Review: The Amazing Spider-Man
With The Amazing Spider-Man reboot movie just days away, it's quite eyebrow-raising that the game is already here despite the fact that it serves as an epilogue to the film. Either way, it's here and we've played it. Read on to find out whether or not the latest Spider-Man game is a winner.
- Addictive?Yes, being Spider-Man is if you're a fan, and the game gives you a good feeling of that, especially with its new Web Rush mechanic.
- Worth The Time?Yes, if you're not expecting greatness and are only looking for a fun Spider-Man game. You'll definitely find that here.
- Things LovedThe Web Rush mechanics work surprisingly well, the graphics are very nice, Spider-Man's suit damage looks great, the game has some great set pieces, it doesn't feel like a cheap licensed game but like it can stand on its own two feet, the game feels fresh, swinging around the city is good fun, the voice acting is pretty good overall, there are plenty of unlockables including new costumes and full comic books, the game can be quite lengthy.
- Things HatedIt's too easy and easily exploitable, the story is not very interesting, the boss battles are very weak, the combat feels quite shallow and clunky, stealth lacks variety, there's a lack of classic Spider-Man parkour tricks and general abilities and upgrades, it can be quite repetitive.
- RecommendationIf you're looking for a fun Spider-Man game, then this is definitely worthy of playing, although don't expect something great. It might be best to wait to pick it up for a cheaper price, but in the end if you're a fan you will enjoy this fresh and pleasant experience. It's a pretty decent game overall.
- Quick ConclusionIt isn't exactly an epic Spider-Man game for the ages, but it's fun to play and it has a surprisingly fresh feel to it. It's an all-round pleasant and decent offering that feels like it can stand on its own two feet.
- Name: The Amazing Spider-Man
- Genre: Action
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, 3DS, DS, iOS, Android
- Developer: Beenox, Gameloft (Mobile)
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R399 (PC), R429 (PS3, 360), R349 (Wii)
- Reviewed On: PS3
The Amazing Spider-Man movie is almost upon us, or rather it already landed a few days ago if you were one of the lucky ones to see the premier. Either way, the obligatory game is already out, and what’s eyebrow-raising is that it’s an epilogue to the movie despite the fact that it’s out before the actual movie. Talk about chronologically challenged. The good part about being an epilogue though is that it has the freedom to do its own thing, and fortunately that’s exactly what The Amazing Spider-Man does up to a point. It has a few links and little nods to the movie, but for the most part its quite content to be its own game and not cling to the restraints of the movie like a parasite, and that’s perhaps what I liked most about this game. Beenox delivered for me with Shattered Dimensions, stumbled heavily with last year’s Edge of Time, and now it’s their third attempt at creating a Spider-Man game that does justice to the famous webslinger. So, let’s take a closer look at how The Amazing Spider-Man measures up.
The game takes place months after the events of the movie, and I won’t really say much about it in case you’re worried about getting spoilers for the movie that you’re hopefully planning to see. I will say that the game continues the movie’s theme of cross-species, as in taking animals and injecting human DNA into them and vice versa. Long story short, cross-species cause infections that cause other people to either die or become cross-species themselves, and when some of these cross-species baddies break out of their cages they start spreading an infection across New York City. That’s about the most I’ll say, although the game does have some rather interesting ideas for some of Spidey’s recognisable villains, particularly with their origins. You’ll tangle with Scorpion, Rhino, Black Cat, Iguana, Smythe and his Spider-Slayers and, of course, the Lizard. It’s a fair premise for the game to sensibly continue on from the movie, but there are some issues with the plot that make it rather lackluster.
The game’s story is hardly interesting or original, and I guess I feel that way because after both Prototype and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, this whole “save New York City from a mass virus” thing is getting pretty old and predictable. The execution in Amazing Spider-Man is not that bad at all really, and as I said it’s a pretty fair premise that helps make the game feel fresh and linked to the movie. It’s just that, the direction of the plot is easy to predict, it’s not very exciting and it really just serves as a platform to carry the game rather than drive it. But on the positive side, it’s not that bad overall, it has its moments and gets quite intriguing towards the finale, the voice acting is actually quite good despite the absence of the movie cast and you’ll want to see the game through to the end, which I guess is what counts here since I wasn’t really expecting an epic tale, especially with the movie tie-in constraints.
