Simple and derivative, yet web slinging remains a constant joy
Nine months after the release of Spider-Man: The Edge of Time and Beenox has already developed the latest in a long line of Activision published Spider-Man games. This quick turnaround and the justified animosity surrounding movie tie-ins leavesThe Amazing Spider-Man little hope of avoiding apprehension and a glut of disdain for what should be another forgettable entry in the superhero franchise. So it comes as a genuine surprise that the overworked Beenox should be commended for their effort here. Going from a game set within a single skyscraper to one delivered in a Manhattan sized chunk is no easy feat considering the timeframe. The open world of New York City has always provided Spider-Man with the ideal platform for his acrobatic talents and The Amazing Spider-Man is no different; rekindling memories of his most cherished adventure in 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
You’ll bound from the city’s most famous landmarks, gathering momentum as the camera zooms in to capture the sense of speed and exhilaration as you shoot out your webbing and fling yourself up and away from the sidewalk at the last possible moment. Unlike Spidey’s most recent open world ventures the web-slinging in The Amazing Spider-Man has been streamlined, allowing you to zip across the city with the press of a single button rather than having to worry about connecting with specific surfaces. It removes any sense of challenge but it’s still incredibly fun to zoom across the Big Apple’s skyline, aided by a zoomed-in camera that excellently purveys Spider-Man’s trademark traversal with cinematic aplomb. He’ll unleash a barrage of extravagant spins and rolls as you catapult him through the air, edging dangerously close to the bustling traffic before propelling into the sun-swept sky and up the side of a building. It’s simple, suitably flashy and oddly addictive, especially when you factor in Spidey’s new Web Rush ability.
With the press of a single button you can slow down time as you hurtle towards the ground, shifting into a first-person perspective that allows you to target surfaces and objects to zip over and on to. It adds another element to Spider-Man’s idiosyncratic brand of traversal, affording you more control over where you go. Highlight a flag pole in the distance and you can deploy Web Rush to quickly zip over to it with the panache you would expect, Spidey running along the sides of skyscrapers before flipping into the air and using his web slingers to thrust himself towards the pole.
It becomes especially handy when collecting the myriad comic book pages populating the streets of New York City. There are 700 to find so it’s a relatively large time sink, but collecting them with Web Rush is so fluid you can easily lose track of time as you zip from sidewalk to skyscraper collecting more and more. This is a familiar open-world city with a plethora of petty crimes to stop and civilians to save. Even Bruce Campbell shows up in his very own blimp to provide some extreme sports activities, but there’s a lack of variety in the side quests so they’re largely forgettable and easy to ignore.
Most of your time will be spent embroiled in a three-way conflict between Oscorp, a group of Cross-Species experiments and Spider-Man himself. The game takes place after the events of the movie so know that it will spoil elements of the film’s plot while going in its own distinctly comic book-style direction. There are gargantuan robots patrolling the streets and a slew of familiar foes like Rhino and Scorpion unleashing the requisite mayhem you would expect on the streets of New York. The story won’t pull you in with its characters or excellent writing but it’s a fun ride with some enjoyable moments, particularly towards the end, and it gives you a reason to go toe-to-toe with some of Spider-Man’s more memorable villains.
You’ll punch, kick and throw them with all the visual flamboyance Spider-Man is known for, though his fighting style is akin to a more brutish costumed hero asBatman: Arkham City becomes an obvious and constant source of inspiration for The Amazing Spider-Man. You’ll fight crowds of enemies, able to jump from foe to foe to build up a combo meter while counter attacking to avoid taking damage and unleashing Web Rush to zip out of danger or target an object in the environment to use as a projectile weapon. It’s a familiar but enjoyable fighting style, even if it lacks the fluidity, nuance and challenge of the Dark Knight’s recent escapades.
As you complete missions and defeat more enemies you’ll earn XP that can be spent on unlocking new moves and abilities. These range from increased health and damage output to stronger web attacks and a lower combo threshold before you can unleash Spidey’s signature attacks. There’s a lot to unlock but the effect of each upgrade is minimal at best. This is an extremely easy game so you never notice any enhancement in your abilities because there’s a lack of challenge from the first mission through to the last. Bumping the difficulty up improves matters but not by much, so it’s easy to breeze through with minimal fuss.
Once you do encounter more troublesome enemies – like those with heavy weapons – you can take the stealthy route, hanging from the ceiling to avoid detection before swooping down for a silent takedown. Once again, the influence of Arkham City is undeniable here as you’re often faced with a room full of patrolling guards and ample opportunities to take them out from the shadows. Like the combat, it’s enjoyable clearing an area of guards with Spider-Man’s particular set of abilities, but it also faces the same issues: a lack of challenge and comparisons with Arkham City. Its levels aren’t as tightly woven and you’ll be tired of trudging through bleak sewers and generic labs by the time all is said and done.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a weekend’s worth of fun and difficult to recommend purchasing for much more than that, yet that’s quite the accomplishment considering the extremely quick turnaround. Its web slinging provides almost endless joy and while its combat is familiar and simplistic it provides a solid foundation to build upon. Give Beenox three years of development time on a Spider-Man game and who knows what they could do? The disappointing truth is that’s an unlikely reality.