Tag Archive: black cat


Spider-Man No More

If you’re like me, Beenox is a developer still relatively fresh on your radar. Sure, they ported some Spider-Man games to the PC in the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until 2010’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions­, when the studio took point on the web-slinger’s gaming presence, that they really grabbed my attention. Since then, they’ve delivered three solid Spider-Man games in a row, a feat that hasn’t been done, in my opinion, since the LJN/Acclaim days. Unfortunately, it seems that all good things must come to an end, because Beenox’s latest, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is one of the worst Spider-Man games I’ve ever played.

Right from the get-go, the game may confuse more casual fans, since it’s not a true “movie tie-in.” Instead, you need to go back to Beenox’s first Amazing Spider-Man game. There, they didn’t follow Marc Webb’s first take on the character beat for beat, but rather continued the story of that movie: You played through the fallout of Dr. Curt Connors’ cross-species research and fought several new creatures that resulted from it. Since Sony Pictures seemingly wasn’t enamored with the idea of having their blockbuster movie franchise follow the story a game created, Beenox continued their story from The Amazing Spider-Man, thus crafting an alternate continuity from the films. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game, therefore, only has the loosest of tie-ins to the new movie in that Green Goblin and Electro are there (Rhino isn’t, because in Beenox’s Amazing Spider-Man universe, he’s a cross-species monster).

Still with me? Once you wrap your head around the multiverse idea, it’s not the worst thing that could’ve happened. This allows Beenox to still have a little creative freedom with the story and not be regimented to following a movie script. After the complicated setup, however, things quickly become mundane in regards to the narrative: Each chapter devolves into loosely tied-together boss battles. In fact, there’s barely any narrative cohesion, period. Most of the story relies on your ability to find audiotape collectibles instead of actually telling you as you progress through the game.

And the dialogue is some of the worst I’ve ever heard in a game, from both Spider-Man as well as his foes. My favorite was a thug screaming out “I like to hurt people!”—truly the bad-guy equivalent to “I like turtles” if I ever heard one. At the very least, the actors who deliver these miserable lines try the best they can with a script that clearly lacks any sort of entertainment value.

The weak narrative isn’t the only thing that makes this the worst Beenox Spider-Man yet; nearly every aspect of the gameplay is inferior to previous titles by the developer. The “menace” system, touted when the game was announced, is a joke. This is your typical “good guy/bad guy” meter that you see variations on in games like inFAMOUS and Mass Effect. As expected, it hinges on doing good deeds in the open world, or ignoring them and seeing the people’s view of you diminish. Only a handful of the same crimes repeat, however, so they become as boring as the boss battles. Meanwhile, there are usually so many going on at once that it’s a neverending uphill battle to keep Spidey from being viewed as a threat. The worst part is that all this has no influence on the narrative, and the reward for being lauded as a hero is minimal stat boosts and fewer enemies in the world. Why even bother at that point?

Also, going back to the boss battles for a brief moment, while it’s nice to see some of Spidey’s most iconic villains again in a videogame, the battles themselves are of the worst “rinse and repeat” variety, wherein the bosses don’t have more than two or three easily avoidable moves, causing you to repeat the same pattern over and over until you whittle away their health.

The developers also emphasized how much time you’d be spending in the open world this time around compared to the last Amazing Spider-Man game. That’s as blatant a lie as I’ve ever heard. There are just as many “dungeon” segments in Amazing Spider-Man 2 as there were in the previous game, and you probably spend even less time web-swinging down Manhattan’s concrete canyons than that one due to the shorter story. Beenox can do indoor sequences perfectly fine, as proven in previous games developed by them like Edge of Time and Shattered Dimensions, but when you stress that you’re going to keep players more in the open world, do it.

Speaking of web-swinging, though, this is the worst gameplay change. Talk about trying to fix something that wasn’t broken to begin with. I understand there’s a movement for “realism” in comics and games, but this is a story about a man who has spider-based powers fighting a man made out of electricity. The need to be grounded in reality isn’t necessary, but Beenox tried anyway and now web-swinging requires a solid surface to stick to. While this design has been done in games before, this iteration of Spider-Man’s Manhattan—already a bland and lifeless shell of the hustling, bustling metropolis—doesn’t lend itself well to this tweak. I’d often shoot my web at some ridiculous angle, if I could find one at all, in order to adhere to this rule. Thus, I never really got into a great rhythm with my web-swinging, which was especially frustrating during the game’s racing side missions, which require a lot more precision than the game allows.