With its gameplay, The Amazing Spider-Man surprisingly manages to freshen things up, particularly with how it feels to play. This is due to the new Web Rush mechanic, the combat and stealth gameplay being influenced by the recent Batman games and the changes to the swinging system, as it emulates the movie by being quite grounded and physical, with a close-up camera on Spidey and rushes of wind and blur effects thrown in to make it more exhilarating. Fortunately, it is. The Web Rush mechanic is quite an interesting one, as your first impressions of it will probably be quite bad until you learn to use it. At the push of a trigger you can get Spider-Man to interact with objects in the environment, perform Web Strikes during combat, zip-line towards vantage points and traverse terrain in short time. Holding down the same trigger, rather than pushing it once, activates slow motion and gives you a first person view of your environment to show you all Web Rush targets, such as enemies highlighted in red, objects to interact with and spots Spidey can leap to as you explore the environment with your cursor.
The biggest problem with the Web Rush mechanic is that it does make the game very easy often enough and simplifies things heavily, so you may want to play on the harder difficulties if you want any challenge. However, it works very well within the context of the game and is at its best when you’re not in the rather drab in-door environments. When you’re swinging around the city of Manhattan, Web Rush is a fantastic means of traversing the city Spidey style. Once you get comfortable with it, you’ll start to really enjoy the sense of speed and grace it gives to the parkour. You’ll use your cursor to target the environment, and tapping the trigger will highlight the spot you want to get to, even if it’s in the air, and the real fun is in linking these together to get Spider-Man to bounce off walls, soar and spin through the air, propel himself forward with zip-lines, dart through obstacles and fluidly and swiftly move through the environment. If you ever want to be precise, you can always enter first person slow motion by holding down the trigger and manually selecting your target. The Web Rush mechanic really freshens things up and is fun to use, but unfortunately you will miss some of Spidey’s parkour moves, such as hanging upside down on a web and performing air tricks, and it does minimize player input.
The thing I liked about the combat and stealth is that they don’t function separately, but are rather used together and complement each other well. With stealth, you can stalk your targets from the walls and ceiling, and at the tap of the left trigger you’re able to use the Web Retreat ability to web zip away and get out of a hotspot. On the flip side, you can use Web Strike to get right back into the fray. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to exploit the game by using Web Strike and Web Retreat repeatedly to keep enemies confused, but at least they deal lots of damage to you especially with guns, which encourages you to stay stealthy. The game uses a regenerative health system, so if you’re in trouble which you often will be due to the high damage you take, you’ll need to Web Retreat and wait in the darkness to heal up. A purple web will appear on the ground in front of or beneath Spider-Man to show the range in which he can perform a stealth takedown. It’s pretty fun, and it can get quite tense when enemies whip out flashlights and scan the walls and ceiling to search for you. However, you’re not forced to use stealth, and can quickly perform Web Strikes or dive headfirst into battle and mix and match stealth and combat, which does help make things feel quite dynamic. Unfortunately, despite the positives, the stealth is basic overall, and there’s nothing more to it other than just picking enemies off.
The game’s combat shares similarity to the recent Batman games with its system of strike, counter and evade, with your web shots being used to immobilize and hinder enemies. You’ll build up a combat multiplier, and are able to perform signature finishers on enemies when you reach a certain score provided you buy the upgrades for it. When an enemy attacks, he’ll be outlined in white and your Spider-Sense will go off, telling you to counter. It’s quite cool to see Spider-Man perform wrestling moves and knock-outs on weakened enemies, and you can always subdue stunned enemies with a blast of webbing. Much like the Batman games, you’ll face standard grunts, enemies that use knives, guns and shields as well as big brutes who block your attacks. Now, while the combat sounds great, especially with its cues from the Batman games, it unfortunately lacks the finesse and grace found in those games, and can feel clunky and, much like the stealth, shallow in comparison. It doesn’t quite flow, and even with all upgrades acquired there just seems to be a general lack of moves and abilities, and the combat is very repetitive. While the combat lacks variety and has a noticeably limited number of moves and animations, it does work well together with the stealth, and it can be fairly entertaining.
