The Amazing Spider-Man Review

Developer: Beenox (Most versions), Other Ocean Interactive (DS version), Gameloft (Mobile version)

Publisher: Activision

Release Date: June 26th, 2012

Available on: Mobile, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PC, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360

Reviewer’s note: I played the Xbox 360 version of this game. There may be differences between versions.

Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Does whatever a spider can! …Except star in more than one good video game that is. After the genuinely fun Spider-Man 2 it seems that we haven’t seen another Spider-Man game worth getting excited about. Now with a movie reboot maybe a game reboot may do some good?

Taking place a few months after the movie, The Amazing Spider-Man sees Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy sneaking into and discovering that Oscorp actually still has Conner’s cross-species in it. While current director Alistar Smythe insists he’s removing them, the plans are cut short when they break out. Now facing a hoard of cross-species and a viral infection that threatens to kill millions, Spider-Man does something he finds rather difficult: he breaks Curt Conners out of the mental asylum to help fix the problem. A surprisingly strong plot carries the game pretty well, using the characters in interesting ways. Some of it falls flat, Black Cat’s played up role amounted to a cameo at best and a lot of the Spider-Man villains like Rhino and Scorpion don’t do much of anything, but the central story is pretty good and I could see it making a good comic arc. That said, the game left an awful opening impression as an almost fifteen minute opening cut scene consisted of nothing more than Peter and Gwen walking around and talking about Oscorp while you watched.

Similar to most past Spider-Man games, The Amazing Spider-Man puts you in an open world New York and has you swinging around the city to complete various tasks. Besides the (surprisingly lengthy) main mission there’s a good chunk of side content for you to do. Starting with the main storyline, you’ll be spending a lot of it either in an Oscorp laboratory or the sewers, which honestly all looks the same. You’ll be carrying out various objectives that tend to get repetitive after a while. The majority of them are really just “get from point A to point B” and involves you beating up a lot of enemies along the way. Combat is reminiscent of the Arkham series, but without any of the polish that made it so good. You can only really attack and dodge, and if you manage to stun an enemy you can also preform a special finisher move to instantly defeat them. At any point you can hold down the right bumper to enter a first person view, and then you can either highlight objects in the environment to throw at enemies or actual enemies to preform a rush attack against them. At best it all looks nice, Spider-Man’s finishing attacks contain some awesome acrobatic work and neat camera angles. Yet you rarely get to “best” and most of the time it’s just a clunky Arkham rip-off with most the interesting stuff missing.

The first person “web rush” feature does more than let you zip at enemies though. When you’re swinging about you can enter the first person mode, point at where you want to go, and watch as Spider-Man proceeds to find the best route to it automatically. While I was originally against the idea, as it sounded a little too much like the game was playing itself, it grew on me as the regular web swinging was just too loose to get me to the specific and exact places I needed to be. It also is helpful as you can point at collectables and instantly zip towards them. There’s a ton of them to zip to as well. Each level contains magazines, photos to take, audio logs, and tech kits. There’s also 700 comic books that you can find littered around the open world, and mental hospital patients to rescue. Some rewards are even pretty decent, you can actually unlock Spider-Man comics by finding the comics.

As you swing around New York you’ll find side quests to do. Most of these seem to come off as hit or miss though. Petty crime is just a single fight against a few thugs, while a police blockade is the exact same thing only the thugs have guns. Sometimes you’ll be chasing cars down and shooting webbing onto their windows to stop them, while other times you’ll be taking photographs of signs of villains that aren’t appearing in the game (I’d love to have seen Sandman or Mr. Negative here.) A blimp offers a weird challenge where you need to keep Spider-Man in the center of a video screen, and also some races that are hilariously easy. Later you can access secret labs that require you to sneak around enemies and reward you with new abilities, and a couple of side missions that are surprisingly just as fleshed out as the main missions. The worst, though, is saving infected citizens. All this consist of is picking up sick people and swinging them to the closest hospital, but every few chapters the game spawns so many that it made me hate doing this so much. It becomes mind-numbingly repetitive and dull.

Every time you complete a side-quest, defeat villains, and collect collectables you’ll get XP. Every time you level up you can unlock new abilities or upgrade current ones. You can also get tech points from defeating robots or finding tech kits which you can use to unlock a different branch of upgrades. It seems weird that they would split it off into two different branches, and this just ended up with the tech branch getting upgraded in bursts as I would see long sections without any robot enemies to get tech points from.

By the end of The Amazing Spider-Man I was pretty disappointed. The game’s surprisingly good story is ruined by being a poorly done Arkham rip-off, and having more meaningless bad side quests instead of decent good ones. The Amazing Spider-Man could have been a great entry into the Spider-Man games, but it turns out it’s just simply not amazing.

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