Also On: PS3
The Amazing Spider-Man is what I’ve grown to expect from a Beenox developed, Activision published Spider-Man title over the past few years. Meaning this is a middle of the road experience that’s not quite awful, but isn’t too great either. Granted, this is definitely a step up from Spider-Man: Edge of Time, but The Amazing Spider-Man definitely feels like it’s time for someone else to take a shot at the Spidey universe.
This entry already has two strikes going against it. One is that it’s based off of a film, which means that it’s already a little hamstrung in how its world and villains can be portrayed. While Beenox does give it some effort, by trying to use some really basic forms of Spider-Man foes like the Rhino, Scorpion, and Vermin, there’s not a lot that they’re able to do while sticking to the cornerstone built by the recent reboot of the film franchise.
The villains are almost entirely mindless abominations that spawn out of the Lizard/Curt Connor’s experiments from the film, and there’s no real characterization outside of them being a bunch of rampaging, infectious beasts. And then there’s the main antagonist of the tale, which starts off pleasant enough, but quickly dovetails into a predictable sociopath that anyone with an ounce of sense could see coming from a mile away. The more insulting part of this character’s portrayal comes from his sudden “what have I done!” ending, which seems pretty ridiculous considering how much prep work must have went into his machinations that led to that point.
The other strike comes from the fact that Spider-Man: Edge of Time, the Beenox Spider-Man title that preceded this one, was just released in October of 2011, meaning that there’s been literally 10 months in between that and The Amazing Spider-Man. And while I can appreciate the business need to put out a movie-licensed video game within the time span that the actual movie comes out, it’s really taking the excitement of playing a new Spider-Man game and ratcheting that down quite a bit. And it certainly can’t be that good for the actual development of the product, which after just a few hours of gameplay certainly shows here.
Thankfully The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t all doom and gloom. Part of that comes from what equates to a large, open world hub that echoes back to the Spider-Man games prior to Beenox taking over, like Web of Shadows and Ultimate Spider-Man. Once again players can swing around New York, or specifically the Manhattan area here, which is just as fun as it’s always been. Sure, they don’t go for the more realistic style found in Spider-Man 2, which actually required you to be near some kind of surface when swinging, but it’s still a remarkably satisfying experience.
Another boost to Amazing Spider-Man comes from the Web Rush ability, which is a more refined concept found in previous Beenox developed Spidey games. Web Rush allows you to line up a constant on-screen reticule with just about any object at a distance, and instantly zip Spider-Man across the screen to that spot. The game will helpfully give you an indication of where Spider-Man will land with glowing ghost figures of Spider-Man at the intended destination, and will often highlight these spots if they’re necessary to advance through a level. You can also hold down the button in order to temporarily slow down time, allowing you some opportunity to line up the Web Rush, which really helps when navigating the interior stages that make up the bulk of Amazing Spider-Man’s gameplay.
But these two things aren’t quite enough to make up for an otherwise tepid experience. Amazing Spider-Man’s combat feels a bit like Arkham City-lite, lacking the bone crushing impact of the hand to hand combat found in developer Rocksteady’s Batman series. It also implements some kind of odd, constant need to position the camera at the most inconvenient angles while fighting, clearly going for a cinematic look that ends up needing constant adjustments, especially since it tends to obscure the visual aid that’ll help you counter an off-screen punch.
And while the web-swinging through town mechanic is certainly nice to have back, it does little to mask the fact that the optional side missions you can tackle in New York’s streets are pretty damn repetitious and boring. You’ll collect sick residents and drop them off at shelters, stop police car chases by apprehending the criminals, race around town by collecting markers, and take snap shots of highly telegraphed objects for a Daily Bugle reporter. There are a few more activities, but once you’ve encountered and finished a task, all that’s left is doing more of that task over and over again in between missions. The results only lead to a paltry serving of experience points, and hardly seem worth the time and boredom involved.
And that kind of sums up how I feel about the Amazing Spider-Man in general. Unless you’re some kind of rabid Spider-Man fan that absolutely must experience the super hero in every form of media possible, I’d urge you to not waste your time with the Amazing Spider-Man. While it’s not an offensively bad experience, and certainly works well enough for the most part, the character definitely deserves better than it’s getting here, or has for the past couple games. It’s clear that this rushed cycle isn’t benefiting the series, and I’m hoping that somebody out there tries to breathe some much needed life into the franchise before it’s too late.