is being written by the folks at Fuzzy Door and everything is approved by Seth MacFarlane himself, its very easy to see how fans of Family Guy should start getting excited about this game. The only question now is what other dimensions besides the Amish and Handicapable worlds will Brian and Stewie travel to? We’ll just have to wait until September to find out.

EGM Game Over Podcast 004: Surviving San Diego

The EGM crew brings you the Game Over Podcast, our end-of-the-week conversation where we discuss some of the biggest recent events in gaming.

[Hosts] Brandon Justice, Ray Carsillo, and Eric L. Patterson
[Date] July 13th, 2012

[Special] Brandon, Ray, and Eric travel to the San Diego Comic-Con 2012, and talk about the first few days of the show, Tomb Raider, Injustice, Fortnite, Beyond: Two Souls, the ups and down of cosplay, bringing babies to conventions, and much more.

If you’d like to hear the previous three episodes you can check them out on iTunes below.

[Subscribe via iTunes] http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/egm-radio/id538629924
[Subscribe via Feedburner] http://feeds.feedburner.com/EGMRadio

Originally Published: August 9, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

One of the most charming and long lasting impressions that you take away from Comic-Con is the pure love and devotion that people are willing to show by pouring hours on end into costumes just to go gallivanting around the Con for a few days. Some put more thought and effort in than others and some simply relish the opportunity to show off some of their finer…ummm…assets, but no matter what the reason behind it, cos-playing is one of those things that define the Con and is proof positive as to why this is the pop culture extravaganza that it is. On that note, here are some of our favorites that we saw while roaming the show floor.

1. Castle Crashers: CHARGE! When released in 2008 as part of the Xbox Summer of Arcade that year, few knew the intense following the simple side-scroller beat ‘em up Castle Crashers would encourage and these two gentlemen here are proof positive why it was a hit.

2.Catwoman: Puuurrrfect in every way, this femme fatale is a comic book staple for over 70 years now and is a favorite for female Con-goers everywhere representing the strong independent woman mindset. The authentic bullwhip also works as a deterrent for those of us who ogle too long.

3.Ghostbusters: Who ya gonna call?! Probably not these guys. It wouldn’t be a Comic-Con though without staples like Slave Leias, Stormtroopers, or a fearless foursome in brown jumpsuits. Including prop ghost traps and proton packs, these guys (and lady) are ready to believe you.

4. Black Cat: If this is what Black Cat looks like, you might have to question Peter Parker’s tastes for sticking with Mary Jane all those years when he had this waiting for him for a long while. Although rather harmless looking, this feisty feline knows where to hurt you the most.

5. Portal: Lacking in characters to cos-play as, did not act as a deterrent this year for Portal fans. This group found a way to put everyone in a costume with Chele, a pair of portals, and even a very lovely Companion Cube. They all deserve some cake for their efforts.

6. CoD Sniper: As the world rushes by him, the quiet and calm sniper stays hidden in the brush, waiting patiently for his target to finally enter his sights. Holding my breath, I quickly squeezed the trigger when this Sniper wandered into my sights due to the great effort put into his costume.

7. Waldo: Where is he? Right here. And I found his girlfriend, too. I always was very good at those books. I wonder just how much they actually blended in though once they made it through the Con doors and mingled amongst the huge crowds.

8. Army of Two: You can tell cos-players take their craft seriously when you ask them for a picture and they strike a pose relevant to the characters they are portraying. Unfortunately for them, the Call of Duty Sniper from earlier is off camera ready to take them both out.

9. Female Assassin: A huge fan favorite this year was people dressed as Assassin’s Creed characters. The fan turnout was rewarded by Ubisoft as those who dressed as AC characters and attended their Saturday panel, like our female assassin here, were promised free autographed Signature Editions of Revelations when released.

10. Princess Peach: Not the most traditional Peach, but if this is what is always awaiting Mario, no wonder why he keeps going through eight castles for her and that Bowser won’t stop kidnapping her. If your choice was this girl or weird little mushroom people, well, is it really a choice then?

11. Street Fighter: Another group shot, these folks decided to take on the guise of several protagonists from the Street Fighter series including fan favorites like Chun-Li, Ryu, and Blanka. They sure let themselves go since Super Street Fighter IV was released though, haven’t they?