But wait! There’s more! While it’s clear that the combat/counter system is a rip-off from the Batman: Arkham games, it seems Beenox couldn’t resist to steal a little more from the Dark Knight. Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees stealth rooms make an appearance, and they just reek of the “predator room” designs from Rocksteady’s games. And, like everything else in this game, they’re inferior in every way. Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense replaces Batman’s Detective Mode, and much like Arkham Asylum, players will run into the problem where they’ll feel like they never have to turn the power off. This means that even if the levels were beautifully designed (which they aren’t), they’d only see them in the red-and-blue hues this mode paints everything in. On top of all this, the combat upgrades from the first game have been simplified into only eight powers, with three upgrades each. So much for doing everything a spider can.

My final issues with the game come from the technical side of things: Glitches galore, folks. Not only are the character models bland—and only half a dozen of them are scattered throughout the game—but many of them love just vibrating themselves through walls, sidewalks, and rubble. Throw in three late-game crashes in the middle of boss battles, and I almost had enough to never look at this game again.

Despite the abject time I had playing the game, I was able to finish it, however, because flashes of the competency Beenox illustrated in their previous games do appear sporadically. These came in the form of tributes to some iconic moments from Spider-Man comics—like Cletus Kasady being wheeled into Ravencroft at the start of the Maximum Carnage storyline—that, as a lifelong fan, I understood and instantly recognized. But that only made me more frustrated, because it meant that Beenox had to know them, too, and yet they still let this miserable pile of data get stamped onto a disc and sent to stores. If you’re a Spidey fan, hope that Activision lets Beenox out from under this movie-licensing deal and gets them back to making original Spider-Man games.

Developer: Beenox • Publisher: Activision • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 04.29.14
2.5
Easily Beenox’s worst outing with the Spider-Man brand. Nearly every game system is a step backward from the previous three Spidey games—this one isn’t worth your time or effort.
The Good The story has its moments.
The Bad Web-swinging takes a huge step backwards, the “menace” system is a joke, and the dialogue made me want to stick a pencil in my ear.
The Ugly 40 years of comic book history was diluted down into a less than 10 hour game.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is available on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS, iOS, and Android. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Activision for the benefit of this review.

A solid week all around in terms of releases this week, but it was difficult to pick the best of the best as there were a lot of good comics, but not necessarily great comics. Interesting twists abound as plots are further forwarded, so let’s see how by taking a look at this week’s pullbox!

1) IDW – Ghostbusters #5: After saving Ray from the hands of another minion of Gozer, the Ghostbusters are forced to try to get into shape by William Peck to meet the same standards as the NYPD and other civil servants. Meanwhile, as Venkman and Peck trade classic barbs, a new paranormal entity is causing havoc in Schenectady, New York, having possessed an entire amusement park and only the Ghostbusters are qualified for the job.

I can’t praise Erik Burnham enough for being able to capture the humor and absurdity of the situations that we loved seeing in both the movies and cartoons that many of us grew up with in terms of the Ghostbusters. After a brilliant 4-issue story arc to start the series off, I can’t wait to see what he does next as many details about this new ghost are minimal besides the fact that we know it is pretty powerful. Not to mention I love the paranormal files at the back of the book outlining the powers and abilities of the ghosts we’re seeing to give some insight as if we were a part of the team.

2) DC – Batman #5: Batman is trying his best to fight against the mind games of the Court of Owls, but as he remains lost in the ending labyrinth beneath Gotham, the world above can only wonder and worry what happened to their constant protector.

Almost feeling like a filler issue as most of the issue is simply seeing the effects of what the Court of Owl’s mind games are doing to Batman, the tricks used in the book might actually start to screw with the reader as panels start going sideways and upside down and so as you start turning pages, you’re also turning the actual book. A nice way to really help the reader feel just how upside down Batman’s world is becoming. But we’ve seen Batman overcome mind games before, whether with the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh sub-personality or some other mental training exercise he’s been through so again this is why as much as I love most of Scott Snyder’s work on Batman, this is a bit more of a filler issue, no matter how much I love the rotating panels effect.

3) DC – Green Lantern Corps #5: With John Stewart and some other members of the Corps being tortured clear on the other side of the universe, Guy Gardner is rallying the troops on Oa to stage a rescue mission and bring it to the Keepers. And Gardner is calling in the big guns, specifically a group of Lanterns who redefine the term “tenured” and who don’t know how to pull their punches called “The Mean Machine”. But will even this grizzled group of veteran Lanterns be enough to save Lantern Stewart and the rest in time?

I really like how this issue is expanding the Lanterns a bit more and adding a bit more personality to Corps members outside of those from Earth. I also like that it’s getting Guy Gardner back to his no-holds-barred, dirty tricks, all about results roots as he will do anything to save his friends and you have to love that about this character. All in all, this is a really well-written issue as it looks to build up to an explosive confrontation between Guy and his group of semi-rogue Lanterns and the Keepers, whose awesome origin story as a new enemy of the Lantern Corps is also pretty sweet and is revealed this issue.

