The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

It’s Like the Movie … With 800% More Cross-Breeds

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)I found myself terribly torn by today’s game.  There have been games like the one that I’m reviewing today that were some of the most fun and enjoyable experiences that I can remember in gaming, and others still that reached the level of mediocrity at best.  When this game came out, it looked to be a return to form for the series, but I still had my trepidations.  I wasn’t prepared to waste $60 for a game like the most recent few, and I just wasn’t interested in taking the risk.  I put it on my Gamefly queue instead, and eventually it arrived.  Interested to see which type of game it resembled more, I started playing The Amazing Spider-Man, developed by Beenox, published by Activision, and featuring the voices of Sam Riegel, Nolan North, Kari Wahlgren, Steven Blum, Claudia Black, Ali Hillis, Bruce Campbell, Fred Tatasciore, and Stan Lee.

A few months after a mediocre film was made about him, Peter Parker (Sam Riegel) and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Kari Wahlgren) sneak into restricted areas of Oscorp to find Alistair Smythe (Nolan North) attempting to clean up after Dr. Curt Connors’ (Steven Blum) experimentation with cross-species DNA, making him into a giant Lizard and Peter into a man of spider.  Well, the man-spidering of his DNA does not go unnoticed by the other hybrid creatures in the facility, and it causes them to break from their bondage and attack the facility.  Gwen gets bitten in the process and she is quarantined along with Smythe and others to quell the infection.  Desperate to find a cure for Gwen, Peter frees Dr. Connors and sets him to work creating a cure while he tries to capture the freed cross-breeds before the infection gets out of control.

So what’s the final decision?  Was this game a return to the free roaming Spider-Man that I loved, or is it another mediocre addition to the series?  The answer is “Yes.”  It’s both.  The bulk of the game felt pretty average, but there’s no denying that I’m a fan of the free roaming parts, and I’m very thankful they went back to that.  The bulk of the story was pretty mundane, much like the movie that spawned it.  In fact, the story of the game is very similar to the movie, at least the part that pertains to Dr. Connors.  And since that story alone had already been told and it was necessary to prolong the story of the game, it seems that they just took that part and added more creatures.  And since they didn’t have that many creatures in the canon that fit the bill, they just turned the other characters with various origin stories into cross-breeds, like Rhino.  Another thing it had in common with the movie was that Spider-Man’s trademark quips never really landed.  Spider-Man is supposed to have killer one-liners, man!  That’s something you just gotta get right.  I would say that the occasion when they worked the most was in most of the interactions between Spider-Man and the reporter.  Altogether, the story didn’t really offer that much, but I can’t say that it was awful.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the look of the game.  It looks really good and I had scant few complaints about it.  What complaints I might have is that the faces never looked realistic, but the rest of the stuff in the game looked so good and set the mood so well that it made up for it.  Also, I’m beginning to think that there’s a very good chance I’d be able to make it around New York without a GPS because of these free-roaming Spider-Man games and their attention to detail in making New York as accurate as they can.  I would be looking for a collectable and see that it was located in Time Square or Central Park or other random places, and I knew where they were without having to look that up, even though I’ve never been to New York.  Well, I might not be able to make it around the city unless I was swinging through it on webs, but I might be able to translate that into walking.

The free-roaming stuff was really what sold this game to me the most.  I missed that aspect of the Spider-Man games so much.  The last three Spider-Man games I remember playing were all really linear, and that just made my penis soft.  That doesn’t feel like Spider-Man!  It doesn’t feel right to just be Spider-Man just after he showed up at a museum or a linear back alley and making me follow a straight line to the boss at the end.  So this game had that much going for it.  It also had boss battles, and I appreciated those because they all felt really epic, even though they really weren’t much more than quick time button pressing events.  There wasn’t a whole lot to the other fights either.  A lot of pressing X to punch faces, and occasionally pressing B to finish someone.

