Last week during GDC, we got the chance to check out the upcoming video game for The Amazing Spider-Man from Activision and Beenox. The developers gave us the run-down of what we can expect in this game and what new features will be included as we got to see the early build of the game in action.
Since this isn't Beenox's first time with Spider-Man, they decided they wanted to come at the character from a slightly different approach. The plan is change up elements such as web-swinging, combat and even the visuals. To do this, they had to rework several aspects of their technology. Apparently the team that worked on Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has been working on this game for nearly two years now. This has now become the biggest game they've worked on in terms of budget, time frame and resources.
The game will be based on four key pillars. The first is the story. Set in the upcoming movie's universe, the game will begin right where the movie ends off. What's good about this is they are not limited by any constraints from the movie. Characters such as Gwen Stacy and Curt Connors are said to play key roles in the game. Rhino has already been announced but because it's set in a different universe, they are able to explore his origin in a different fashion.
The second pillar of the game is the notion of being Spider-Man. When starting this game, their goal was in figuring out how to deliver the fantasy of being Spider-Man. The first task was dealing with the camera. This time around, the camera is much closer to your character and you sometimes get the feeling you're looking right over Spidey's shoulders. The character build appears much larger on your screen rather than having the pulled back view of a tiny Spider-Man swinging around. And when you are swinging around, the impression is given that you're the one doing it.
As you swing through the city, you'll make little comments about what's going on around and when you swoop down at street level, you'll hear cheers and awe from the public. It turns out they actually built the camera mechanics before incorporating Spider-Man to make sure they really captured the web-swinging feel.
The third pillar is the new game mechanic called the “Web Rush.” This mode will give you an incredible amount of control over the character during the game. You will be able to perform acrobatics and change direction in mid-air in determining where you want the character to go.
At any time in the game, you can press the Web Rush button. This will slow down time and you'll be presented with a variety of situational choices of where to go with Spider-Man. You'll see a bunch of yellow silhouettes of Spidey that give you options of where you can go. You are not locked into these choices and always have to option of going wherever you want. When you release the button, the game's mechanics will calculate the path and generate a nifty sequence of parkour-style animations in getting you there. Again, at anytime, in any sequence, you can take back the controls. You can swing in another direction or hit the Web Rush button once again and do a 180 in mid-sequence. This will be handy during fight scenarios. As you become more comfortable with the Web Rush mode, you'll be able to use it quicker by just tapping the button rather than holding it down and making your decisions.
The fourth pillar is bringing Manhattan back. The last time we had the full city was in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, four years ago. An enormous amount of detail has been put into the building of Manhattan. Standing on top of buildings you can see far off and get a scope of how big our playground can be.
As you move about the city, you'll come across different crimes situations you can jump into if you choose. There will be times you can help the police and even get involved in car chases (with you jumping on top of the car, of course). You won't feel forced to follow the set storyline since you have the freedom to move about but clearly you will have to complete main objectives to progress further in the game.
Spider-Man wears (obviously) the suit from the movie and, as you'd expect, there is a great amount of detail put into every aspect of it. The suit will get damaged over time (as in some other games we've recently seen). The suit will not magically heal over time. You will see Peter Parker's flesh underneath and possibly even his blood or scars if you continue to take a beating.
Besides the car chase mini-missions, there will be other things to do aside from the main story. There will be extreme races. Peter will get his camera back and have photo missions to accomplish. He'll also have an apartment in the city where he can go and do stuff. There is the overall story but you can go about Manhattan and do as you please, picking up the main objectives when you are ready. There will be a in-game map telling you were the different problems are.
The entire game won't take place outdoors in Manhattan. There will also be indoor levels. We got to see a level at an Oscorp secret facility. Connors research equipment has been stored here and for an “undisclosed reason,” Spider-Man needs to access them. The indoor game mechanics and swinging will be a little different than the outdoor ones to compensate for the change in environment, unlike in Shattered Dimensions.
The designer mentioned that they've taken notes from past games. There were many players that enjoyed the Spider-Man Noir parts in Shattered Dimensions. In response, they've brought back the stealth aspects, should you choose to use them. When entering a room full of guards, you can either jump right in and fight them or use stealth to take them down one at a time. There will also be a variety of stealth moves to mix things up.
The combat mechanics are varied with the style you take down the enemies. You always have the option of using the Web Rush feature in reverse. If the action gets too intense, you can always web yourself to a safe corner, on inside levels or outside ones.
The mechanical web shooters are back. There will be opportunities to upgrade your shooters throughout the games. At first you can simply hit thugs with webbing. Later it becomes more powerful and you can web parts of them to walls, etc. You won't have to worry about running out of web cartridges. In your belt, you'll have extra ones and there's a little animation showing you quickly reloading when necessary. The decision was made to have you contain the extra cartridges and not have to walk around and randomly discover ones lying around the environment. That always pulls you out of the game and just never makes sense.
A tiny glimpse of Rhino was given, showing how the Web Rush feature plays during the middle of a big battle.
Night and day will also play into the story of the game. For example, if you have a fight with Gwen, going outside will give you a dark feeling to enhance the mood of the game. There will also be a fake Twitter feed letting you know what the people of Manhattan are saying about your performance.
A final note, I tried getting at least a ballpark figure of how many villains we could expect but they couldn't even hint at a number. Voice actors couldn't be commented on either. We'll have to wait for future announcements.
On a side note, the mention and screenshots of a new villain, Iguana, has been released this morning.
Overall, the game is shaping up nicely. The improvements do make the game look better than previous attempts. For an early build, it looks good. The real test will be when we're able to actually get our hands on the game for ourselves. The main story missions and side ones will have to be varied enough to keep it all interesting and fresh. Also the choice of other villains should make sense in the context of the game and not just give us random Spidey villains thrown in just for the sake of giving us more villains. Iguana is an interesting choice and fits in with the apparent theme of the story but he's not exactly one that gets me excited. We'll have to wait and see how it all turns out.