The last few Spider-Man outings were mostly enjoyable games but nothing spectacular and definitely weren’t worth a day one purchase. The last two particularly (Edge of Time, Shattered Dimensions) featured a linear style rather than the more common open world feel found in previous games (Web of Shadows). While each game had its pros, there were far too many cons, something Beenox have worked very hard to eradicate in the upcoming game.
We were taken through a presentation by Beenox Executive Producer, Brett Nicholas, where he informed us that the forthcoming game takes place after the events of the upcoming movie. Nicholas explains that they have worked on four core aspects of the game in order to provide that they hope will be the best Spider-Man game to date.
The first aspect is the narrative and to make it as story-heavy as possible they have got several comic writers on board, along with Kevin Feige and Avi Arad helping with the project. Nicholas also explains how Beenox felt that in the past games players were withdrawn from the character. The camera was taken too far back which gave the feeling of Spidey being a puppet, rather than players actually being the character. As a result the camera has been taken far closer in to Spider-Man. The third aspect worked on is Spider-Man’s web mechanics such as web slinging, web rushing, attacks with the webs and how the web shooters actually look. The last aspect sees the big return of the city, Manhattan. Spider-Man’s playground returns and looks phenomenal.
Telling us about the improvements is one thing, but how did they filter through in the actual game? We had a chance to play it at E3 and we were delightfully surprised. The first thing noticeable when playing is the camera which Nicholas mentioned. Players are very close to Spider-Man which gives the feeling of actually being the character, something the Batman games have done very well. This is emphasized when jumping off buildings to web swing with a feeling of vertigo surrounding the character. Anyone who has been bungie jumping will get that same feeling of a rush to the head as seen in the game. The camera also does a good job during combat, once again making you feel as though you actually are Spider-Man.
The combat itself has been revamped and features moves from Spider-Man’s repertoire. No longer do the strange web attacks exist, but a far more balanced combat system comes into play. The melee combat resembles the rhythmic attacks found in the Batman series with counters and special moves being used. The web attacks compliment the melee combat and players will find themselves trying to mix up their attacks as much as possible. The game also has RPG aspects in that players gain XP and can upgrade Spider-Man however they see fit, with upgrades to Spidey’s tech and abilities, as well as new suits to try.
Spider-Man’s web mechanics are one of the highlights of the game. Not only is the web swinging fast and fluid, it also looks incredible and swinging around the city for the sake of it is part of the fun. Web Rush is also introduced in a new way and is another fantastic feeling in the game. Spidey can use his Spider Sense to slow down time and mark out a number of places where he can move to. This includes vantage points, missions or wherever else he wants to go. Pick a spot and through a combination of button pushes Spider-Man will get to the spot as quickly as possible, swinging, running on walls, bouncing off buildings and landing at the spot. The movement is excellent and using Web Rush is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game so far.
The missions in the game also vary, with petty crimes, car chases and other side missions giving a break from the more story based missions. The boss battles are also far more entertaining than in previous Spidey games as Beenox have gone for a more realistic feel and look of some of Spider-Man’s most classic villains.
A couple side notes about the game, the first being that scattered all over Manhattan are comic pages which when collected unlocks FULL digital comics. This means that by buying the game you also receive 10 digital comics from Spider-Man’s history including his first appearance and more. There will also be DLC released, including Rhino Mode which allows you to play as Rhino and cause as much destruction around the city as possible. The other DLC lets players play as Stan Lee with his own missions, own dialogue, own catchphrases and more.
Amazing Spider-Man turned out to be one of the biggest surprises at E3 this year. We all expected another mediocre game, but what we saw was a product which was clearly hard worked on as Beenox seem committed to providing a real superhero title. There were many other aspects not detailed here, Spidey’s smack talk for example, and also Nicholas letting some awesome information slip that… nah, get the game and see for yourself. if you have any questions feel free to ask and we can answer them in the comments section. The Amazing Spider-Man releases on 29 June 2012, and if it wasn’t on your to-buy-list, it should be now.