July 20, 2012
Any kind of introduction to Spider-Man would be sort of pointless at this stage, considering he's turned up in more games than pretty much anyone barring Mario at this point. That’s not even mentioning the movies, books, comic books (well, obviously), mugs, toys and T-shirts that are probably scattered around your house or adorning your toned physique as we speak. Spidey is pretty much everywhere, but that didn’t stop a few eyebrows being raised when the series was given a movie reboot so shortly (five years) after the last one with The Amazing Spider-Man. We all love Emma Stone being quirky and cute, but is that enough of a reason to make an entire movie? Who knows. What we do know is that here is the game of the film and, you know what? It’s actually pretty good.
Picking up straight after the most recent movie ends you can expect plenty of spoilers, though obviously nothing that fans of the web slinger won’t have already known for years. However, if your intention is to see the film then perhaps playing the game should be put on hold. Otherwise here we go. Having taken down the Lizard and set right all the badness at Oscorp it seems that they are up to their old tricks again. Tsk, megalomaniacal boffins, what are they like? So it’s up to our hero to bring in a bunch of rampaging villains from his storied back catalogue.
The story is decidedly ho-hum if truth be told and some of the villains fail to live up to their billing with a few unimpressive moments dragging the whole thing down. It also seems like most of the games budget was spent on making Spidey himself look as good as possible with the rest of the cast being decidedly the wrong side of average. In fact love interest Gwen Stacy looks more like an OAP in some scenes than Parker's number one crush.
The game generally follows two main threads (ha!) with our hero either running through tightly packed interiors or swinging high above the city streets. In truth the game is at its best when you are free to roam the city from on high, swooping down to help out random citizens or snagging a host of collectibles. Unfortunately, as soon as the game becomes confined to drab corridors and endless laboratories, then things become a bit more blasé and repetitive. The best part of being Spider-Man is the freedom to go where you want, and as soon as the game forces you down a linear path it seems that much less enjoyable.
Combat seems to have taken its cue from the most recent Batman titles, which is no bad thing, but not quite as harsh in terms of button mashing. You can take in a roomful of goons with timed punches, the occasional dodge when your Spider Sense is tingling and some neat finishing moves when your combo gets high enough. It works pretty well and utilises all of your acrobatic moves to their fullest extent. It never feels quite as smooth as Batman though and the camera can sometimes be your worst enemy in a mass brawl. Still you can always creep around the walls and roof taking out your opponents with a touch of stealth, though the camera tends to get caught up in the scenery more than you would like. Either way works a treat, and as you go you'll level up your skills and unlock a few new ones to help you out.
While combat can be fun, it all becomes a bit repetitive and the caliber of your foes never really becomes great enough to pose any real threat even on the hardest difficulty. The same holds true for all of the free roaming missions out on the mean streets. Sure it’s nice to help out the police, rescue hostages or round up mental patients, but the amount of times you are required to complete the same simple tasks becomes rather too much. Even the collectibles have been dragged out to a whopping 700 items, plus even more on the internal missions, and while the rewards for collecting them are pretty cool (in the form of readable comics) it still feels like a chore at times to track them all down.
Thankfully the act of swinging around the city is made a lot easier thanks to the handy Web Rush ability that can speed up your progress enormously. Slowing down time for a short while, you can pick your spot to dash to, or lock onto foes to speedily dispense some justice as well. It makes getting across town that much easier and can be a handy tactical tool when you are in a tight spot as well. In fact of all the minor additions and tweaks to the tried and tested formula, it is quite easily the most inspired.
Spidey is at his best when allowed to swing from mission to mission helping folks out along the way. Thankfully most of the achievements play into that formula, with chances to pick up points for doing mundane things like toppling the game's bosses and some for going out of your way to assist with little side missions. As you would expect, you have to find and collect every single pick up along the way, which may well be a step too far for most people, but on the whole things are kept fairly fun if a touch predictable.
Put simply this game is not the definitive superhero title. Far from it. But it does provide a solid amount of fun despite the dubious graphics and niggles along the way. It may have drawn from one of the best games in the genre but it does it with a nice twist and enough decent moments to make it worth investing a bit of time webbing around the city. The dodgy camera angles, sub par graphics and uninspiring story take away from the magic somewhat but, until that hint of repetition kicks in, The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun ride.
Not exactly the official voice cast but they do a pretty good job nonetheless, though the rest of the soundtrack is pretty much fluff.
Spider-Man himself looks pretty good but the range of animations given to pretty much everyone else is a real step down. Not to mention the dull interiors and generic city blocks on offer too.
When the game gets into its stride it provides a fun and polished experience, but some of the shine is taken away by repetitive missions and boring enemies. Plus, with so many collectibles the incentive to find them all soon wears thin.
A well portrayed rendition of the web slinger that sees him at his acrobatic and stealthy best when things go well, but also in cramped corridors with a dubious camera when it doesn’t.
A decent list and one that encourages you to free roam to your hearts content, which is thankfully when the game truly shines.
A well made, if slightly flawed, adaptation of the friendly neighborhood webhead that is sure to provide far more entertainment than it does boredom. Roaming the city skyline and then zipping down into combat is exhilarating stuff, until the gloss wears off and The Amazing Spider-Man becomes a game where you’ll have seen it all before.