The achievements in this game are not entirely difficult, but they can be fairly time consuming, extremely tedious, and inevitably I gave up with about 800.  There are 700 comic books to collect in the city of New York, and finding them is not helped by the fact that every one that Spidey picks up causes him to say something that sounds like a sales pitch for comic books.  Things like “Cover price went up, but still worth it.”  But these weren’t that bad for me because I enjoyed swinging around the city aimlessly.  But there were also magazines to find inside the linear levels, and I didn’t have the patience to go back in for those.  I also wasn’t interested enough in the game to try to go back for the second playthrough on Hard.  But still, 800 is close enough for a game I rented for 3 days.

I was happy to see that Amazing Spider-Man returned the Spider-Man games to their beloved past of free-roaming games, but this outing still ending up being expectedly mediocre.  The story was nothing special, the fights were easy, and they went way overboard with the collectables, but there is a good amount of enjoyment to be gained from swinging around New York as the be-webbed one.  I’d say there’s enough in this game that it’s worth a go, but probably not until you can find it for around $20.  The Amazing Spider-Man gets “The Vermin” out of “The Rhino.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Prototype 2 (2012)

Just Like All Diseases, It Starts With a Little Man-on-Man.

I have a vague recollection of playing the first game in this series, but I’m pretty sure I got really bored halfway through and stopped playing.  I remember not being particularly impressed with the story and, more often than not, frustrated by the controls, so I just decided it wasn’t worth it.  When they made a sequel to that game, I noted its existence but never felt any more interested in playing it than that.  When my coworker Captain Hookah told me that he had the game if I wanted to borrow it, I still didn’t really care to play it.  But I figured, if nothing else, I’d get a review out of it.  And I did!  And here it is!  This is my review for Prototype 2, developed by Radical Entertainment, designed by Matt Armstrong, published by Activision, and starring the voices of Cornell Womack, Darryl Kurylo, Lindsay Ames, Tara Lynne Barr, Ivan Basso, Melissa Disney, and Daniel Reardon.

After the events of the first Prototype game, James Heller (Cornell Womack) has lost his wife and daughter to a virus released by the main character of the first game, Alex Mercer (Darryl Kurylo).  Heller sets out with the military force called Blackwatch to try to kill Mercer, but instead gets infected by Mercer and starts becoming more like him, able to shapeshift his body to turn his arms into weapons, or even change his entire appearance into another person.  With this new ability and the help of a few people around town, Heller moves between the three infected zones in town, fighting other infected and military people as he tries to get closer to Alex Mercer.

Well, it’s apparently too late to review this game.  According to Wikipedia, Radical Entertainment went under as a result of the disappointing sales of this game.  If I had to hazard a guess as to why, it would probably be because this game isn’t that good.  It’s not bad, but you had better be offering me a lot if you expect me to shell out $60 bucks for your game, and this game just doesn’t bring it.  The story is nothing special.  I did appreciate that they give you a video recap of what happened in Prototype, but it felt somewhat unnecessary.  I figured it out from what they mentioned in the course of this game, and it’s not like the story of the first game was that complicated.  It was roughly the same thing except I wasn’t Alex Mercer this time, I was a black guy trying to kill him.  It started differently, and in a little more realistic fashion.  I mean, we all know that all major diseases start with a little guy on guy action, right?  Well that’s how Heller gets it, with Mercer fisting him … in the stomach.  After that, the story never really feels like it’s very much more than just running back and forth between checkpoints, eating someone to take their form, and then killing everyone on the way out.  The actual story itself has very little by way of surprises, and most of the dialogue is just bad.  It’s mostly just Heller finding different ways to say, “I’m going to kill you,” without bothering with cleverness and wit.  I also don’t know why they felt the need to change the main character on us.  They control basically the same, and I liked Mercer’s look way better.  Heller just looks like Jax from Mortal Kombat.  Also, I’m a racist, so I just want to play the white guy.  In truth, they didn’t really make Heller out to be the smartest kind of person.  He mainly just comes off like a big, dumb goon that smashes things.  There’s an entire part in the game where he has no idea how to work a computer.  But that’s fine if all he wants to do is smash things and not talk about it.  How well did he smash things?

