From all appearances, the Amazing Spider-Man was a great game. The graphics were the most outstanding I've ever seen in any Spidey game, the city was expanded well, the quarantine gave a reason as to why it was impossible to just keep swinging until you got to another city, the idea of basing Spidey's moves off of lucha libre was genius, etc. The dialogue was also pretty well done, though there were some cheesy parts, most notably, the script reading "super painful screaming" when Spidey was injected by the nanobots. I also enjoyed all of the references to the various Spidey villains (Symbiote, Vulture, Morbius, etc.) as well as the various call-back lines to Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions ("Is this a private fight or can I join?").
However, there are a few flaws that stood out to me as I went through the game. As many people are quick to point out, this game feels like an Arkham Asylum/Arkham City equivalent of Spider-Man. However, this is not completely accurate. The combat system is similar, but the execution of the game itself is not.
1. Beenox did a great job trying to keep things realistic for their game. I liked how Spider-Man is incapable of web-swinging when his powers are dampened by Smythe's nanobots. I absolutely LOVED how Peter reloads his web-shooters automatically; not only does this make the "unlimited webbing" you have at your disposal more realistic, but it also prevents the shortcoming of running out of webbing and having to do it yourself! Imagine how annoying fights against the Spider Slayers would be if you suddenly began falling into their wield fields of attack due to wasting your webs trying to maneuver over to the darn things! It's little touches like that that not only make the game better, but make it feel more alive.
However, this very same treatment does not seem to have been given to the dialogue. I noticed that in certain segments, the Os Corp
guards would continue to throw the same jeers to Spider-Man; similarly, Felicia Hardy's lines loop quite frequently in her boss fight. The developers of Arkham City mentioned how they spent much more time recording lines than they did in Arkham Asylum, due to the same lines repeating continuously and feeling more like random gibbering rather than actual human dialogue. I think Beenox could stand to do something like this for their sequel. For instance, fights could have Spidey's typical banter tossed back and forth between him and his adversary. Of course, the barbs would naturally have to stop once Spider-Man actually landed a hit, lest a villain be talking while simultaneously receiving a fist to the face. However, Beenox has shown that they are capable of doing that with the thugs, so I think it's within their ability to incorporate this without a problem.
2. In Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, you have several ways of Batman meeting his untimely end should you fail in your mission to defeat the Joker. You have natural deaths in which Batman falls over from taking too much damage from the typical thugs, but you also have specialized situations where Batman's death changes, such as when Tiny the Shark eats you in Arkham City should you fall into the water. This is not only a good tactic for a superhero game, but a necessary one to keep things fresh and interesting. Very rarely do supervillains reuse the same plot, after all, so each death scenario is typically fresh and with a new sense of danger.
Unfortunately, Spider-Man's death animation in this game, which incidentally is also recycled from Shattered Dimensions, appears to be the same whenever you die. If in mid-air, he falls to the ground limply, and the camera switches to his point of view, the last thing you see being his left arm. It's a rather boring death, to be honest. If, perhaps, during this segment the villain who killed you stepped forth to taunt or attack you a final time before going on their merry way, then perhaps it would be a bit better. But ultimately, I feel that Beenox needs to create different death scenarios for Spider-Man as well in order to prevent things from being too "samey". A good reference point would be the quick time events in Web of Shadows. Whenever Spider-Man failed those segments, there was a unique death animation for him...except in that weird instance where Symbiote Wolverine would keep randomly punching you in the fact, even if he was on the other side of the area during the QTE.
Don't get me wrong, I don't like the idea of watching one of my favorite superheroes getting mauled. But wouldn't it be less boring to die throughout the game if you have a different animation to watch each time rather than the same tedious loop?