On their own, the stealth and combat aren’t the most exciting, but together they have merit. It’s just, I’ve experienced more entertaining and varied combat with plenty more moves in previous Spidey titles such as Spider-Man 3, Web of Shadows and Shattered Dimensions by Beenox. It’s just a little sad because this is actually not a bad game overall, and if a little more had been put into the combat and stealth this might just have been a winner. However, it does shine in some of its great set pieces, which includes a stunning aerial battle with lethal Spider-Slayers, an intriguing tangle with Black Cat and a very cool section towards the end where Spider-Man is in serious trouble, and I won’t spoil much more. It’s too bad that most of the game’s other boss fights are weak in comparison, and don’t quite use the same scale and imagination. They’re basically just repetitive one on one fights where you’ll need to dodge and hit back until it’s over, or just web to slow whoever you’re fighting down so you can hit them. At least for once the fight with Rhino isn’t about making him crash into a wall so you can jump on his head and drive him around. It’s about making him crash into a couple of Spider-Man made web fences, with electricity flowing through them, so you can punch him in the eyeball. See? That’s progress.
But really, if I wanted to criticize this game, it’s obvious that I could find a lot of things to slate it for. At the end of the day though, it does have merit, it feels fresh and what I found to be the best thing about this game is that despite its shortcomings, it doesn’t at all feel like a cheap cash-in license game. It feels like Beenox made genuine effort with this one, and that The Amazing Spider-Man is its own game with its own identity. I suppose credit can be given here for the decision to make the game an epilogue to the movie rather than to try and awkwardly fit it in. And even though it doesn’t quite reach greatness, it’s a step back in the right direction after last year’s Edge of Time, and it does a lot right. Hopefully, Beenox will live and learn from this, and put more emphasis on gameplay depth and variety in future Spider-Man games. Although if you’re like me and you’re still waiting for a Spider-Man game on par with the recent Batman titles, then I guess the wait isn’t over yet. Ah well, one day surely. And besides, there’s always this game, Shattered Dimensions, Web of Shadows, Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man and a number of old gems like Maximum Carnage to feel good about the webslinger in gaming.
The game is quite lengthy if you decide to do the side missions, city activities and obtain the collectibles in addition to the story. You can easily play it for over ten hours. If you just pursue the main storyline alone, you’ll probably get it done with quickly. However, for serious Spidey freaks or achievement whores, there’s a lot to enjoy here by means of unlocks. You can acquire a variety of additional costumes for Spider-Man by completing the game, finding the hidden Spider-Man logos in Manhattan and achieving a one hundred percent completion rate. Then there are hundreds of comic book pages to find scattered all over the city, which unlock full comic books for you to read in the main menu, which is extremely awesome. You’ll get to read up on the first ever introduction of Spider-Man as a super hero in comics, his first encounter with the Lizard and various other villains and a few others. Then there are also character trophies to unlock, much like in the Batman games, and some concept art.
The Amazing Spider-Man has good graphics, and that’s not really surprising after Beenox’s previous work. Spider-Man’s suit looks fantastic, especially as it tears and breaks apart the more damage you take. Other character models, such as your standard enemies, don’t look quite as good though, but the main characters and villains are nicely detailed. The city is vibrant and lively in its visual design, and will take on a number of cool appearances and colour schemes depending on the time of day. The in-door stages don’t quite match up though, as you’ll get tired of the bland and repetitive sewer and science lab environments fairly quickly. But being out in the city is the most rewarding, and the visual effects and camera angles when swinging through the city and using the Web rush mechanics are very exciting, and the game deserves credit for giving players an enjoyable sense of speed. On the technical side of things, I can’t really say I encountered anything serious or particularly frustrating, and that’s good.
In the end, The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t exactly an epic or memorable Spider-Man game for the ages, but there’s no doubt that it’s fun to play and it has a surprisingly fresh feel to it. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t cling to the movie, but rather tries to do its own thing and be its own game, and it’s clear that genuine effort was put into it. However, it misses being great, and it would have been if just a little more had been done with its gameplay and more variety had been injected into it. But after all is said and done, this is an all-round pleasant and decent offering that feels like it can stand on its own two feet, and if you’re just looking for an enjoyable Spidey game then this is definitely worth playing.