Posted on July 3, 2012 AT 11:55am
Spider-man finally swings back into open-world gameplay. Is it as amazing as its title suggests?
The Amazing Spider-man is not perfect and although its a heck of a lot of fun and brimming with potential, it doesn’t feel quite as complete as one would hope. Still, it manages to break free of the movie tie-in game curse by being both a solid game and generally not a rushed piece of marketing. There are some aspects that feel like they could have cooked a little longer in the oven, so to speak, but overall this is up there for me as one of my favorite Spider-man games. manages to break free of the movie tie-in game curse by being both a solid game and generally not a rushed piece of marketing.
Beenox, you may remember as the developers behind the last two Spidey games, both of them level based affairs. Shattered Dimensions had you taking on the role of five different Spider-men from five different realities, which I still think of as my favorite Spidey game of all time. Edge of Time featured fun gameplay but a pretty convoluted story and repetitive levels. Having seen both the best and worst that this developer can offer, I couldn’t help but be skeptical about The Amazing Spider-man. Add in the fact that Spidey was being returned to a free-roaming open world (something we haven’t seen the developer attempt before) and it raised even more questions.
This is not an adaptation of the new movie. It acts as an epilogue, taking place a few months after the events of the film. Naturally, you’re hit with a handful of spoilers right from the very beginning of the game. So, if you haven’t picked up the game yet, you might want to wait until after you’ve seen the movie. Either way, the spoilers that are here are not anything monumental you wouldn’t have figured out on your own. The story does introduce some “movie-flavored” versions of some classic Spider-man characters including, most notably, Alistair Smythe, Felicia Hardy and a handful of B-list villains like Rhino, Scorpion and Vermin.
We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat…web-swinging around New York is as fun as its ever been. The camera is now situated tightly behind Spidey’s back which creates a great feeling of acceleration when swinging and freefalling. As much as I loved web-swinging in all the other Spidey games, the only other game that I could just sit down and do nothing but swing around the city for hours was the now legendary Spider-man 2. With 700 comic book pages to collect throughout the city, you’ll find yourself swinging around for hours yourself. Graphically Spidey looks great, the detail on his costume and his animations are really well done. In fact, all the major characters in the game sport some nice looking character models. The city also looks pretty great with some nice lighting effects during different times of day and a bit of mist and fog when you’re really high up intensifying the feeling of…well, being really high above everything. The graphics tend to falter a bit with the indoor sections and with the different thugs you’ll face. There’s an inconsistency as far as the quality of the environmental textures ranging from good to muddy looking. Also some of the character models for the thugs you’ll face are pretty uninspired and their animations pale in comparison to our hero (which is understandable to a degree I suppose).We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat…web-swinging around New York is as fun as its ever been.
The voice acting, although not provided by any of the stars of the film, is nevertheless excellent. Spidey has no shortage of cheesy one-liners and Smythe makes a convincing villain. Be warned though, you’re going to hear a lot of the same sound bites during combat and while web-swinging. It gets a little repetitive, but I wouldn’t call it game-breaking. The story is nothing really spectacular and a bit predictable. Its not quite as epic as it was aiming for and some of the dialogue towards the end is a bit heavy handed. But, in the end, its all just an excuse to swing around and web up bad guys…so my complaints there are minor.
Gameplay-wise, Beenox takes a lot of their cues from Rocksteady’s excellent Arkham series of Batman games. Combat includes one strike button, one counter button, jump and a signature move button. Once you’ve built up your combo multiplier high enough (yeah, its got one of those too) you can hit the signature move button and do some really flashy Spidey type moves. Although the combat is definitely inspired by the freeflow system of the Batman games, it doesn’t feel quite as fluid. This is in part due to the animations and just the nature of Spidey’s moves in contrast to Batman’s. Still, once you adjust to it you can certainly take out a room of full of bad guys with style. There is also stealth based gameplay like the silent predator sections of Batman. At any time you can hit a shoulder button to “web-retreat”, yanking Spidey out of view and into a shadowy corner of the room. You can then do stealth takedowns and then retreat back into the shadows. Enemies will begin searching for you with flaslights, necessitating moving from corner to corner and out of sight. Again, this doesn’t feel as smooth as the Batman games, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Spider-man can stick to anywhere. And like every Spider-man game before it, the camera completely goes nuts whenever you go upside down on a ceiling. Boss fights against the standard Spidey villains are kind of short and generally not that exciting (unfortunately). However, there are some boss battles against some of Smythe’s giant robots out in the city which are pretty thrilling.
Gameplay-wise, Beenox takes a lot of their cues from Rocksteady’s excellent Arkham series of Batman games. The game is also chock full of collectibles which will have you going back and replaying levels just to get them all, not to mention the comic book pages spread out over the open world that unlock complete digital comics in the Extras section of the main menu. As with other open-world Spidey games, there are a lot of side missions and random crimes all over the city. Reporter Whitney Chang will send Spidey on photo assignments and clue him in on secret Oscorp labs to break into for tech upgrades. The photo assignments are neat because they include a lot of references to other classic Spider-man villains. Random crimes include muggings, high speed car chases and deadlocks. More variety in these would have been nice and unfortunately they are not unlimited. Eventually all that will be left to do in the city will be comic page collecting. It would have been nice if the crimes kept happening just so I could keep feeling like Spider-man long after the main game is over. You can replay story levels, but considering how repetitive these can be its not something I can see doing a whole lot after I’ve collected everything. There are extra costumes to unlock and Beenox has promised to release more in future updates.
Despite its flaws, The Amazing Spider-man is a great time. There’s a lot of nice easter eggs for Spidey-fans, the voice acting is great, gameplay is fun and web-swinging is a blast. You may be one of those fans who are automatically skeptical of any type of open world Spider-man game, who believes nothing compares to Spider-man 2. There were things about all the open world games I liked. This is NOT the perfect amalgamation of all the good things from those other games, so as long as you manage your expectations I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much fun this game can be. Although it would have been nice if there was more to do after the game is over (and more variety at that), I still see myself at the very least swinging around this playground for a lot longer.
(note: the PC version will be released on Steam in August. But, is identical to the PS3/Xbox 360 version reviewed here).
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