With the recent releases of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Beenox has found middling success within the franchise. While some enjoyed these games, fans grew tired of the linear nature and were left wanting to swing around the borough of Manhattan dodging taxis and civilians once again a la Spider-Man 2. Thankfully, Beenox listened to those cries and implemented free roaming into Amazing Spider-Man, but bigger problems await Parker after the movie credits roll.
The Amazing Spider-Man is not a retelling of the events that transpire in the film it shares a name with. This movie tie-in provides a fresh story, though this game will spoil some events of the summer blockbuster, but these spoilers should be common knowledge for webhead fans. Not long after the action of the film, Curtis Connors, better known as the Lizard, has been locked away in a mental institution, leaving one Alistair Smythe running the show at Oscorp. After learning that Connor’s research on cross-species genetics wasn’t fully abandoned after the Lizard’s rampage, Smythe intends to dispose of these gene-spliced abominations and turn the corporation’s attention to his nanobot technology. When the experiments break out in transit to the incinerator, a virus spread through contact with the monsters rapidly infects the citizens of Manhattan, entrusting Parker to clean up the mess and find an antidote.
Scorpion and human DNA rarely mix well.
Spider-Man’s more savage enemies help support the cross-species plotline. Thus, backstories have been changed to reflect the animals infused with human DNA. Unfortunately, this means that bosses are little more than angry beasts that merely resemble Spider-Man enemies. None are a true visage of characters we have come to know. While recognizable villains such as Scorpion and Rhino are present, other nemeses synonymous with the series such as the Vulture, Venom, and Green Goblin or Mysterio have been sidelined for nearly unknown adversaries – most notably the Iguana, essentially a weaker version of the Lizard.
With the success of Batman: Arkham City's combat system has come a multitude of games seeking to implement it into their own gameplay. The Amazing Spider-Man is no exception, although Beenox has not fully delivered the easy-to-learn, hard-to-master free-flowing feel and polish Rocksteady's Arkham franchise excels at. Animations walk a fine line between good and subpar, blows tend to glance over enemies instead of landing with bone-crunching effect, and combos loop with expected regularity. Parker's go-to move of launching a thug skyward and slamming the felon headfirst into the pavement repeats over and over and over.
In an effort to combine the styles seen in Shattered Dimensions, Amazing Spider-Man also includes stealth-based areas where Spider-Man can sneak along ceilings to take down armed guards but, much like the Noir levels of Shattered Dimensions, alerting a patrol faces the player with the difficult challenge of fending off multiple enemies touting automatic weapons (Spidey isn’t known for his ability to shrug off bullets). At least Spider-Man's suit accumulates battle damage steadily.
Be sure to stick to the shadows. You won't last long if you don't.
The gameplay truly hits its stride when it comes to web-swinging. Much like Spider-Man 2 back on the PS2, Amazing Spider-Man does a fantastic job of delivering a rush of adrenaline when performing aerial acrobatics as the player whips through the Manhattan skyline. To add to this, the camera has been purposefully pulled closer to Spider-Man to give the web-slinger a more kindred feel while flying through the air. Initially this close-up view can be disorienting, but after a few minutes the feeling fades. To boost playtime, many side missions, such as taking photos and stopping robberies require Parker's intervention, but these get all too repetitive as the events are always the same (in some cases word for word and shot for shot).
Visuals are decent for a movie tie-in, but are by no means the pinnacle of superhero licenses. A general dullness and smaller graphical hiccups, most notably with webs, hamper the visual fidelity. Stringing up enemies doesn't look good, as webs often appear on enemies, rather than flying from Spidey's wrists to the target. When using stealth takedowns, Spider-Man wraps up guards and suspends them from the ceiling, but the cocooning process consists solely of a wave of a hand and the cocoon appears.
Just hanging out.
As a whole The Amazing Spider-Man is good... for a tie-in. The cast of the film did not provide their talents here, and while it is very enjoyable and exciting to once again swing through the populated streets of Manhattan, several minor problems prevent Spidey from reaching the ranks of what Rocksteady has done for Batman. A thorough polish that doesn't meet current standards and missions that get repetitive make The Amazing Spider-Man an experience that is fun in the moment, but those moments do not leave a lasting impression of an upper-echelon licensed game.
Developer: Beenox Studios
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Number of Players: 1
Platform: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PS3, PC, Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS