So, it would seem Spiderman has a new permanent developer. Beenox has been granted the rights to make the next few Spiderman games, and I am torn. While Activision's reasoning seems to be sound, I feel the decision to give it to them may have been a mistake. Maybe.
Don't get me wrong, I think Beenox is a very talented and focused developer, and their games consistently show a level of polish and detail that anyone would be blind not to notice. No, it's not their prowess that bothers me. And, it's not their last game, either. Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions was a well-executed, fitting homage to the wallcrawler and in many ways, the most logical direction for them to go being their first, major foray into developing a big-budget Spiderman game. Nope, not the last game. My problem actually stems from the most recent big-budget Spiderman game they didn't develop.
Spiderman: Web of Shadows was a testament to the viability of a Spiderman game as a major, defining part of the gaming landscape. It took most of the best ideas from previous Spidey games and infused them into a delightful opportunity for gamers to see what it feels like to be Spiderman.
No, this is not a fanboy rant. Notice in the above statement I said "most". I believe S:WoS committed heinous acts of blatant disregard for aspects of Spiderman gameplay that many Spidey fans consider to be essential, if not mandatory. Web lines should always connect to buildings. Dual web lines are to Spiderman what butter is to bread. And, giving Spidey flame-based punches and kicks is an act of treason.
Yet, there was much more done correctly than not. Take, for instance, the locomotion system. Varying animations for firing and releasing web lines based on what you're doing. Vertical and horizontal wallruns and slides, with different web zip animations for each type. And fluid, gorgeous animations for leaping, falling, running and swinging with smooth transitions between them. Watching a skilled player maneuver through the city is almost more entertaining than playing yourself. Speaking of cities...
The biggest thing I feel Shaba games (which has been closed, BTW) did right with S:WoS was retain the open-world nature of the gameplay. No other character possess the specific type of movement Spiderman is capable of, and only an open-world environment correctly allows for that. Spiderman remains an icon of heroism, alongside Superman and Batman, and his environment is a direct reflection of that. Making Spiderman a linear, non-open-world game is as silly as making a Superman game with no sky to fly around, or a Batman game with no detective work. Which, unfortunately, has been done.
But, this is actually a compliment to Beenox because they made a non-open-world Spidey game work. Which takes skill and focus, just like Treyarch did the first time. But, there's also a reason Treyarch moved to an open-world game. It's the purest form of Spiderman there is, and if we can't recognize that, Spiderman:Web of Shadows may be the end of an era.
Now, I've read that Beenox actually wants to eventually go open-world on a future game. But, we all know who decides whether that happens. Us. With our opinions and dollars. I've read countless posts about how Shattered Dimensions is the way to go, and away with open-world and all that. And, I've also read complaints about the shoddy swing system in that game as well.
But, something more tangible caught my attention. When I walk through the game retailers, all I see is stacks of Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions, and nobody buying. At the same time, Spiderman: Web of Shadows is sold out, nowhere to be found. And, you wouldn't belive how many people ask about it. Not to mention the bystanders that chime in about how awesome it is when it's name is mentioned. Is it because everyone already has S:SD and S:WoS isn't being produced anymore? Or is it something else?
I think it's a case of longevity. Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions is awesome. But, how many times are you going to play it? And, how easy is it to go back to Spiderman: Web of Shadows and swing? Just swing?
Hopefully the next Spiderman is as awesome as we all hope it will be. But, I just hope Beenox goes with their gut and does what Rocksteady has done with Batman. Respect the character, and retain the essence of who that character is, in aesthetics and gameplay.
End of rant.