The Amazing Spider-Man.
Based on the most recent film of the same name, this game follows the events on the movie. This is a little awkward as the game was released prior to the movie, though I’m luckily playing it only now. The last great Spider-Man game was based on Spider-Man 2, which was released on PS2 and XBox. I loved that game and it set a new standard for open world superhero games.
So can this thematically similar game triumph in the same way?
In the film The Amazing Spider-Man, Dr. Curt Connors turns himself into the Lizard, a cross-species hybrid that tears the city apart. In the climax, he releases a city-wide infection that affects the entire city. Well, in the game, we’re cleaning up that mess. Cross-species hybrids have gone crazy and we’re trying to save and rebuild the city. Some cross-species villains you encounter include the classics The Rhino, The Scorpion, and lesser-known villain The Iguana.
I love the concept, as it reinvents villains that might not have worked in this world as-is. Instead of The Rhino being a guy in a suit, he’s now a rampaging rhino injected with human genes. The Scorpion is now this twisted half-insect creature. We even see references to other villains such as The Vulture though we never see them in person (which bummed me out, I was excited for that). The concept works though and gives Spider-Man a reason to be cruising the city and creates plenty of side missions.
The core story is interesting and I’m glad it’s not just rehashing the events of the film. The story was interesting and actually pretty emotional, mostly due to some great voice acting. The villains we face are varied and a good blend of combat and quick-time events (QTEs) are incorporated in the boss battles.
In terms of side missions, we have some that are typical “take X to Y” but some are more engaging, such as taking photos for your reporter friend. These photo missions often result in references to other iconic Spider-Man villains that don’t appear in the game, such as Sandman, Hydroman, and the Vulture. There’s also side missions that result in new upgrades, as you steal Oscorp technology. I appreciated the diversity, though some got repetitive.
The biggest “What works” component has got to be traveling around the island of Manhattan. Swinging from building to building is incredibly satisfying (though sometimes logically impossible) and there’s a new “web rush” mechanic that allows you to slow down time and choose a precise point to travel to, which makes reaching ledges and specific landmarks easy. In combat, it’s also useful to slow things down and reevaluate who you want to target. While some missions got repetitive, I never really minded as both traveling and combat were fun and fluid.
What doesn’t work?
The biggest downfall of this game is the visuals. The character models are blocky and outdated, especially in closeups. The physics works for the most part but there are occasional wonky things. And then the game froze on me probably 5 or 6 times, almost enough for me to not finish. I was attempting side missions when it froze the last time and I had completed the main story, so I finally gave up.
If the game had been working perfectly, there are some slight problems. I mentioned earlier that there were nods and references to other iconic Spider-Man characters. I have to compare this to Arkham Asylum and Arkham City… In those games, especially Arkham City, there were optional side quests that actually led you to these characters, either with battles or cutscenes, but Spider-Man just teases you with one side mission and it’s not enough to feel worth it. I felt cheated when Hydroman didn’t appear in the sewers or when Vulture refused to show himself. Arkham City was clearly superior in terms of interweaving side missions and core central storylines, and creating gratifying side missions that paid off.
Spider-Man lacks some visual oomph and plays identical to Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, which can be a strength or can be seen as unoriginal. If you liked Arkham City but find yourself more of a fan of the web-slinger, you’ll likely enjoy this outing. Even if you don’t find much to enjoy in the storyline, the pure action of swinging throughout the city is fun enough to appease most gamers, though the honeymoon period may not last forever.