Before Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham trilogy proved how top tier comic book properties could be perfectly adapted in the world of blockbuster video games; Electronic Arts was setting up to once again release a tie-in Batman game alongside Christopher Nolan’s second Bat film, The Dark Knight in 2008 . It would not have been their first Batman endeavor as the publisher had released a Batman Begins game, developed by Vicarious Visions, alongside the movie which critics gave luke warm reviews to and came in short of financial expectations.
Unseen64, a website dedicated to the archiving and artistic preservation of assets from canceled video games, recently documented EA’s failed Dark Knight video game for the YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming. While the Batman Begins game had been developed by Vicarious Visions this sequel would have been handled by (the now closed) Pandemic studio who were best known for the Mercenaries and Star Wars Battlefront series of the PlayStation 2 era. Titled, Batman: The Dark Knight; the game had come pretty far in development but was marred with technical problems stemming from Pandemic’s own specs. The below video shows tech demos, concept art produced before the movie even started principle photography and serves as a tragic tale of over promises mixed with mismanagement not uncommon in the world of game development.
The game would have been the first open world Batman game to be produced as we would not see Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham City until 2011. Dark Knight had all the makings of a phenomenal game. While it hadn’t come that far, even Gary Oldman had let slip his involvement in being set to record voice for the game. With the cast having already loaned their voice talents for the Batman Begins game, certainly a return for a bigger game follow up wouldn’t be hard to imagine.
What’s most interesting is that had any form of the game been released in 2008 publisher Electronic Arts could have kept their licensing rights in a similar deal to what Sony and Fox have with Marvel movie characters. Warner Brothers Interactive founded in 2004 licensed games based on the animated Batman universe until development switched to in-house studios such as Rocksteady. When the game was scrapped, EA appeared to simply let the rights revert back to WB. Electronic Arts might still be publishing Batman games today or at least through Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight game joins other comic book properties tie-ins, such as Avengers, in the pantheon of could have been gaming. If you’re curious about what other games from comics, TV, and Star Wars had games canceled during development check out Unseen64.