The preview session of The Amazing Spider-Man didn't dispel all of my fears about the game, but it did away with most of them. The good news is that The Amazing Spider-Man will not be a throw-away, crappy, movie tie-in game. You may question the necessity of all of those adjectives, but I ask you not to question my contempt of movie games. Beenox Studios is bringing their third Spider-Man game out in as many years. The Amazing Spider-Man was developed by Beenox's A-team, that is, the one responsible for the critically acclaimed Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
Interestingly, the story of that Beenox is telling is original. The Amazing Spider-Man game is set after the events of the movie. Details on that story aren't readily available, but there are plenty of evil-doers from Spider-Man lore for the web-slinger to beat on. Today, we know that Rhino, and The Lizard will be prime figures in game's cast.
Thomas Gerou, the Marketing Manager for the game told us that the goal for the development team was to enable players to be Spider-Man rather than simply control him. In pursuit of this goal, The Amazing Spider-Man features a third-person camera that is pulled exceptionally tight to the character. In a normal view, the camera sits at about the waist of Spider-Man, and he dominates most of the middle of the frame. This does give the player a look at Spidey's model, which is the best rendering of Spider-Man that exists outside of the films. At first blush though, the camera change doesn't make much sense, then, Spidey starts slinging his way around a gorgeously recreated Manhattan. The demo was eyes-on only, but when the swinging started, it looked righteous. It appears that Beenox has nailed the next-gen version of the incredible web-swinging we all remember from 2004's Spider-Man 2. It feels visceral. It moves fast. It looks, well, amazing.
As far as things to do in the open-world Manhattan, Beenox reports that there will be all sorts of challenges in the city. The one that we were shown charged Spider-Man with aiding the police in concluding a high-speed car chase. Swinging high above the chase, Spidey was able to safely keep tabs on his targets. When the moment was right, Spider-Man pounced on the hood of one of the offending cars, this triggered a quick-time mini-game to disable the vehicle and its occupants. The sequence ended with Spider-Man suspending the criminals car in a gigantic web spun between two telephone poles.
The demo shifted then to an interior level that was meant to show off the close combat abilities of the web-slinger. Here is where the comparisons with Spider-Man 2 stop, and the comparisons with another game begin. The Amazing Spider-Man's close quarters combat owes a lot to Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum. The stealth works similarly, the combat looks to operate nigh identically, and even the brain-dead AI makes a cameo. This isn't necessarily bad. It's well known that the recent Batman games have had satisfying, if shallow combat. The combat system, arguably, fits Spider-Man better than the Dark Knight due to the incredibly acrobatic nature of the former. For those unfamiliar with the combat system that I'm discussing, it allows the hero to attack in any direction at any time. It lends itself to very rewarding, but ultimately not very difficult combat. Stealth works less on a player's ability to remain hidden or be sneaky, and more on the AI's inability to detect anything going wrong, ever. For instance, Spidey, from the ceiling, yanks a baddie up to the ceiling and ropes him up. The baddie's buddies might get suspicious and look around for a bit, but given some time, they'll return to what they were doing, no worse for the wear. Metal Gear Solid, this is not. Obviously, all of this is designed with the intent of empowering the player, and that's fine, it's just not for everyone.
The demo concluded with a sneak peek at the boss fight with Rhino. The character model for the Rhino was imposing, menacing, and detailed. The fight, what little was shown, was uninspiring. The mechanic for defeating the boss was the classic, "wait for him to charge, then jump out of the way! Then he'll smack a wall and you can beat his ass!" Granted, Mr. Gerou said that we had only seen the beginning of the fight, but that beginning was an uninspired. A shame, since the rest of the game had seemed just the opposite.