Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Xbox 360, 2014) First Impressions

The Amazing Asshole
I just got Spider-Man 2 yesterday after work and total I've spent almost 3 hours, maybe, with it.  I just finished the second major mission and defeated The Shocker.  The Shocker, who by the way, looks totally badass.  But, I'm not here to talk about that, I'm here to vent some frustration.

  I will admit that I'm early enough into the game that this opinion may completely change by the time I finish it.  So far it hasn't been a great experience but I'm not quite at the point where I'm going to give up.

  First, the positive.  The Noir Costume looks great.  All the costumes look great and following the Spider-Man game page on Facebook has previewed a lot of great costumes.  I'm a mark for costumes and each costume offers a buff and I'm an even bigger mark for costumes that actually DO something.  Also the stealth system is greatly improved and much more like Shattered Dimensions rather than the first ASM game where it was just not very good, from what I remember you could do stealth attacks from the ceiling but now you can do them from seemingly anywhere as long as the enemy isn't aware of you.  There are lots of collectibles and a challenge mode.  Um... well... let's see... already there are a bunch of smart, little references to the greater Marvel Universe which I appreciate.

  Alright, now I get to vent.  The game doesn't look that great.  Yes it's in pretty high definition but the people look off and move unnaturally.  The controls are not intuitive in the slightest.  I was given the simple mission to stop a car and I failed it the first time because I had no idea what the fuck to do and when I tried stuff I just ended up getting shot off the fucking car.  I eventually got there through trial and error but why is it so difficult?  This is supposed to be the TUTORIAL part of the game.  Tutor me!

  The combat looks weird and is sort of herky jerky.  I don't have any sense of flow and you get one attack button and one dodge so it's pretty much "mash A to win" and if there is any strategy to be used I haven't experienced it yet.  I'm not really having a great time with the combat and I kind of liked the combat in the last game because, while it was much slower, it looked nicer.  Aaron Schoenke (writer of "Patient J", co-founder of Bat in the Sun Productions) did the mocap for the game and I got all the respect in the world for him but I don't think they did him justice in the animation of the combat.  It certainly doesn't look mocap'ed by an awesome athlete.  It looks like someone who didn't know how the human body moved.  The movement is just to fast and, again, doesn't flow.  It's just here's a move, here's another move, here's a flippy do, etc.  I don't think it's visually engaging and I'm bored by the combat.

  Now on to movement.  I think this is the worst locomotion I've ever experienced in a Spider-Man game.  Maybe I'll eventually get used to it, it took me a while to get used to Spider-Man 2 which was arguably the best Spider-Man game ever.  I don't... sigh... I just don't understand why they have to fuck with things that work.  He moved great in Web of Shadows (and he moved like shit in ASM 1 but better than this).  In Web of Shadows they removed some of the little bits that made 2 so great (mostly they got rid of the little air tricks that made 2 feel like a Tony Hawk game) but it was probably THE most intuitive, simple and fun web slinging mechanic I've ever experienced.  It was just so easy to move around in Web of Shadows and make Spider-Man do what you wanted to do.  This movement system is just fucking garbage so far.  I can't get him to jack and I can't get the hang of alternating web hands.  This is mostly due to the fact that wall running and the right web are mapped to the same button and the game gets confused and doesn't know if you want to swing or run up a god damned (Batman) wall so it just kind of does both and cancels which ever one doesn't apply and it's made more problematic if you are using a left web at the time.  A couple of times this has lead me bouncing off a wall or, instead of just clearing a low rooftop, I stick to the corner and the camera and Spider-Man freak out.  As for the web rush mechanic, it's just broken.  I thought that in the first game and I still think that.  It takes me out of the action of the game, it doesn't make feel like I'm controlling Spider-Man at all and I think it eliminates other mechanics that I enjoyed more.

  All in all I hate going from place to place and getting around something like a fire to save civilians is a Herculean chore.  I've only done two of those and I never want to do another fucking one.  But I have to because of the new "Hero/Menace" mechanic.  Which, just, fuck you Beenox.  Fuck you, I'm trying to do these stupid fucking mission and I keep getting shot up and attacked, the game is actively cock blocking me from trying to accomplish anything.  Now all those little side missions have timers on them which may not have been a bad thing but they pop up and if you have a main mission objective Peter is just constantly "I should go do this.  I haven't done this.  I haven't been there in a while I should go there."  If your going to penalize me for not doing things than you could have made your controls more fluent so they aren't so fucking frustrating or shut up the playable character so I'm not constantly bothered by chatter.

  Also, I hear the clicking sound that indicates I can't shoot a web, I don't need Peter scolding me for trying to use a web where I can't.  It makes me feel like I'm drunkenly piloting a sentient robot.  I'm telling it to do something and it's just yelling at me that it can't do what I'm asking.

  Oh and the story, so far, isn't that engaging and nobody sounds like they are supposed to.  Granted I'm only a few hours into this but I'm also just a few hours into Prototype 2 and I'm engaged in that.  I took a break from that game to play Cold, Cold Heart and this.  I'm starting to wonder why.

  All in all, at this point, I regret spending fifty fucking dollars on this thing.  Look, I know it's early.  I know that it's too early to pass judgement but if you can't make your game fun within the first two hours, if I have to rage quit twice on the easiest setting and if I'm dreading playing the rest of the game that's not a good sign.  That's not the sign of a competently paced game.  I should be hooked by the first 15-20 minutes not revisiting shit that got resolved in the last game and movie.  And don't say that's bullshit.  I was hooked in the first 15-20 minutes of Arkham Asylum, Prototype 2, Crackdown and dozens of other games.

  I'll probably play it, or at least try to play it, until the end at which point I'll write a full review and give it a score but I'm really, really not optimistic about my experience.  This weekend I'll be at Wizard World so I won't be getting to it this weekend but hopefully soon.  As for now, if you were on the fence about this one, I'd put a skip on it or at least consider holding out for the bargain bin.  Go pick up Web of Shadows instead.

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