Tag Archive: kingpin


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.

As part of the Marvel Video Games panel Saturday at San Diego ComicCon, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game director Arthur Parsons revealed a plethora of the 150 characters that look to inhabit TT Games’ LEGO-fied Marvel Universe.

A special focus was given to the heavies, the hulking brutes who are far larger than most LEGO characters and were given their own trailer (embedded below). In it we see the Blob, Rhino, Kingpin, Lizard, Colossus, the Thing, and the Juggernaut join the likes of the Hulk and Abomination. We even catch a brief glimpse of Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor in LEGO form.

Parsons had more up his sleeve at Comic-Con, playing a slideshow that a whole host of other Marvel characters set to make their LEGO debut. This list included the likes of:

  • Dr. Doom
  • Jean Grey
  • Beast
  • Gambit
  • Storm
  • Elektra
  • Magneto
  • Vulture
  • Silver Samurai
  • Punisher
  • Green Goblin
  • Iron Patriot (pre-order bonus)
  • Squirrel Girl
  • Sabertooth
  • Deadpool
  • Howard the Duck

And to cap off the cast additions, Parsons revealed that some Marvel execs, including the legendary Stan Lee (who then appeared on stage to arguably the loudest applause of the entire Con) would also appear in the game.

At the heartfelt behest of a young boy, Parsons also revealed that Doctor Strange had made the cut, and mentioned that Troy Baker will be playing Loki, Clark Gregg will reprise his role of Agent Coulson, and Nolan North returns to the character of Deadpool.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes’ brick-building mayhem commences on the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, 3DS, DS, PS Vita, and Wii U this fall (sometime later for Xbox One and PS4). Excelsior!

Herc #2 Review

Originally Published: May 4, 2011, on Comicvine.com

A mortal Hercules will have his hands full with the Hobgoblin and a pouch filled to the brim with pumpkin bombs. Can the Lion of Olympus and his enchanted arsenal take down the pilfered tech of this hooded horror?

The Good

Herc #2 features epic action from cover to cover. With the Hobgoblin pulling out new goodies from that pouch of his to hold Herc at bay, Herc needs to use his mind as much as his limited remaining might to overcome his foe while also protecting the damsel he accidentally put in distress at a Brooklyn construction site. Swords, arrows, and pumpkin bombs fly for more than a dozen pages before Herc gets the upper-hand.

Combine this with the Kingpin making his first in-person appearance of the series and you know that this is just the beginning of Herc’s non-Olympus related problems.

The Bad

The overall plot for this opening story arc that finds Herc in Brooklyn to find his followers and quash the Ares uprising progressed a little more slowly than I would have liked. Also, the end reveal of who Herc’s foe really is means that his Olympus related problems are separate from this business with the Kingpin, which will likely be put on hold for some issues, but that the action is just getting started and business is about to pick up!

The Verdict

A lot of great action coupled with a great villain reveal at the end of this issue has Herc shaping up to be one of the best new series to come out in a long time. I can’t wait for each new issue each month and because of the villains who have popped up here in just the first two issues allows me to forgive the plot for moving along a bit more slowly than you would expect at the launch of a new monthly.

If you haven’t picked up the first issue of this series, then go get it and then pick this up so you can join the rest of us as we wait with baited breath for the next action packed issue of Herc’s new adventures as the number one champion/bartender of Brooklyn.

Herc #1 Review

Originally Published: April 6, 2011, on Comicvine.com

After the Chaos War, Hercules is left powerless and now stands before us a mere mortal. But this Champion of Olympus is out to prove there is a lot more to being a hero than superpowers.

The Good

From the opening pages, Hercules reminds us that even without powers, he can be a formidable hero as he still wields many of the weapons he used in his Greek heyday like the Sword of Peleus and the Shield of Perseus. And just how he implements them is something you have to see to truly appreciate.

After opening by saving a girl on the subway in Brooklyn from a street gang, Herc continues to wander around his new mortal home, just kicking bad guy butt all along the way, until he happens onto a restaurant owner who is trying to be strong armed by goons working for the Kingpin. Herc steps in and saves the day once more and foreshadows that this won’t be the last time he hears from the Kingpin, already establishing a clear villain base as Herc looks to settle into Brooklyn of all places and find a real job, very reminiscent of Ares when he was trying to live a mortal life with his son.

Very well-written as Herc still has his infamous sense of humor about him, full of non-stop action, the foreshadowing of much larger things to come, and the surprise return of a villain who has been killed off more times than I count, this first issue is a very strong foundation for this new series.

The Bad

If you haven’t been following Herc or the Chaos War, you might want to research a little to get yourself caught up to speed on everything and just why this once demi-god turned full god is now just a mortal.

Also, with the revelation of the Kingpin trying to buy up property that Herc is staying in and the return of a classic villain at the end of the issue, the conflict is very clear and feels almost like an old-school Daredevil or Spider-Man comic instead of Hercules’ own unique adventure.

The Verdict

If you have been following Herc up to this point and enjoying it then you are going to love what happens to him in this first issue of his own monthly. Full of lots of action that already paints a vivid picture of how Herc will find himself caught in the middle of a struggle between man and god, Herc #1 is one of the most fun and entertaining first issues for a comic I’ve read in a while. If issue two is as good as this first one, I’m definitely putting this in the pull box.