|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS|
|Release: June 26, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Robert VerBruggen
Unlike certain other superheroes (ahem), Spider-Man actually has a fairly admirable history when it comes to video games. Thus we're tentatively optimistic about The Amazing Spider-Man, even though it's tied to a movie release. By combining the open world gameplay of the classic Spider-Man 2 with the new developments of Batman's Arkham Asylum and City games—and then adding some brand-spanking-new features—developer Beenox promises, well, an amazing Spider-Man experience.
The last two Beenox Spider-Man games were traditional, linear action titles, so it's good to see Spidey back in his natural habitat: an open world. In The Amazing Spider-Man, a disguised Peter Parker will be swinging between buildings by his magical web-strings and taking on side quests to help out the people of New York. As in previous games, he'll also be taking pictures to keep up the facade that he's just a lowly newspaper photographer trying to make a few bucks. And a new type of mission will have our hero chasing down armed bank robbers at high speed.
Which brings us to a new feature that Spider-Man will need to exploit, called Web Rush. Activating Web Rush will temporarily place the game in slow-motion, giving you time to select a place in the environment, to which Spider-Man will then rush with the aid of his web skills. You can also use the feature to change directions in the blink of an eye, so we expect Web Rush to be a terrific navigational tool, as well as a key to winning boss fights. There's also a feature called Web Retreat, which allows Spider-Man to escape problematic combat situations in a hurry. Hopefully, Web Retreat won't be too easy to abuse or the combat will be remarkably easy.
Speaking of easy combat, the various systems of previous games have been scrapped in favor of a fairly blatant "borrowing" from the two recent Arkham titles. Tool-assisted stealth will be a priority, and you'll have various ways of silently taking down enemies. Sometimes, of course, the situation will call for fisticuffs—and then you'll have a single attack button complemented by a counter button, and you'll have to get the timing right to win. Once you get the hang of it, you can build truly ridiculous combos. You'll earn EXP, which you can use to purchase helpful but non-essential abilities. The campaign will also share the basic structure of the Batman games, with most of the main missions taking place indoors, but with those indoor locations spread throughout a massive open world.
The story, which takes place in the aftermath of the film, will also feel right at home for longtime Arkham residents and comic book fans of all stripes. Thanks to some kind of Oscorp research mishap, Dr. Curt Connors has accidentally been turned into Lizard. The megacorporation is up to no good in other ways, too. Its DNA research has revealed ways to create animal-human hybrids, and its army of robots is attacking the city. Your foes will include Rhino, Iguana, and Black Cat. Bruce Campbell, an actor who appeared in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films and narrated several Spider-Man games, has revealed that his voice will appear in this game as well.
Unfortunately, one thing The Amazing Spider-Man will not share with the Arkham games is its release schedule. Arkham Asylum came out well behind The Dark Knight, and despite sharing the same mood, the two projects weren't officially related. By contrast, The Amazing Spider-Man is a pretty traditional movie game—and we know how those usually turn out, so we're hoping the tight deadline won't force the developers to cut corners.
If you're willing to take the risk, several retailers are offering pre-order bonuses. Those who buy through GameStop will receive a special challenge mission in which they play as Rhino, destroying things with wanton abandon. And Amazon offers the opportunity to plan as Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee as he races to find pages from his new script.
We're inherently skeptical of any movie game. It basically goes with the job of video game criticism. But call us crazy—The Amazing Spider-Man actually looks like it will be a worthwhile endeavor. By bringing Spider-Man back to the days of his best video games, liberally borrowing features from a rival (but very successful) franchise, and adding an awesome new movement mechanic, Beenox just might have broken the movie game mold. We will find out for sure toward the end of June.
Date: May 15, 2012