Thursday, 6 February 2014

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows part 4 - Gameplay

I do wonder if I've laid out this series of article in the right order. I've talked about the story, look and presentation, and only now getting round to the Gameplay of a videogame! Maybe this writing thing isn't for me.

The gameplay is a mixed bag. As mentioned, there is a big assortment of opponents to fight, and you fight them on the ground, in the air, or on the sides of buildings, and there are unique attack sequences for each of these three phases and within that, unique combos for each suit. For instance, the Black Suit is very powerful fighting on the ground, as it is stronger and attacks with symbiotic tentacles and tendrils, however, its air attacks are limited. The Red Suit is fairly slow on the ground and doesn't look impressive, however, a quick uppercut, and once in the air, the red suit can unleash an arsenal of punches and kicks that bring him close to the enemy and then knock them all the way down the street.

The variety of attacks is very large and the moves are very satisfying, such as the Black Suit's "Beatdown" to the Red Suit's "Windmill" attack. However, the coolest, most used attack is the webstrike (even though it will snap your wrists). Flick the remote to one side, and spidey will jump into the air and yank himself towards an enemy. Flick the remote or press a button at the right time, and spidey will deliver a devasting hit. This attack can be chained, so that you bounce from opponent to opponent, whether in the air or on the ground and do lots of damage. It takes some practise to get the timing right (and the tutorial where you perfect this timing will have you pulling your hair out) but the attack is just visually satisfying and is an attack that feels very... "Spider-Man-esque" shall we say. As game critic Yahtzee Croshaw mentions in his review of the game, it basically makes all the other attacks useless:

The game also includes a "hit counter" so you can see how long a combo of uninterrupted attacks you can chain together. This is pretty awesome, and it isn't that hard to reach into the 100+ combo. You feel like a real superhero being able to chain together a long combination without getting hit once, and you can challenge yourself to try and get as many hits as possible. To help with this, enemies won't evaporate (they haven't died of course, as this is a kid's game) until you stop hitting them, so you can continue a combination on a downed opponent for another 10 or so hits until you get bored.

This huge variety of attack combinations and move lists is very important, as it makes up for one of the games big flaws. The game is repetitive. So... so... repetitive. You attack bad guys, and you will not stop attacking bad guys. Beat up bad guys in one street, swing away and then come back, and a new set of bad guys will have spawned. The missions in the game consist of "beat X number of bad guys" followed by "beat XX number of same bad guys." Seriously. It's the same thing over and over. Rinse and bloody repeat.

And do you know why there are so many of the same bad guys? To lengthen the game, because it is essentially a very easy game. Apart from boss fights, there is little chance you will die. Your health regenerates very quickly, the attacks of the grunts only removes a sliver of health, while your attacks remove big chunks. In some ways, I was happy with this. I mean, you're Spider-Man! You shouldn't get killed by basic grunts! The fact that you don't die will make you feel more like a badass superhero, instead of dieing and having to repeat a section.

But despite that rather positive outlook, it's hard not to say the game play is poor. Compared to the combat system in the Batman: Arkham games, which can be punishing but still gives the player the sense that they are an unstoppable superhero,  this Spider-Man game is woefully lacking

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