Spider-Man 3 First Look
We get an exclusive first look at Activision and Treyarch's upcoming movie game starring the amazing Spider-Man.
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With Sony's Spider-Man 3 swinging its way to theaters this May, there's been a fair amount of curiosity about Activision's upcoming game based on the anticipated flick. Little has been seen of the game since Activision showed off a teaser trailer at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, which showcased the wallcrawler's character model. Now that more info is known on what director Sam Raimi has cooking for the epic third installment in the series, expectations for the game have grown exponentially. Given the cool factor of a film that follows the wallcrawler's struggle against the Sandman, the Green Goblin, and a certain ebon goo that has some interesting effects on his trademark suit, a game based on all that has some pretty big shoes to fill. We recently had the chance to take a trip down to developer Treyarch, who is developing the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 incarnations of the multiplatform game, to get an exclusive look at how it's shaping up.
While the task of making a movie-inspired game that captures the essence of a hero movie is a daunting one, developer Treyarch has had plenty of time to build up its chops for its latest Spidey project. The Southern California-based developer's work on the previous two movies' games, as well as the slick Ultimate Spider-Man, has proven that Treyarch knows itself some Spider-Man. For this latest Spidey game, the team is refining the open-world approach it took with Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man by adding some very cool new twists to the action. The game will once again feature a story that uses the film's narrative as a base, but it also adds in original elements and material taken from the comics to buff up the narrative and fill out a game.
At the center of the action is Spider-Man's battle against the Sandman and a new Green Goblin. The stakes for the clash are much higher, as the tortured hero must come to grips with the fact that before the accident that transforms him into Sandman, petty thief Flint Marko was involved in the death of Peter Parker's uncle. Then, of course, there's the new Green Goblin--old chum Harry Osborn, who still blames Spider-Man for the death of his father, Norman, the original Green Goblin. As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a mysterious blob of goo that winds up attaching itself to our hero, which enhances his powers and gives his costume a dark makeover that's more than cosmetic.
In addition to the faithful adherence to the movie's action, Spider-Man 3 will feature several different narrative threads you'll be able to follow as you play. There should be roughly 10 plot threads in the game. The stories will range from movie content to original material created for the game that will include big-time villains not seen in the movie, such as the Scorpion and common criminals such as three gangs created to cause Spidey trouble, to name just a few. You'll have a great deal of freedom in how you tackle the various plotlines, as the city and the various challenges are all open to you from the outset of the game. If you want to follow the main path through the game and mirror the action in the movie, you can go ahead and stick to those missions.
However, if you want to get the full experience, you can follow every story path and get yourself a 100 percent completion bonus, which yields a cool unlockable that's just one of the many surprises Treyarch is packing into the game. (Alas, we can't reveal what that secret goodie is just now.) While this may sound like a lot to keep track of, and it is, the 3D city map makes it cake to pick and choose what you do. You'll be able to call it up and see the entirety of the city, including icons that show the different events you can participate in. You can mark where you want to go on the map and then follow a handy arrow that guides the way when you're back in the game.
One of the other handy uses for the map is keeping track of crime. When you're checking out the massive aerial view of New York, you'll see areas highlighted in red that show high crime areas. If you're feeling like a Boy Scout, you can head over to the trouble areas and deal with whatever shenanigans are going down. If you're not feeling very helpful, you can ignore the areas; but be warned, you're going to have to put the smack down on crime at some point, and the longer you put it off, the more trouble you'll have to deal with later. Cleaning up crime increases a stat in the game dubbed "CSI," or citizen satisfaction index, which affects your standing with the public. If you're doing a good job keeping things safe and sane, you'll have lots of fans; if you shirk your duties, don't expect to have many fans. The crimes you'll be dealing with will be more varied than in the previous games, so anyone afraid they'll be stuck helping legions of whining kids who have randomly lost their stinking balloons can breathe a sigh of relief.
You'll deal with your various foes and crimes by relying on a varied array of moves, as well as Spidey's unique arachnid abilities, all of which have been enhanced in a number of different ways. The most significant "enhancement" is actually a new way to play, courtesy of the new black suit. While you'll still play through a fair chunk of the game in Spidey's familiar red, webby long johns, you'll be able to make use of the powerful black suit for a stretch, as well. The red suit will play in much the same way as it has in the previous games. You'll sling webs, melee, stick to walls, perform massive leaps, use your spider reflexes to get out of harm's way, and make use of super moves to deal with your foes. The combat system has been tricked out with more moves, adding a ton of new aerial and web combos to the mix as well as super moves.
In keeping with its more ominous look and origins, the black suit will offer more aggressive ways to deal with crime. Though you'll essentially be able to perform the same set of moves you can perform in your red duds, they're considerably more powered up. As a result, a basic red-suit move like lassoing and spinning around an enemy with your web is pumped up and now grabs several enemies and causes more damage. One key difference is the suit's rage meter, which replaces the red outfit's super meter. The black suit's rage meter will fill as you're hit and perform combos, or when you manually pump the controller's shoulder buttons. Once your meter is full, you'll be supercharged and do massive amounts of damage.