Heller smashed things fairly well.  You have a decent variety of ways to smash things.  His arms can turn into claws, fists, a sword, a whip, or tendrils.  He can also use a variety of guns.  The problem with all of this is that it gets a little repetitive fairly quickly.  Once you get the whip, any smaller enemies around you are defeated in one hit.  Once you get finishers, all vehicles are destroyed in two buttons.  Much as with other games, I liked the free running aspects of this game.  I don’t know what it is about free running in open worlds that does it for me, but it does.  The problem with this game is that any semblance of precision is right out the window, and only gets worse as your speed and movement evolves through the game.  This only really became an issue when you had to do the missions where you had to come at least close to little crates (but let’s just call them checkpoints because this was only a thinly veiled race mission).  I would typically jump too high or my dash would lead into a glide that would make me sail right over the area I was aiming at, but it wasn’t that much of an issue.  Something that did get on my nerves was how they would change the powers I had selected each time one of them evolved.  I would typically roll around with claws and whip as my powers as I didn’t find the other ones that useful, but every time one of them would level up, the game would automatically change to it, fucking up my whole power scheme right before I had to fight someone.  I assume you want me to experiment, game, but don’t force it on me.  The tutorials in the game also wore on my nerves.  It made me think the developers had very little faith in their gamers.  They would not only tell you what move you just learned or are about to need, but they force you to use it and slow down the pace of the game so you can get it through your head.  Then it might come up a few dozen more times as they think you need to be reminded of the things you’ve been using regularly.

There’s not much to say about the look of the game.  It looks good.  I found no problems with the look.  One thing I liked even more than the usual was the cinematic scenes.  They were stupidly-written as was everything else, but I enjoyed the look of the black and white scenes with only the red having color.  It was like you were watching Schindler’s List and you were about to kill that little bitch that was running around, bragging about how she has a super sweet red coat and everyone else is naked.  Or maybe I was reading something into the movie that wasn’t there…

The achievements in the game are pretty friendly.  I was able to get 100% on the game within a week’s time.  All that you need to do is basically beat the game once, getting all the collectables and side missions, then play the game again via New Game + so that you retain your abilities so that you can finish leveling up, not to mention making the Hard playthrough a piece of cake.  They’re mostly pretty fun to get as well, as long as the game’s repetitiveness hasn’t gotten to you yet.  After that, it’s mostly just killing things until an achievement dings.

Prototype 2 is a decent enough game, but it certainly doesn’t prove itself worthy of $60.  The story is entirely simplistic and the gameplay – though enjoyable – can get repetitive and tended to cause me to play for not much more than an hour at a time.  The best part of the game is the look and the achievements.  Nothing negative to be said about the look, and you can get 100% on achievements in less than a week.  It’s worth a play if you can find it in the $20 range.  Prototype 2 gets “Fun, but a little repetitive” out of “Fun, but a little repetitive.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

X-Men: Destiny (2011)

It Will End in Extinction – For Your Species, or For Mine

Let’s get back to the mediocre! I don’t want the review of a comic book game that is so awesome as Batman: Arkham City to go to your heads. Let’s go to my favorite comic book company (Marvel) and my favorite comic book franchise (X-Men) and the most mediocre comic book game I played this year. That is X-Men: Destiny, brought to us by Silicon Knights and Activision.

We start in San Francisco, as one of three brand new characters (Aimi Yoshida, Grant Alexander, or Adrian Luca) in the crowd of a peace rally in memory of recently deceased Professor X. The rally is attacked by an unknown magnetic force and our character’s powers manifest, allowing us to choose from 3 different power sets. We decide to use those powers to clear the city of an anti-mutant group called the Purifiers, mainly because that’s more interesting than the alternative decision of going home and seeing how it turns out on TV. Along the way, you meet various mutant members of the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants who try to get you to take their side on missions. You eventually come to China Town to meet Gambit who helps you find a secret lab where they’re synthesizing mutant powers. You later find out Bastion, the robot from the future that killed Professor X, is behind the whole thing, and you decide whether you want to side with the X-Men or the Brotherhood, and the game ends with a whimper. The choices you make along the way don’t really matter. You just get a different ending video depending on if you went X-Men or Brotherhood.

