Of all the superheroes who have received the video game treatment, Spider-Man is one who seems to be stuck in the mediocrity rut time and time again. Ever since the release of open-world hit Spider-Man 2 in 2004, everyone’s favorite web-slinger has fallen prey to boring, uninspired sequels that have left us wondering if he’ll ever find his way back to the top of the superhero genre again.
As developer Beenox prepares to release The Amazing Spider-Man, we may find a small glimmer of hope still shines in this possibility.
The makers of both Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Beenox has taken Spider-Man and tried to depart from the boring and overdone games of his past by re-inventing him with new story lines and interesting character development.
While they did fairly well in reviews, the games still didn’t seem to capture quite the appeal they had back in the glory days of Spider-Man 2.
And that’s where Beenox has decided to step in and take the series back to the popular open-world roots that made it such a success.
Although it is technically a tie-in for the upcoming film set to release on July 3, the game itself picks up immediately after the events of the movie, allowing players to enjoy a story line outside of the film’s context.
In it, Spider-Man is attempting to quell the dangerous human/reptile cross-species who have escaped the walls of the corrupt company OsCorp. On top of that, he also has to deal with the destructive Spider Slayer robots who are on a mission to take out the lethal cross-species, even if they reduce all of Manhattan to rubble in the process.
Balancing justice and good common sense safety and health, Spider-Man will have to find a way to stop the two forces before they completely destroy the city itself.
It’s during this process that Spider-Man will encounter the Manhattan that has become an open-world environment made up of promising gameplay conventions, such as side missions and random crime occurrences. While traveling around to his next objective, Spider-Man might encounter a mugging or a robbery, and it’ll be up to him to put a stop to it and dole out a bit of justice.
He’ll also have the option to take on additional side missions and help out NPCs throughout the game.
In an attempt to give Manhattan a more realistic and alive feel, developers have taken the time to add in extra detail with the crowds throughout the city, even going so far as to make them react to seeing Spider-Man by calling out to him and attempting to take pictures of him with their camera phones. While it might seem like a minor detail, it’s conventions like this that might add to the game’s overall immersive quality, especially as an open-world superhero game, where superheroes enjoy a great amount of celebrity.
On top of that, special attention has been paid to the combat of Spider-Man. With a new and updated system of fighting moves, Spidey will move about in a more fluid and dangerous way, racking up successful combos to eventually unlock a special attack that will allow him to take out his enemies in one move. Also playing on the idea of the “spider sense,” which allows Spider-Man to see events take place at a much faster pace than reality, we’ll be introduced to Spider-Man’s web rush ability. With this, players will be able to slow time and strategically plan their moves ahead of execution to help them navigate the environment more smoothly. Upgrade trees will allow players to both unlock new combos and special attacks, and will even allow him some stealth moves that allow Spider-Man to take out enemies quickly and silently, Adam Jensen-style. With collectible tech pieces, Spider-Man will also be able to gain new moves and attacks with his web-slinging ability. Not only will these unlockable moves create more interesting gameplay, it will allow players to create a sort of custom Spider-Man they might feel suits their play style the best.
Truly, the open-world format fits the superhero game well, maybe even better than others. Think about it; if you were a superhero, what would you spend your time doing? By our definition of superheroes, they’re do-gooders. They’re the ones who will drop in and save you from the bad guys when all seems lost. And, if this is implemented well in an open-world style game, it could really give players a realistic take on what being a superhero is all about. Give us the freedom to roam, and we’ll feel more like the superpowered characters we’ve taken up the role of.
After all, what good is playing a Spider-Man game if you can’t just drop in and start web-blasting bad guys in the face?
There’s no question about it: Beenox has heard the call of fans, and it appears they’re doing their best to change up the formula and bring back the Spider-Man we all know so well. While time will ultimately decide whether they succeed or fail at this, I can’t help but feel like it’s a definite step in the right direction. All too often, superhero games hit way, way below the mark of greatness they could achieve, typically due to poor quality or wonky game mechanics. But it’s this sort of customizable, open-world style game that might just be what the doctor ordered to help give Spider-Man the boost he deserves.