The spider reflex also works slightly differently when you're in the black suit, as you'll move faster while enemies move at a normal pace, letting you do even more damage. Spidey's spider sense is implemented in a new way in Spider-Man 3. Rather than working in tandem with the spider-reflex mechanic, you'll use the ability to track enemies. By using a shoulder button, you'll shift your view and see enemies as bright-red forms against a grey-hued world. Spider-Man 3 will also feature interactive sequences a la God of War dubbed "cineractives," which will prompt you for controller motions. The interactive cinemas keep you in the game while moving the story along and seem to be a good fit from what we've seen.
We were able to check out a few areas in the game in a guided demo that showcased the red outfit, the black suit, how the cineractives work, and some of the enemies you'll face. The first part of the demo opened up with Spidey standing on top of a building looking out over the city. The view was impressive, thanks to a far draw distance. When Spidey finally moved and leapt down to the city, the massive 1,500-foot drop was slickly presented. We were able to see some webswinging and combat with the red suit, which looked like we expected, albeit a good deal shinier.
The second part of the demo showed off a cineractive and found Peter Parker in a life-and-death struggle with the Green Goblin. Besides looking cool, the sequence was a first for the Spider-Man games, as traditionally Spidey doesn't fight out of costume. Another element to the sequence that was interesting was that Peter is dropped off in a random area at the end of the fight, depending on how you've done at inputting controller motions.
Following that demo, we got a peek at one of the gangs you'll be facing in the game, the Dragontails. After a short story sequence, Spidey must contend with some grenade-launcher-toting thugs who were eager to blow him up. The sequence showed off the buffed-out melee system in action, which now features a much flashier look to combat, thanks to the variety of moves.
The next part of the demo showed off a villain not from the movie, Scorpion, who's been given a makeover in the game to keep him in line with the look of the villains. The sequence also hinted at one of the subplots you'll be following, which focuses on a company called Mechabiocon. Apparently, the company works some mind-control mojo on the Scorpion and sends him on a destructive tear. Besides fighting him in a cineractive, the sequence has Spidey racing to keep up with him in a chase sequence through the city.
The final two parts of the demo showcased the black suit and its abilities. The first part finds Spidey roughing up some thugs, thanks to the boost afforded by the suit. The sequence showed off the amplified abilities of the suit and the slight differences in the enemies you face. We noticed that the enemies encountered while you're in the black suit tended to mob more, offering ample opportunity to use the suits extra power to take out the trash in spectacular fashion. The second demo showed off a wicked fight between Spidey and the Sandman amid subway trains, and it offered some cineractive moments where Spidey grate's Sandman's head against a moving subway.
As far as content between the platforms goes, the consoles will all have the same core story content, but the new consoles will feature some exclusive material that ranges from unique controls for the Wii and Sixaxis support for the PS3 to achievements for the Xbox 360. It also sounds like there might be a few more surprises in store for the platforms, but Treyarch is keeping those details under wraps until development is closer to finishing up.
The look of the game is shaping up to offer all the shiny bells and whistles you'd want out of a game running on the new platforms. The Xbox 360 version that we were shown offers a buffed-out look that smartly expands on the work done in Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man. The city of New York is once again re-created in high detail for you to zip around in and fight crime. The new platforms afford Treyarch a lot more room to play with when creating the city environment, which features a grander scale. The detail on Spidey is pretty much on par with the character model shown off in the initial trailer. The same holds true for the named villains we saw, which were equally sharp. The gang members we saw weren't quite as detailed, but that's to be expected given their grunt status.
A new wrinkle this time around is the indoor and outdoor shifts in the action, which are done in a showy cinematic style. The same cinematic aesthetic is on display in the cineractive segments, which serve as both a showcase for the detailed character models and the game's overall style. The game is planned to support 720p on the 360 and PS3 and 480p on the Wii. As far as audio goes, we didn't hear enough to suss out whether the actual movie cast is being tapped or if soundalikes are being used to bring the cast to life.
Our first impression of Spider-Man 3 The Game is a positive one, thanks to the game's slick look and promising gameplay. Treyarch's experience with the franchise seems to be paying off nicely, as it is polishing up the best elements from the previous games and blending some cool new touches into the mix. The original and black-suit mechanics offer a good amount of variety, and the mix of movie and comic-book elements helps flesh out the main story. What we've seen so far should make fans jump in all the right places and serve as a nifty complement to the sure-to-be-epic film. Look for more on the game in the coming months leading up to its release this May, when it hits the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance. Those absolutely fiending for more on the game will also want to keep an eye on Activision's official site, which will offer further tidbits on the upcoming game.