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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man


Dominic Dimanche

Developer: Beenox

Publisher: Activision

Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Wii

Release Date: Out Now

ESRB: T for Teen

 

This review is based on the PS3 version of the game

 

The most challenging gaming genre to develop for has to be adaptations that are based off of movies. For some reason, the result almost always ends in disaster. However, with the release of Beenox“s third adventure of our favorite webhead, The Amazing Spider-Man has the makings of being not only a good movie-based game, but more importantly a return to Spidey“s web-swinging glory days.

 

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For those who have not seen the latest Spider-Man movie, be warned that the game does include some major plot spoilers of the movie. So if you are the type who does not like having things spoiled for you, make sure to watch the movie ahead of time. The videogame version of The Amazing Spider-Man takes place after the events of the movie.

 

Connors a.k.a “The Lizard” is in prison and all seems well with the world, until a city-wide outbreak rooted in the cross-species gene splicing of Connors is unleashed on New York. With the city slowly succumbing to the virus, Oscorp“s new head of research, Alistair Smythe, unleashes his army of robots to destroy the threat of the cross-species menace – Spider-Man included. With little surprise, the onus falls on our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to save not only the day, but also all of New York.

 

The story itself is very well done with a few twists and turns added for good measure. Each character carries out their role with some solid delivery, but nothing Oscar-worthy (save for some scene-stealing performances by Bruce Campbell). The facial animations are a bit stilted but still convey a good sense of feeling. Among the cast, Spider-Man does a great job relaying the perfect blend of emotion and the signature playfulness of Spider-Man (though this may be helped along by the fact he wears a mask throughout the game).

 

While the story is a main facet, the most important development for Amazing Spider-Man is the glorious return of an open-world to swing through, and Beenox delivers on making the experience as visceral and fun as one would imagine being Spider-Man would be. The swinging mechanics are top-notch and provide a nice sensation of speed and momentum as you speed through the New York skyline: the surrounding blur as you gain speed mid-swing, the controller rumbles as you hit the apex, Spider-Man lets various yelps as he soars through the air – adding a serene sense of power and freedom as you go through the city. No other Spider-Man game in my opinion has nailed the swinging skills of Spider-Man better than this game.

 

One of the reasons for this is a particular feature introduced in Amazing Spider-Man called “web rush.” During web-rush, the camera goes into a POV through Spider-Man“s visors highlighting various spots on his surroundings that he can get to. Once you highlight a spot, Spidey will immediately make a B-line for that spot, doing various wall-runs, flips, vaults, jumps, and web zips to get there. The cool thing is that this can be seamlessly combed one after the other and even can linked into normal swings making swinging through New York a joy.

 

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Along with the swinging mechanic, the game“s combat and upgrade system takes several cues from a certain pointy-eared caped crusader. Spider-Man“s fighting style in the game is a lot akin to how he fights in the comics, quick, acrobatic, and physically impressive. As he fights, building up his combo meter, he is able to counter moves and blend them into some impressive throws and finishing moves like Batman in Arkham City.

 

There“s also a stronger emphasis on stealth with Spider-Man constantly tasked with taking down stronger foes by striking from the shadows of walls and ceilings. However, like a younger brother trying to emulate his older sibling, Amazing Spider-Man does not seem to get things as technically on point as Batman does, leading to moments where the counter move does not respond and I get pegged with a cheap shot or the stealth sessions of the game not targeting my foes well enough. In addition to fighting and stealth, Spider-Man is also able to upgrade his skills via leveling up to gain access to stronger moves and combos. He can also upgrade his tech, such as increased resistance to bullet damage or a faster web-firing rate by hacking into optional side quests to steal the data from secret compounds.

 

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However, nit-picks aside, the true draw of the game is definitely the open world. All across New York are countless side-missions and hidden items to grab. And for the intrepid Spider-Man fan, you can find hidden comic book pages which unlock full hi-res copies of iconic issues of Spider-Man to read. There are also several hints and Easter-eggs featuring other members of Spidey“s rogue gallery like Sandman, Vulture, and even Mr. Negative, which are all optional quests for those with a completionist itch.

 

The side-quests and missions go everywhere from stopping car-chases, to thwarting police deadlocks, to taking out petty thugs, and facing optional side-bosses like Rhino, Scorpion, and femme fatale Black Cat. Each plays smartly and each to the respective villains“ style of fighting. In the Black Cat boss fight for example, she employs a cloaking device which forces you to sneak about the walls and ceilings to hunt her down in a game of cat and mouse. These personal bosses also give way to battles against Smythe“s robotic foes which are always giant beasts that force you to fight though New York itself. They are the highlight of the game“s combat especially since they employ all the web-swinging tools of the game and force you to use them in fast paced quick-thinking ways.

 

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All in all, Amazing Spider-Man manages to combine many of the strengths of Beenox“s past Spider-Man games like the stealth aspects from Spider-Man Noir, the air battles of Spider-Man 20XX, and the quick battles of Spider-Man, but it also takes some of their weaknesses as well. While there are many missions to do – things can get a bit repetitive, and eventually it becomes a bit of a drag after thwarting your umpteenth car chase. While you are able to climb just about anywhere, the camera can get confused as what side is up and takes some seconds to readjust itself which led to me getting shot many times.

 

Despite its hiccups, Amazing Spider-Man manages to provide not only a good Spider-Man game, but also answers (most of) the calls fans had for a true Spider-Man game with an open world.

 


Pros:

+ Spider-Man does everything a Spider-Man should

+ Combat is impressive

+ Story is solid

+ Finally, an open world again!

 

Cons:

- Missions devolve into repetition

- Camera can get wonky

- Plays like Arkham City-lite

 


 

Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)

Good

 

While Amazing Spider-Man isn“t without its hiccups, it still delivers an awesome experience that can only become better with more tweaking and refinement. An excellent return to form.

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