The Amazing Spider-Man can be a spectacular and somewhat dizzying experience. Spidey has the ability to run up chairs, desks, walls and just about anything in the environment with the fluidity on an insect. When he swings through New York City, collecting a near infinite amount of comic books, it’s a web-slinging good time. However, bland environments, mediocre boss battles, redundant missions and an off-balanced camera will hamper the excitement of this otherwise fun wall-crawling adventure.
The game serves as an epilogue of sorts to The Amazing Spider-Man movie. The lizard is in jail (or rather a mental institution much like Batman’s Arkham Asylum) and Gwen is still working at Oscorp. On the surface, Oscorp appears to be newly reformed and working towards fixing its negative public image – left in the wake of Dr. Curtis Connors’ lizard experiments. Unfortunately, when Gwen sneaks Peter Parker into Oscorp things go horribly wrong. They discover more animal-human testing. Then, things go even more wrong when the hybrid animals go crazy when Spider-Man is near them.
The story starts off with a semi-intriguing plot of infected scientists and Spidey racing against the clock to save the city. He even recruits Dr. Connors to help him. The story isn’t filled with any unpredictable twists, but the voice acting (the talents are not the actors from the movie, but they do a superb job) and initial setup is enough to keep you playing.
The coolest thing about this game is Spider-Man’s smooth controls. Developer Beenox has nearly perfected Spidey’s flawlessly fluid movements. When he’s indoors, he can swing through just about anywhere with ease as long as he dodges pits of green ooze. There are also ample ventilation shafts for Spidey to crawl through and get the drop on opponents.
If you’ve played Batman: Arkham City, you’ll find the combat and reversal system in The Amazing Spider-Man reasonably familiar. Typically, multiple opponents surround Spidey. While he racks up his combo meter punching one opponent, his Spidey sense will trigger, giving you a chance to jump out of the way and crush another attacker. If your Spidey sense flashes red, however, you’ll have to use your web escape to jump out harms way completely from an unblockable attack.
There’s also plenty of web shooter action to be found in this game. Players can slowdown giant fans (or turbines) in order to walk through large air vents. You can also shoot webbing at your opponent and nail them to the wall or ground.
Various upgrades are available as you gain experience points from clobbering opponents, collecting tech items and grabbing comic books from the Manhattan streets. Combat upgrades are introduced as you level up, while tech upgrades help you build up stronger mechanics for your web shooters.
Combat gets interesting once you’re able to perform stealth attacks from above. Players will have a fun time climbing on the ceiling, positioning Spidey directly over an enemy, covering that enemy in a web cocoon and then hauling your wrapped-up-bad guy up to the ceiling. As you level up, you’ll be able to grab multiple opponents at a time.
Unfortunately, there are times when crawling on a ceiling can be a grueling task. Often the camera gets a little wonky when Spidey transitions from the side of a wall to the ceiling. Your vision will often get blocked and you won’t know if you’re on the side of a wall or on the ceiling until an enemy spots you and starts shooting.
There are also exterior moments when Spidey just can’t seem to stop an action. If you run up the side of a building – just to get to the roof – Spidey will continue running until he jumps completely over the roof to the other side of the building. Players will be forced to slow down to a wall crawl before they reach the top. It’s somewhat of a nuisance, but doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of wall running and crawling.
Most of the interior locations are boring, bland environments with hardly any indistinguishable features. It makes navigating through missions a chore. Swinging through the city is a more enjoyable task. There are several side missions to finish. Spidey can save civilians from petty crimes, clear up police deadlocks, participate in high-speed car chases, perform extreme stunts, or help a reporter gather information on Oscorp. These side missions are brief pockets of entertainment that pop up on your map. You’ll want to finish every side quest because they give you an excuse to swing through Manhattan, gathering comic books. There are over 500. Phew.
Most of the side quests are redundant. Taking infected civilians to pop-up medical stations is the same as turning mental patients back over to the authorities. Car chases simply amount to covering up a car windshield with some web fluid, while dodging gunfire. It’s more or less a well-covered up cinematic action.
Boss battles have the same cookie cutter feel. Monstrous, robotic enemies don’t really drum up any of the excitement of the comic book. Typically, they involve dodging an attack, targeting a glowing hot point and then button mashing either your attack or web cartridge button to break off a piece of the robot.
Spidey has the ability to Web Rush through city streets and building interiors. By pressing the right bumper, time goes into pseudo-slow motion as Spidey determines where to jump to next. This is great for changing up directions mid-swing to grab a comic book. Sadly, it also helps you to cheat your way through boss battles.
The Amazing Spider-Man ranks up there as one of my favorite Spider-Man games of all time. However, in keeping with the movie time line, the game dropped the ball on intertwining other great Spidey comic book characters. Even if we couldn’t see more Spidey villains, it would have been cool to see a heroic cameo from – say – Daredevil. The player’s ability to control Spidey’s web slinging action is definitely at its best ever. Sadly, the weak environments lack the HD brilliance of a 2012 game.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Platform: Xbox 360
, also available on PS3
June 26, 2012
7 / 10