The Amazing Spider-Man is a strange game in that it’s a sequel to a movie that many people wrote off simply because it’s a reboot of a film franchise that ended less than a decade ago. For that reason alone many of the people who might want to play this game, which is actually rather well done, may be turned off. The story picks up moments after the movie ends and right away spoils who lives an dies in the film as well as many other events pertaining to the characters and how they relate to each other. For that reason talking about the game’s story will be incredibly limited in this review.
You’re Spider-Man! That’s right, Beenox Studios has developed a game that makes you feel like Spider-Man. Much in the way that Rocksteady has perfectly encapsulated what it’s like to be Batman in their Arkham franchise, Beenox has made a game where you truly feel the joy of Spider-Man. Too bad it’s story and side missions feel half baked and the voice acting is subpar.
The game, like I said before takes place right after the events of the same name. You play as Spider-Man and never Peter Park, as he tries to clean up the mess left by Doctor Curt Connors (The Lizard) in the film. The events are so closely tied together that the game finds a way to recreate many famous Spider-Man villains and tie them to the idea of cross breads or half man/half animal hybrids, each with with different abilities. Too bad none of them have personalities, prior identities or even really speak. Instead your big villain for the game is Allistaire Smythe, a nanomachine specialist who is dedicated to destroying the infectious creations that Connors is responsible for. Spider-Man wants to cure the population of New York which is quickly infected with a mutating virus that turns them into monsters and Smythe wants to use nano-bots and well… not so nano-bots to wipe them out.
Most of the missions involve swinging around New York from one location to the next, getting into a mission where Spider-Man is inside a building, fights several guards by using a combination of a simple combo system and stealth, and then maybe a boss fight. The two different boss fight styles involve the hybrid animals like Vermin who is a rat man, The Iquana who is basically the Lizard 2.0, Scorpion and The Rhino. You get zero back story on any of these villains and they don’t say a word. In fact the game goes out of it’s way to explain that they’re not even really humans, but rather they were created in a lab so gone are their dual identities, something that is a seriously wasted opportunity. These are brainless animal monsters, not men. Sadly these battles are just more difficult one on one fights where patterns are studied and mastered and much of it is attacking, countering and dodging followed up by hitting X a lot.
The second type of boss fight involves giant robots created by Smythe. These look like the giant snake Transformer in Dark of the Moon but are really fun to play against. These are big battles winging through the city. They feel free and while playing them you feel like Spider-Man. They do boil down to shooting a target zone with webs and then taking out the rest of the machine with pinpoint zip attacks, but it’s fun, and each is different enough from the last to feel bigger and badder as it goes along. The scale is really special, even if the level of destruction is faked and the city is fine after the battles are over.
Amazing borrows heavily from ideas that Beenox toyed with in portions of Shattered Dimensions, specifically the stealth mechanics. It’s not as blatant as “don’t step into the light” but much of the indoor gameplay relies on not being seen, swooping in and taking guards out in a single move. As you progress in the game, your abilities level up and all of this becomes easier. Even large crowds of villains are taken out with ease thanks to powerful webshooters that allow Web Head to stop baddies in their tracks and take them out one at a time. Also built into the combat is a flowing system much like Batman’s in Arkham Asylum/City, including a combo meter that allows your friendly neighborhood hero to dole out justice in big showy moves. This never feels as good as it does in Rocksteady’s Batman franchise, but it’s still better than what we’ve had before.
What really stands out in The Amazing Spider-Man is the open world, which does feel small when compared to many open world games, even Arkham City, but is fun to zip around in through the multiple web slinging options. There’s a quick zip mode that lets Spidey shoot from one target to another and a traditional trigger holding web swinging mode that works just fine, but in combination they’re perfect.
Manhattan, where the game takes place is littered with side missions. Getting people to hospitals or clinics, stopping muggings, taking down get away cars, speed runs and races, some kind of weird camera follow along game where Spidey shows off for Bruce Campbell who is flying a blimp for some reason, and more. There are also missions where you take photos for a reporter at the Daily Bugle, but these missions are distractions, and while there are a variety of types, the types themselves lack variety in how they’re played out. Much like the orbs in Super Hero open world hit, Crackdown, there are floating and hidden comic book pages littered through New York that Spidey has to collect to level up. As a bonus they unlock famous first time appearances of giant characters from the series which is pretty cool.
In the end The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the better movie tie in games and a better than average super hero game. It’s story is bogged down by the fact that it’s a sequel to a giant movie game rather than it’s own experience. Some gameplay mechanics are a little half baked but over all it’s an enjoyable game, a fun diversion and lays the groundwork for what could be the best Spider-Man game of all time. With the way Beenox is cranking these titles out for Activision you can rest assured that the next title they release will be better, more fleshed out and have a better story.