3. One of my favorite features in the Arkham games is the patient interviews that lie around in the walls of the facility you are exploring. Personally, I find listening to these tapes to be a lot more fun than hoping around as Batman, because not only do they develop the villains that we have to take down over the course of the game, but they make their stories relevant to what's going on. For instance, the Mad Hatter is convinced to work for Hugo Strange developing a mind controlling device in exchange for Alice. This explains not only how Hugo Strange was able to manipulate Warden Sharp into doing all of the things he did to make Arkham City possible, but also explains why the Mad Hatter seems so ticked when Batman is near Vicki Vale, a notably blonde woman...like Alice. It was little nods like these that were creative and allowed for well done story telling without making it feel too choppy.
However, the Spider-Man games do not feature these interview tapes, which is somewhat baffling. True, none of Spider-Man's adversaries (save one reformed Connors) are not confined to asylums, but some of Spidey's main antagonists are the Os Corp
scientists. And what do scientists do? They hypothesize, test, and record their results in order to allow future scientists to repeat the experiments and upgrade their theories to facts. This could have been a remarkable story-telling tool for this game, helping to tie in little snippets from the profiles.Vermin's tapes, for example, could have alleviated the awkward wording of his profile which was mostly dialogue-centric anyway. It would also allow us to better sympathize with characters like Rhino or Vermin, who are stated to be mutated humans in their biographies, but are treated like nothing more than just giant animals in the story. It makes their profile data seem a bit less genuine when the facts don't carry over to the story.
It wouldn't be too hard to come up with content for the tapes as it is, considering the nature of the characters. For Curt Connors, perhaps he has recordings of his theories of how the Lizard serum can benefit people, or perhaps how Norman Osborn is relying on him to make a cure for his cancer prior to his becoming the Lizard. The cross-species' tapes would simply involve the scientists responsible for making them documenting their behavior, acquiring their test subjects, etc. Scorpion's could even involve him speaking, considering his profile states him to have a high intellect and the capabilities for speech. Felicia's could be recordings for a psychiatric evaluation in prison or something. And easiest of all would have been Smythe's. The man spends all of his time amongst machines, and is quarantined in Oscorp for most of the game with a virus destroying his mind and body. Wouldn't it make sense for the man who believed he was going to usher in a new era of Oscorp and save the city to have some kind of recording where he details his plans, perhaps to keep himself sane? This could've worked exceptionally well, not only showing Smythe's reliance on machines, but also demonstrating how he gradually came to hate Spider-Man and ultimately arrive at the conclusion that he is Peter Parker.
4. On the subject of the profiles, let me state that they serve their purpose well. They give the characters backstories, and some even have little continuity nods to the comics. Scorpion's profile, for instance, has the cross-species named M.A.C. by its creator Doctor Octavius to stand for "My Astounding Creation". Obviously, fans of the series would recognize Mac as the first name of Mac Gargan, the Scorpion from the comics. They would also note the secondary reference in the symbiote that is mixed into the Scorpion's biology, another reference to Mac Gargan who went on to become Venom after Eddie Brock in the comics.
But therein lies the problem with this: FANS of Spider-Man would understand this. To someone who just picked up a Spider-Man game for the first time, these would be a curious and confusing facts. Why is this black space goop able to increase the intellect of a cross species? Some may simply go along with the fact since it's a comic book game, and others may look up the original series to see why things are this way. But, I feel this is somewhat poor writing on the developer's part. By all means, I encourage the idea of reading and doing research to understand the various references brought up in this game. However, I do not believe that any medium of writing should depend so heavily on alternate source material to explain the plot points that it raises. This is especially bad since this is the first game in a new series, which means the writers should explain how their universe works, rather than piggybacking on explanations of the past. This allows new fans of Spidey's to integrate into the fanbase a bit easier.
But, despite my complaints, I definitely feel that this is a step in the right direction for Spider-Man games. With any luck, there will be a second and third Amazing Spider-Man game (and movie), introducing a new slew of characters and villains. Personally, I'm hoping that Kraven will show up in the next medium, considering the recent outbreak of animal themed villains would give him a reason to come to Manhattan for a hunt.
With any luck, Beenox will incorporate some of the things I discussed in order to improve the little details, but overall, I'd have to say they did a pretty amazing job.
edited 15th Jul '12 9:52:51 PM by Hobgoblin