Not Beenox's first Spider-Man game, The Amazing Spider-Man comes out swinging (pun point: me) and builds on the moderate success of past titles to make for one hell of a Spider-Man game.
- Web swinging has never looked better
- One damn pretty city
- You will feel like the goddamn Spider-Man
- Lack of combos cripples combat
- A general feeling that you're not in control
Spider-Man games have a sordid history. Not unlike Sonic the Hedgehog, Spider-Man is an awesome character who has been submitted to some tortuous video games. But for some reason, my expectations for The Amazing Spider-Man have been high ever since its announcement. Luckily, for the first time in nearly a decade, Spider-Man has been given a game worthy of his name.
Looking good Spider-Man!
Although the game technically begins in an Oscorp lab, the first thing I noticed when getting out into the city was just how gorgeous it is. Something I felt crippled Beenox’s past Spider-Man games was the lack of a free-roam Manhattan. Now not only did they debut a detailed city to explore, but a damn fine looking city at that. Glass buildings reflect the buildings across from them. Water meters hidden in nooks and crannies lend to the realistic feeling.
The second thing I noticed took me about an hour to get used to: web swinging. Instead of opting for a web that attaches to buildings, Beenox instead made Spider-Man’s web more of a suggestion. When you press the button to web swing, your web simply shoots up into oblivion, attaching to god-knows-what. (It looks asinine at first, but after a while I realized that is exactly what the comic books look like for the most part. Spider-Man’s web doesn’t always look attached to something, but what matters is that he should look good while web swinging.) When I stopped caring about where the web attached, the game became that much more fun to look at.
The highest form of flattery
In the video game world, there are two ways to succeed: imitate or innovate. The Amazing Spider-Man has chosen the former. And I don’t mind one bit. The game combines elements of Rocksteady’s Batman, the Assassin’s Creed series and Infamous 2, but comes out looking nothing like the Frankenstein-esque monster you might expect.
The combat immediately reminded me of my time with Arkham Asylum. One button starts an attack while another button is used to dodge attacks. Spider-Man’s spider sense warns you when an attack is incoming by flashing over his head not unlike the comics. This is probably the weakest element of the game, as the lack of real combos can make combat feel repetitive and yawn-worthy. Luckily, the set combat pieces are badass enough that mashing one button is fine because you get to watch Spider-Man beat thugs like a PCP-addled ballerina.
Another big part cribbed from Rocksteady’s Batman games is the stealth combat. Not unlike Batman, Spider-Man is not a big fan of being shot, and whenever possible will try to avoid it. Interestingly enough, being able to crawl on walls instead of jumping from conveniently placed gargoyles feels more natural. Once you sneak up on an enemy, they will turn blue to indicate you are free to swoop down and envelop them in webbing. Though it can be hard to not alert other enemies to your activities, the first time I cleared a room and looked up to see a neatly decorated ceiling full of thugs; I giggled.
For my money, the city movement in The Amazing Spider-Man is flawless. The right trigger is used to web swing, but if held, Spider-Man will go wherever you want and make it as pretty as you can imagine. Like Assassin’s Creed’s free running, the right trigger is your golden button for looking awesome and getting somewhere quickly. Speaking of fast travelling, the other movement option is the “web rush,” which allows you to quickly move to highlighted areas. If you want to slow things down to spider time, you can also hold the button to freeze time and select exactly where you would like to go. Upon release, you can set the controller down and watch Spider-Man stylishly dance to your goal.
Unfortunately, this is also one of my core gripes with the game. At times, it just feels too damn easy. It’s clear that Beenox wanted the game to have hundreds of cool moments, both in combat and movement, but I often felt that they were holding my hand through all of them. The single button combat (with a few paltry “signature moves” that don’t really work) results in sweet moves, but I never felt that I was controlling them. I staunchly believe that any superhero game should have a rich combo system, and The Amazing Spider-Man hardly has one at all.
The Daredevil is in the details
As far as I can surmise—not having seen the film—the game takes place after the movie. Or maybe alongside the film? It doesn’t really matter. The basic storyline is much like any Spider-Man game: a pandemic is sweeping through Manhattan and it’s up to you to fight off mutated freaks, come up with a cure, and save the girl. Probably the funniest addition to the game is a Twitter-esque posting board that is displayed during load screens featuring the opinions of fellow New Yorkers. More than once I chuckled at the choice “tweets.” (“If I don’t make it, will someone feed my cat?” or “That was worse than the corrupted blood incident in WoW!”)
It’s this attention to detail, however, that really made the game shine for me. Peter’s costume (once again, like Rocksteady’s Batman) slowly deteriorates as missions develop, revealing angry gashes in his skin. After playing the game for a few hours I noticed that Spider-Man reloads his web cartridges on a regular basis. After defeating the game, you can choose to explore the city during any time of day, or even during the ashen burning of a post-apocalyptic sunset.
The meticulous nature of the game carries over to the camera. When Spider-Man is crawling on walls—especially indoors—you can expect the camera to change from third person, to over the shoulder to first person depending on your position. For the most part this feels seamless and natural as you will want a first-person camera when sitting still and targeting enemies. The only downside is the dizziness that can result. When crawling around sewer tunnels or a robot factory, I often forgot which way was up or where the hell I was going, having to frequently press the drop button to let gravity help me out. Once again, I think this is a great addition as it truly wraps you in Spider-Man’s costume, making you feel how Spider-Man would feel.
A great responsibility
Slick visuals, detailed design, tried and true combat all make for a solid title. Add in fan service, such as awesome collectibles (comic book pages that allow you to read original Spider-Man comic books on your TV) and ambient missions actually worth doing (gone are the days of chasing children’s balloons), and The Amazing Spider-Man is the first Spider-Man game I can recommend since Spider-Man 2 for the PlayStation 2.
Beenox’s previous Spider-Man titles were pedestrian at best, but The Amazing Spider-Man is a stellar installment that gives me hope for future games. Because this is the game Spider-Man deserves, not the one he needs. Was that Batman? Whatever shut up it’s my review.
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Editor's Note: The Amazing Spider-Man was reviewed using an Xbox 360 copy of the game; however, we also played the PS3 version, and found no differences. If further investigation reveals any differences between the 360 edition and the PS3 edition of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.