The Amazing Spider-Man developer Beenox has had a superb run with the Spider-Man license since Activision put them in charge of game development a couple of years ago. It got its start with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, a game featuring four different heroes to choose from (Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, alternative costume Spider-Man and Noir Spider-Man) and new gameplay elements that made things really unique. Last year, it followed through once again with Spider-Man: Edge of Time, a game that focused more on the antics of Amazing and 2099 with a great time-shifting storyline that fans could get into.
For its third attempt with the franchise, Beenox is going in a different direction. Instead of having players romp through enclosed areas like Dimensions and Edge of Time, it’s taking a page out of the books that relates to previously-made Spider-Man games. The Amazing Spider-Man, which is based loosely on the upcoming Sony reboot film of the same name, is their next attempt, and Activision recently gave us a chance to give it a test-drive.
The idea of open-world exploration is huge for someone like Spidey as he’s able to web-sling across the city and find objectives. There are main story objectives to complete with a tale that follows the events of the film and has Spidey crossing paths with the likes of Dr. Curt Connors (aka The Lizard), as well as other villains like Iguana and Rhino. (To make things even more curious, Black Cat also appears throughout the game as well.)
The game also includes side missions where you can perform random acts of heroics throughout the city. One of these was displayed during the demo, showing Spidey taking on a pair of armed thugs as they were driving away from police pursuers. It essentially has him disabling the vehicle while dodging incoming bullets, a task that isn’t as easy as it looks – especially at high speed.
We like this return to the open world of gameplay! Beenox definitely did its homework when it came to the in-game engine, as you can literally swing across Manhattan for what looks like hours on end, exploring and even making your way across a bridge, watching the traffic pass by below. We had yet to take on story missions to see how they unfolded, but you can probably expect some epic encounters with the revealed villains, along with a few surprise faces.
As for combat, the game has a free-flowing combat engine similar to previous games where you could knock opponents within your range using web attacks and combos. It’s pretty easy to string them up should things get a little too hairy, giving you a second or so to breathe before you go back to slamming them around. It wasn’t a hands-on demo, but it looks very enticing.
Probably the coolest part of the game is being able to see the action through Spidey’s eyes. Granted, this isn’t for the entire adventure, but in certain parts, when you’re perched somewhere in the city. You can go under his hood and get a good look around, wondering what you can stick to as far as wall-crawling goes, or setting up a zip line that whisks you from one location to another – perfect if you’re in a hurry or trying to catch up with someone.
Along with the terrific gameplay (really, every aspect of it seems like it comes together like a good Spider-Man should), Beenox has also gone the extra mile with its engine – not a simple task when you’re used to making games with closed environments. The city looks fantastic thus far, and there’s a lot of room to roam as you swing around. Spidey’s animations are stellar, as he stylishly goes into each swing and occasionally shows off, just like citizens expect him to. But don’t be fooled – while he appreciates his abilities, he doesn’t take them too much for granted, and can pound thugs like a pro. No ego-laden superhero antics here. (You hear that, Tony Stark? Heh.)
As for the audio, The Amazing Spider-Man contains plenty of ambience, including honking cars and citizens walking around, like a real city. Unfortunately, Activision wouldn’t confirm just yet if Andrew Garfield, who plays Peter Parker in the film, would be coming on board for voice duty. But they can easily find a strong voiceover actor, like someone who played him before in Shattered Dimensions of Edge of Time.
Even though Treyarch is no longer behind the helm (they’re busy with an independent project called Black Ops II or something rather), Beenox is filling the role quite nicely with their progress on The Amazing Spider-Man. The gameplay looks like fun, and the presentation definitely stays true to the film thus far. Be sure to swing into action with it when it arrives in late June just a week before the film.