Batman v. Spiderman: Who, and whose video game, is better?

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Just a couple weeks ago, the new Spider-Man video game was released on PS4.  With hundreds of videos of gameplay circulating around the internet, many have noted that the game is similar to the Batman: Arkham series.  As a result, there has been much debate over which one is better.  When analyzing these games, it is important to take three factors into account: graphics, combat, and maneuverability.

In regard to graphics, the Spider-Man game and Batman: Arkham series differ immensely.  In Spider-Man, the game is typically played in a sunny environment, with many vibrant and bright colors.  The Batman: Arkham series, on the other hand, is situated at night, giving off a gloomy, dark, and mysterious feel to the game.  The only natural light in the game emanates from an enormous moon in the sky, which still only gives off a miniscule amount of illumination.  Generally speaking, when a video game is situated in a dark environment, it is often times hard to incorporate fine detail within the characters appearance or the environment around them.  However, the creators of Arkham proved to have no problem in integrating fine details within the game, ranging from the grooves on Batman’s suit to the weeds protruding from the streets.  The same can be said about the Spider-Man game: the developers go as far as incorporating fine details in the reflections in the puddles on the ground, the leaves on the trees, and the clouds in the sky.  In essence, both games generally do a tremendous job in terms of their quality and quantity of detail.  However, there are still many visual defects within the Spider-Man game.  They are usually found in characters that have no role in they game, who are just there to construct an environment.  More specifically, these are the characters that are walking on the sidewalk, riding a bike, or sailing on a boat – they hold no relevance to the plot.  On occasion, these characters will look like they are made of paper, taking on an origami-like structure.  Typically when video games are released, they usually have a handful of defects and glitches.  Unfortunately, this is the case with Spider-Man.  Because of this, the Batman: Arkham series gets the upper hand in the graphics category.

The second category that is critical in the analysis of these games is the combat style.  On the contrary from graphics and visuals, the combat style in the Batman: Arkham series is very similar to the combat style in Spider-Man.  Both games have a sense of fluidity in combat – the press of a button yields knockout blows to enemies if timed correctly.  Additionally, both games allow the user to counter attacks from the enemy.  It is important to note that the effectiveness of these counter attacks is also based on the timing of pressing a button.  These counter attacks can also be performed in multiple capacity as well.  This means that a counter attack is not limited to just one enemy, and can be delivered to multiple with the press of one button.  Also, the fighting goes beyond hand to hand combat in both games.  In combat, players are allowed to use weapons such as the grappling hook in the Batman: Arkham series with a combination of a few buttons to attack the enemies.  The equivalent of the grappling hook in the Spider-Man game is Spider-Man’s use of webs to “cocoon” enemies, or pull them closer to deliver a strike.  However, the Batman: Arkham series beats Spider-Man in this category in the sense that there is an immense amount of weapons and tools in the Batman: Arkham series that can be used in combat than there is in Spider-Man.  The Batman: Arkham series features many weapons such as the electric charge gun, explosive gel, and even batarangs that can be used to stun, distract, or take down the enemy.  In the Arkham Knight, the most recent game of the Batman: Arkham series, the batmobile was introduced to the combat aspect to the game.  It had the ability to destroy tanks and cars, as well as the power to knock out enemies.  Spider-Man, on the other hand, has its combat limited to hand to hand fighting and spinning webs.  Because of the wide range of weapons to choose from in the Batman: Arkham series, the game is opened up more to the user in terms of how they want to fight.  Ultimately, this is what puts the Batman: Arkham series ahead of Spider-Man in this category.

The third category that is essential to the analysis of these games is their maneuverability.  In Spider-Man, there is a great deal of swinging throughout New York City from building to building by spinning webs.  It has been described that Spider-Man’s swinging feels almost like a roller coaster.  Spider-Man also has the ability to run on the side of buildings, which not only has a smooth feel to it, but is also effective in getting Peter Parker from one side of the city to the other.  In the Batman: Arkham series, Batman typically maneuvers around Gotham City via grappling hook and gliding through the air with his cape.  These two types of transportation go hand in hand: the grappling hook will allow the player to “slingshot” Batman into the air, allowing Batman to glide throughout the map.  In the most recent Arkham game, Arkham Knight, Batman is able to get around the city via the Batmobile.  For this category, it is difficult to determine which game tops the other.  Both games have types of transportation and maneuverability that are not only fast and effective, but are fitting for the environment in which the games are set in.

In my opinion, the Batman: Arkham series trumps the Spider-Man game by a small margin.  Analytically, it bests Spider-Man in graphics and combat, and ties in maneuverability.  Aside from the analytics, the Batman: Arkham series has revolutionized the way which superhero games are structured.  Even the creators of Spider-Man have evidently incorporated many elements from the Batman: Arkham series into the game, such as combat styles and maneuverability techniques.  All in all, although Spider-Man has exceptional gameplay, visuals, combat, and more, it is the Batman: Arkham series that outshines Spider-Man – and may even be the reason why it exists in the first place.

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