The new Amazing Spider-Man game is doing automated gameplay right.
We all hate quick time events. At least, we’re supposed to hate quick time events because, reasons? I never understood it myself. They can get overused like any other game mechanic, but well-integrated QTE’s let us do things that developers just haven’t quite figured out to turn into actual gameplay. I’d be happy to get rid of them once a sequence like the scorpion-water-horse-things fight in God of War 3 becomes feasible in real-time gameplay. Dragon’s Dogma has gotten pretty close since I can climb a hydra and sever one of its heads as I leap to the next one without a single “press x to not die” moment, but we still aren’t quite there. It’s all about at least having some control over your actions instead of being herded through a scripted sequence. Beenox seems to have gotten the right idea with its Web Rush system in The Amazing Spider-Man.
What you’re seeing here besides a completely justifiable rip off of the combat from the Arkham games is a navigation system that lets you do things that require too much precision for a standard control scheme like bouncing off of light poles and swinging on stop lights by choosing context-sensitive destinations for Spidey as he travels around Manhattan like a spider can. This is fantastic because it gives you complete control of where you want to go, but you get to look really cool while doing it. My most adamant gripe with video games is that in-game actions tend to look ridiculous. Have you ever watched a recorded Halo multiplayer match? Everyone is strafing around while facing the same direction like a bunch of broken RC cars. When someone uppercuts an enemy with an energy sword, he fuddles around with the sword still in the hair for a second. Things only look interesting when someone pulls off one of the cool new assassination moves. Tournament matches of Super Smash Bros. Melee look like someone turned the gravity way up since the “wave dash” method of maneuvering has proven effective for competitive play. In spite of the amazing animations, the focus on frame-accurate mechanics in fighters like Blazblue and MVC3 gives the battles a very stilted look as characters go into their “stunned” frame and stay that way until the enemy combo is over.Don’t even get me started on how silly any Bethesda game looks when you go into third person.
Then you play a match of Soul Calibur V and the battles flow like a continuous fight instead of two people taking turns combo spamming each other. I want to do utterly ridiculous things like that motor cycle cut scene from Devil May Cry 3 in real-time with the same level of control that I have over Dante when he’s fighting demons. This Web Rush system gives me hope that one day all games will give us the glorious combination of tight controls and cinematic visuals I’ve dreamed of since I first saw Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.