With The Amazing Spider-Man swinging into theaters, we thought we should take the time to find out what it takes to make a great Spider-Man game.
Spidey's been through the wringer throughout his stint as a video game hero in addition to his day job as a Marvel forerunner. He's graced us with performances both good and bad. This seems to be the case with many of Peter Parker's newer jaunts -- a strong premise and promising gameplay assets that fizzle out to little more than decent licensed adventures. They're still better than any of Superman's games, but then again, what isn't?
There's got to be a way to ensure future games are improvements on those of the past. And we think we've got the answers: collect what makes Spidey games great -- what works, and whatever made stepping into the webslinger's shoes memorable. We can't say we're developers or anything, but we're thinking these aspects combined should make a powerhouse superhero game.
Keep It Open
A stealthy Spidey isn't impressive. Peter Parker is best known as the crafty, witty webslinger with a quick-fire joke for any occasion. We're just not accustomed to a brooding Parker slinking around in the shadows. It's not that exciting, for one thing, and games like Batman: Arkham Asylum seem to have fit that niche beautifully already. So why not give players the real freedom they crave: free reign across the board in any fictional city we find Spidey fighting crime? Games like Grand Theft Auto and Prototype are exemplary for this, allowing players to go wherever they please and offering plenty of options for side quests and additional content to supplement the story unfolding with each completed objective.
This has been done quite exceptionally in previous Spider-Man releases and with success. Once this element is removed, Spidey's exploits become considerably less "epic" -- the feeling you get when whizzing through the air with the lightness of a feather, dangling by a thick cord of web is gone. It not only meshes well with mission-based gameplay, but it makes a generally linear game feel much less like a slog. We know it works, and we'd like to see more of it in the future, rather than confining Spider-Man and his foes to simple flicks of the wrist to ensnare a foe and close-quarters combat.
When Spidey throws punches and delivers some seriously damaging kicks, it's impressive. When he implements his one calling card, the sticky yet impossibly strong webbing he's always got an abundance of, things really start heating up. Anyone can headbutt a perp or go toe-to-toe in combat. Only Spidey can implement the finesse and grace that a spider capturing its prey exudes. Oh, and there's the awesome stuff you can do to a bad guy while he's bound together with webbing -- like shoot more and try to blind him, because it's hilarious. In any case, let's focus less on making Spidey a big he-man and let him develop the powers he's known for even further. This was an exciting feature in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, and it should be a staple of each subsequent game.
Why So Serious?
Spidey's a multi-faceted character, and can adapt to most situations. But he's at his best when we can't keep him from mocking his enemies and ensuring everyone knows not to mess with Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Heavy, introspective narratives and those that attempt to answer questions we aren't really asking work against keeping things light, frantic, and fun. Batman seems to have cornered the market when it comes to urban fantasy and questioning every part of your existence, so why not give us many more chances to laugh at Spidey's stupid puns and antics? In the end, that's a key component of what makes stepping into the iconic red and blue suit so memorable, and good writing makes it happen.
Switch It Up
While not every arena of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions lent itself well to the different versions of Spider-Man throughout time and space, it did do one thing perfectly: it served up plenty of different objectives and ways to complete them, as well as a myriad of play styles that offered more to focus on than simply "kill the bad guys and escape." In one area you were chasing down a crazed mercenary and in the next you were swinging through lush jungle areas, only then to be transported to the past, stalking your prey in the shadows and systematically taking them out. Not every single Spider-Man fit the mold we've been working toward in our previous descriptors, but they certainly made for some solid, unique ideas that hadn't yet been fully explored, and we're down for seeing more.
We're down for brand new Spider-Man adventures, but sometimes themes that follow the original source material of a popular piece of media are delectable too. Remember Spider-Man back on the original PlayStation? It combined elements of Spider-Man and Spider-Man Unlimited, both fantastic cartoon series, and it also pulled several suits and quotes from the comic books themselves. While this isn't a staunch requirement for future Spider-Man releases, it's a nice nod to fans who have been following the character from the start, and a way to reward longtime readers with a special nudge, like "Hey -- we know you're out there, and we didn't forget you." Trust us. It wouldn't be forgotten.
Which elements of previous Spidey games have you been smitten with? What do you think we could create with said elements? Let us know below and also how you feel about The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters.