IGN Preview of Spider-Man: Battle for New York
Even though most of the gaming content could be considered somewhat of an uninvited guest during the Comic-Con season, Activision's making sure to deliver a hands-on experience that's sure to make any Marvel fanboy forget about graphic novels for at least a few seconds. Multiple titles inspired from the Marvel franchise are showing some strong attention on the showroom floor, so we decided to stop by the booth and see what all the fuss was about. Assuming it was just another mildly attractive fangirl in an overbearing wonder women suit, we were happy to find a most pleasant surprise in Spider-Man: Battle for New York instead. Premiering alongside Marvel Legends, Spider-Man is set to hit both the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS systems later this year, featuring an origins story which gives players the chance to play as both Spider-Man himself, as well as his nemesis Green Goblin. The final version promises to outfit players with upgradeable attributes, multiplayer and mini-games that utilize the DS touch screen to its fullest. Not too shabby.
Spider-Man: Battle for New York is essentially an unofficial sequel to Ultimate Spider-Man, at least when looking specifically at the DS versions. Using the game engine and presentation design, Taurus games is picking up where Vicarious Visions left off in the previous game, blending a mix of 3D spline-based level design (allowing for a three-dimensional world with side-scroller gameplay) with a very comic-inspired graphical design. The majority of the action takes place on the top screen, with Spidey's special attacks taking up the bottom screen. The main combat is pulled off with the Y and A buttons, using B to jump (and swing, if the button is held down) and X as a placeholder button for super-attacks (as touch implementation for supers was yet to be included). When in combat, players can act on Spider-Man's "Spidey sense" by tapping the L button, which sends him into a jumping spin-dodge (a classic Spider-Man move). All other web-slinging is done with the R button, and can be aimed either horizontally or vertically to wrap up enemies, stick to walls or ascend to new heights. In common Spider-Man fashion, players can crawl up and down walls at any time as well simply by pressing towards them.
The Comic-Con build is reportedly at about 75% completion, though the game is locked off aside from one Spider-Man level and a mini-game example. From what we played thus far, there's some definite promise in the game, but it's really going to come to down to that final 25% of development to really see how the game ends up. When it comes to designing combat-intense action games (particularly hand-to-hand) one change in the gameplay can make all the difference, and while Spider-Man: Battle for New York isn't quite as tight as it could be, the game is still going through some obvious changes in the next few months (super move implementation and a few AI bugs to name a few), so there's still a good chunk of time to go from "good" to "great". As it stands right now, the general gameplay is still pretty entertaining though, and maneuvering Spidey through the city is good for some classic beat-em-up fun.
On the production side of things, Spider-Man: Battle for New York expands on the style of Ultimate Spider-Man quite nicely. The bulk of the story is told through semi-animated cut-scenes (sliding panels in and out of frame to give the art a bit more life), and more than 30 of these "comic cinemas" are featured throughout the game. Activision even went as far as to hire on Marvel artist Ron Lim, featured in numerous comics over the years from Silver Surfer and Black Panther, as well as Spider-Man, to create the story art. The impressive panel art, teamed with strong 3D animations during the main game give Spider-Man: Battle for New York a very stylized feel. In fact, Rom Lim was nice enough to take a few minutes from his busy Comic-Con schedule to conduct a short interview.
We'll have more on Spider-Man: Battle for New York as the week goes on, as well as a video interview for both Battle for New York and Marvel Legends this Friday. Be sure to keep checking back at IGN.com for all the latest on Activision's Marvel titles, as well as fresh info from Comic-Con 2006.
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