4) Marvel – Daredevil #8: The second part of a two-issue crossover with Amazing Spider-Man ends here as Black Cat, Spider-Man, and Daredevil hunt down the thieves of some cutting edge hologram technology. But ol’ Hornhead may have bitten off more than he can chew as it becomes a bit more personal with the Cat. But can her motives be trusted and if he can’t or can, I don’t think Daredevil’s radar sense would be able to figure it out anyway.

The personality that Daredevil gives off and the constant making fun of Spider-Man makes this a particularly great issue and sets itself up that Black Cat, at least for the next few issues, will likely be a guest star as the hologram technology only scratches the surface of what could be a larger and more innate plot with Hydra and other evil global organizations. No matter if you’re just getting into Daredevil or have been following this new series since the start though, this book is most likely Marvel’s best written overall monthly and it only continues with this issue.

5) Marvel – Generation Hope #15: After another mission to find one of her “lights”, Hope doesn’t realize she has actually brought the mind-wiped Sebastian Shaw back into the midst of the X-Men and Cyclops is not happy about it. The X-Men must now decide the fate of one of their once greatest enemies as he is a blank slate and looking for refuge in Utopia. Meanwhile, the rest of Hope’s team come head to head with some Morlock refugees who are furious over their second class status even amongst their fellow mutants.

There were a lot of great X-Men books this week, but the banter between Emma Frost and Hope Summers as they argued over the fate of Sebastian Shaw put this over the top for me. Absolutely hysterical as you see things start to come to a head in the Utopia War Room. Throw in the return of the Morlocks who have almost been forgotten about in Utopia and I think this could continue to be the most interesting of the X-books in the near future.

Originally Published: August 9, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

One of the most charming and long lasting impressions that you take away from Comic-Con is the pure love and devotion that people are willing to show by pouring hours on end into costumes just to go gallivanting around the Con for a few days. Some put more thought and effort in than others and some simply relish the opportunity to show off some of their finer…ummm…assets, but no matter what the reason behind it, cos-playing is one of those things that define the Con and is proof positive as to why this is the pop culture extravaganza that it is. On that note, here are some of our favorites that we saw while roaming the show floor.

1. Castle Crashers: CHARGE! When released in 2008 as part of the Xbox Summer of Arcade that year, few knew the intense following the simple side-scroller beat ‘em up Castle Crashers would encourage and these two gentlemen here are proof positive why it was a hit.

2.Catwoman: Puuurrrfect in every way, this femme fatale is a comic book staple for over 70 years now and is a favorite for female Con-goers everywhere representing the strong independent woman mindset. The authentic bullwhip also works as a deterrent for those of us who ogle too long.

3.Ghostbusters: Who ya gonna call?! Probably not these guys. It wouldn’t be a Comic-Con though without staples like Slave Leias, Stormtroopers, or a fearless foursome in brown jumpsuits. Including prop ghost traps and proton packs, these guys (and lady) are ready to believe you.

4. Black Cat: If this is what Black Cat looks like, you might have to question Peter Parker’s tastes for sticking with Mary Jane all those years when he had this waiting for him for a long while. Although rather harmless looking, this feisty feline knows where to hurt you the most.

5. Portal: Lacking in characters to cos-play as, did not act as a deterrent this year for Portal fans. This group found a way to put everyone in a costume with Chele, a pair of portals, and even a very lovely Companion Cube. They all deserve some cake for their efforts.

6. CoD Sniper: As the world rushes by him, the quiet and calm sniper stays hidden in the brush, waiting patiently for his target to finally enter his sights. Holding my breath, I quickly squeezed the trigger when this Sniper wandered into my sights due to the great effort put into his costume.

7. Waldo: Where is he? Right here. And I found his girlfriend, too. I always was very good at those books. I wonder just how much they actually blended in though once they made it through the Con doors and mingled amongst the huge crowds.

8. Army of Two: You can tell cos-players take their craft seriously when you ask them for a picture and they strike a pose relevant to the characters they are portraying. Unfortunately for them, the Call of Duty Sniper from earlier is off camera ready to take them both out.

9. Female Assassin: A huge fan favorite this year was people dressed as Assassin’s Creed characters. The fan turnout was rewarded by Ubisoft as those who dressed as AC characters and attended their Saturday panel, like our female assassin here, were promised free autographed Signature Editions of Revelations when released.

10. Princess Peach: Not the most traditional Peach, but if this is what is always awaiting Mario, no wonder why he keeps going through eight castles for her and that Bowser won’t stop kidnapping her. If your choice was this girl or weird little mushroom people, well, is it really a choice then?

11. Street Fighter: Another group shot, these folks decided to take on the guise of several protagonists from the Street Fighter series including fan favorites like Chun-Li, Ryu, and Blanka. They sure let themselves go since Super Street Fighter IV was released though, haven’t they?

Originally Published: December 6, 2010, on youtube.com/cgrundertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for the Nintendo Wii from Activision.