I find that I typically judge in favor of an X-Men property, so if you don’t have the same bias, feel free to take everything I say and subtract 2. This game is not very good. Minus 2. It’s a pretty basic hack-and-slash action adventure with some role-playing aspects thrown in. As with most hack-and-slash games, you will typically spend most of your time pressing X. As you defeat your enemies, they will explode into yellow orbs that serve as your experience points. With these you can upgrade your 4 moves, and a series of suits and modifiers that you find along the way. These things can usually add abilities like healing, increased attacks, and flight that can be moderately helpful, but you’ll probably be fine without it. The game is pretty easy. The enemies usually don’t require any special tactics. Even the bosses don’t require much by way of tactics, or even my full attention most of the time. The only boss battle I found annoying was one with someone called John Sublime. He injects himself with the powers of Colossus, Quicksilver, and Surge. The reason he was so annoying is that you had to fight him in three sections with no health available in between, so you better do it right the first time or else you’ll have to play a lame boss battle multiple times. And having him come at you in three sections make it seem like he’s the final boss battle, and that got my hopes up that the game was almost over.

Graphically, this game is pretty substandard. The parts that you play are pretty average, but the cutscenes are awful. I don’t know how they take such a step down for the part that most people choose to make their game look better, but these guys did it. They looked like I was playing this game on the Wii or something. Oooooo NINTENDO BURN! There were only a few actual cutscenes in the game though; most of them used the regular game engine and didn’t look that bad. A lot of the characters were captured pretty well. I always played as the Asian chick Aimi because I’d rather be the cool looking, hot, Asian girl than the nondescript white guy or the big dumb doofus. Most of the actual Marvel characters turned out pretty well. Emma Frost was hot, Gambit was awesome, Magneto was badass, most of them looked pretty good. Mystique was a bit off though. It seemed like her hair was bigger than her head, and she had a pore problem. Also, Nightcrawler’s costume was a little wacky and unlike any version of his costume I’ve seen in the comics. Most of the characters were pretty unchanged from what you see in the comics though. They did choose to change up Magneto’s outfit into something that looked more like armor, which seems unnecessary because Magneto already looks awesome. There were also a couple of things that they got pretty lazy with on the graphics. For example, three of the bosses in the game are the exact same giant robot thing in different colors, and one of those bosses is the final boss of the game. As a gamer, I’m used to the regular enemies throughout the level being the same model in different colors, but you should at least have imagination enough for your bosses. For other things graphically, the camera can act up from time to time and get you killed, but it happened relatively infrequently, and I would’ve appreciated the ability to skip the awful cutscenes on my second playthrough.

The sound is actually a good thing in this game. Not so much the sound effects or music, but the voice acting is actually good. They’re all pretty much exactly what I imagine the character would actually sound like. Wolverine has the gruff growl that you would expect him to, Quicksilver talks too fast, and Gambit has a great Cajun accent with a lot of charisma to it. Colossus’ accent was a little over the top and annoying, and Pixie’s voice actor chose not to try a Welsh accent at all, but they were mostly good.

One other good thing about this game is the achievements. It’s a pretty damned easy game to get 1000 out of 1000. I rented the game from RedBox and got it back to them in 24 hours, 1000 points richer and a better person. Do one playthrough on easy and the last level on hard, and there’s only a couple more to scrape up. And there are much worse games you could play with harder achievements. If you want them chievos, you can dip into this mediocre game for 1000, but don’t bother buying it. I think it’s still $60 and it’s WAY not worth that. I only paid 3 for it. That’s about right. I think this game only really served to make me really want another, good, X-Men Legends game. But that’s not what this was. So X-Men: Destiny gets “Aw…bummer” out of “I WANT MORE X-MEN LEGENDS!”

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