The Amazing Spider-Man Review: Almost Amazing.
The Amazing Spider-Man makes you feel like Spider-Man, but the world built around him is shallow and unsatisfying.
Spider-Man themed games have been around for decades. From the 2-D beat em ups, to the more recent open world and linear adventures. In the movie world, Spider-Man has always been a big hit. From Peter Parker’s original film debut in 2002, movie based Spider-Man video games have been hand in hand. After the cancellation of Spiderman 4, Sony had decided to reboot the franchise for 2012. With the return of Spider-Man to the big screen, comes the return of Spider-Man on your home console.
Beenox games (Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions, Spider-Man: Edge of Time) has decided to do something a bit different when it comes to a game based off a movie. The Amazing Spiderman is indeed a movie based game, but instead of taking place during the same timeline as the movie, players will see what happened after the film has ended.
Oscorp has always been a huge part of the Spider-Man franchise, but in the Amazing Spider-Man it isn’t just an evil corporation run by Norman Osborn. Oscorp is the home to some of the most brilliant scientists that the world has to offer, and they have the task of bringing revolutionary new nanotechnology to cross-species development to help human kind. Lead Scientist Dr. Curt Connors was on a breakthrough, but after his research lead to the creation of The Lizard, he now has been imprisoned and all of his research has been shut down.
During one of Peter Parker’s trips to Oscorp to visit his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, he learns that the new director of Oscorp, Dr. Alistaire Smythe has been secretly continuing the research of cross- species genetics started by Dr. Connors. Soon after this revelation, one of the cross-species named Scorpion breaks free from his holding container and bites Gwen and makes its’ escape to the city. To save his girlfriend, and stop the outbreak of a cross-species virus, Spider-Man must trust the one person who can help create an antidote, The Lizard’s human form Dr. Curt Connors.
Playing through The Amazing Spider-Man is quite fun, but the story elements are quite average. It seems that Beenox was very limited to what assets they could and couldn’t use. A lot of the game takes place in Oscorp, and the list of villains you encounter is very small compared to other Spider-Man titles. You will obviously encounter The Lizard, but only a few other familiar faces like Rhino and Scorpion make an appearance. About half way through the 8 hour story, Spider-Man encounters an issue with the antidote that was being created. The problem is the twist that it takes is simply unimaginative, and makes the second half of second half of the game seem like recycled content. The other big issue is that the game and the new movie end up having very similar stories. This is due to the fact Beenox can’t really start anything big or new in the series since the sequels to The Amazing Spider-Man movie have not yet been released. Introducing characters like Venom or Mystero simply can’t be done at this time. So the whole idea of telling a story that takes place after the movie falls flat on its web covered face.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the best controling Spider-Man game to date.
The real treat of The Amazing Spider-Man is the gameplay and presentation. Swinging around the city as the Web slinger himself has never felt so good. Beenox has managed to nail the swinging mechanic, and at the same time combine it with a familiar fighting system that most gamers are familiar with.
There is a new camera that follows Spider-Man closer than ever before. At first glance the closer camera might appear a little too close, but once you start swinging through New York you will understand that the improved camera enhances the Spider-Man experience tremendously. The sense of speed and depth perception while swinging is unreal, and the way Spider-Man cuts through the air looks amazingly life like and natural. At the end of your swing Spider-Man will soar through the air with such grace, and other times will do a fancy spiral or back flip before shooting out another web to continue your quest. The animations after the swing are superb and make the player feel like Spider-Man.
One more new mechanic, called Web Rush has also been introduced to assist the player feel like Spider-Man. Web Rush is essentially a first-person view that allows the player to control Spider-Man with precision. Wither you are swinging or in battle, players can activate Web Rush by simply holding one of the shoulder buttons. Time then slows down around the player (for an allotted amount of time) and gives them the opportunity to choose their next move with precision. All the player has to do point and shoot, and as long as there is a golden silhouette which signifies that Spider-Man’s web has something to attach to , Spider-Man will simply get to his destination by swinging on webs, running up walls or engage himself in a free fall, without any more action required by the player. This new mechanic is extremely important and once again makes the player feel like they are Spider-Man.
Web Rush also has a big influence on the battle system as well. The fighting system in The Amazing Spider-Man is similar to Batman Arkham Aslyum, and gamers who have used that style of fighting will be able to pick up the controller and execute multi hit combos with ease. When it comes time to whip some baddies, enemies will surround Spider-Man and attack him in waves. Attacks are almost automated, and the only thing the player needs to worry about is countering enemy attacks with Spider-Man’s spider senses. A small indicator appears above the players head when it is time to dodge an attack. Once you get to a certain number in your hit combo a finishing attack becomes available, Spider-Man then can show off his insane skills and destroy his enemies with some style. Web Rush comes into play when you want to engage in battle with an enemy from a distance, or if you want to grab an item that can be thrown to knock down your foes. Web Rush operates the same way as when you are swinging through New York. Simply hold down a shoulder button and aim at what item or enemy you want to engage with. Web Rush gives the fighting system some precision when it is desperately needed, and helps the player during some of the encounters with enemies that are way too powerful even for Spider-Man to overcome. The stealth sections usually consist of crawling around on the ceiling to make a stealthily web takedown without engaging enemies in direct combat. Of course Spider-Man can use his webs to tie up enemies and shoot web balls while swinging through the air as well. There is plenty of variety in The Amazing Spider-Man’s fighting system to keep you busy, and Web Rush gives the player more precision then ever in a Spider-Man title.
There just isn’t enough to do in The Amazing Spider-Man
While the swinging and fighting mechanics work great, the locations that you will travel to will get repetitive far too quick. I talked about how the nature of visiting the same places affected the story, and sadly it also affects the fluidity of the gameplay as well. The biggest issue The Amazing Spider-Man faces is staying entertaining. The parts of the game where you are swinging through the city catching collectable comic books (which there are 700 of) and jumping off the tallest building of New York are a ton of fun. The problem is once the story has ended there are only a few different options to keep the gameplay going. There are infected civilians that need to be taken to a hospital, bank robberies that need to be stopped, and some time trials that call for Spider-Man to swing faster than he thought possible. Peter Parker is a photographer, and there are some costumes that can be unlocked by finding certain items that need to be photographed. The problem is that most of the action in the city is purely optional, and you can save infected civilians so many times until you get bored. Ninety percent of the main action takes places indoors of Oscorp or the sewers of New York City. There just isn’t enough stuff to do in the city of New York during and after the story has ended.
There are a few sections that take place while swinging through the city, but it consists of Spider-Man fighting giant Oscorp robots. Fighting giant Transformers style robots on top of a giant building is something that just doesn’t quite fit the Spider-Man universe, but the weird part is the swinging mechanics are such a treat to use, these sections end up being the best part of the game. Swinging to get away from enemies while soaring through the air shooting web balls is what Spider-Man is all about. I just never thought I would be doing it while running from killer robots.
The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely anticlimactic when it comes to its story, but the experience of being Spider-Man has never felt better. Beenox just simply doesn’t have enough content to keep the player entertained for more than 8 hours. Hopefully the new camera, swinging controls, and Web Rush make their return in the next Spider-Man title. The Amazing Spider-Man has nailed the feeling of actually being Spider-Man, but sadly the world built around the player just isn’t fully fleshed out. If there was more variety of missions and locations, this would be one of the best Spider-Man titles in existence. If you love just traveling through New York as Spider-Man, then The Amazing Spider-Man is for you.