Spider-Man 2 for Xbox, PS2, and GameCube holds a special place in my heart, primarily for its locomotion. Spider-Man could swing wherever there was an available helicopter, building, or other object to attach a web to. He could run on walls, leap 20 feet into the air, and Izuna-drop thugs off of the Empire State Building. It was a beautiful thing.
With The Amazing Spider-Man, Beenox is taking a similar “playground” approach, making Manhattan available for Spider-Man to swing around in, and focusing on his agility and mobility. So, naturally, the first thing I did upon getting my hands on the game’s E3 demo was to throw myself off of the starting building, and at the last moment, I used the right trigger to shoot out a web line and save myself. So far so good.
I used the momentum from my first swing to leap up to a nearby building, running along the side of it by holding RT (yes, wall-running and web-swinging are mapped to the same button, which is occasionally awkward, but I didn’t have too many troubles during the demo). I then leapt from the building and decided to try out the game’s much-touted “Web Rush” mechanic.
Tapping RB worked quite a bit like the “web zip” abilities from the previous games, shooting Spider-Man towards the direction you’re facing with a fancy animation. Holding RB, on the other hand, would slow everything down, pull the camera in to a first-person view, and cover the environment with golden Spider-Man silhouettes. Selecting one would automatically make Spider-Man do all sorts of cool context-sensitive stuff like running on cars and bouncing off walls to get to his destination very quickly.
At first, this felt a tad disappointing. I mean, I wanted to do all that stuff myself, not have the game do it for me… but with a bit more experimentation, I realized that the mechanic isn’t meant to just put the game on autopilot. At any point during a Web Rush, it could be cancelled out of with a swing or redirected with another Web Rush. It’s “semi-autopilot”.
Curiously, unlike Spider-Man 2, the game’s side-missions are not started until you initiate them yourself, so Spider-Man will never just come across a mugging or a car-chase. Instead, he’ll hear about them via police radio chatter and the missions won’t start until he reaches a designated point. It was kind of an odd disconnect to hear about a speeding car and not worry about it as I swung around the city collecting comic book pages, but eventually I made my way over there.
Catching the speeding car was simple enough: I just kept tapping the Web Rush button to get closer and closer to the car until Spider-Man hopped onto the hood. I had to pepper the windshield with web (B repeatedly) and dodge out of the way with Y when a guy popped out of the window with a shotgun and Spider-Man’s spider-sense indicated danger. After tossing the car into a giant web (I’m still not 100% how that happened), I decided I’d go stop a shootout next.
It might have simply come from a lack of experience, but the shootout was a little annoying. At first, I tried to sneak up on the machinegun-toting thugs, but that didn’t work out particularly well. After taking a ton of bullets (you can’t use your spider-sense to dodge machinegun fire) and running away with LB (pretty much the escape version of Web Rush), I waited for my health to regain (no health bars in this game, the screen just reddens) before smacking into an enemy with a Web Rush.
Perhaps more time with the game would help me out a bit more, but I basically just tried to punch people with X until I got enough hits in a combo (6 in the demo, 10 in the full version) to take an enemy out with a fancy “signature attack” mapped to Y. This usually led to me being filled with lead and zipping back to somewhere safe. Finally I tried holding B to wrap an enemy up in web before spinning the left stick around to spin him like a hammer and use him as a writhing bludgeon against his friends.
I then swung over to a mini-fight with the Rhino that wasn’t much different than the car chase. I had to lure the Rhino to charge towards me and dodge at the right time to get his head stuck in an armored car before smacking him with a Web Rush. After doing this three times, the fight was over and I was tossed into another battle. This one had me chasing after a drone and smacking it with multiple Web Rushes before Spider-Man hopped onto it and ripped its camera off as I mashed square. When the drone was destroyed, my demo was over.
Food for Thought:
Spider-Man’s suit is pretty meticulously detailed in the game and will get torn up as you take damage.