Awesome web-swinging around a surprisingly realistic recreation of Manhattan. It’s the highlight of The Amazing Spider-Man’s video game tie-in and probably why you’re reading a review as to determine whether you should play it or not. If that’s your end-game, The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t disappoint.
Of course there’s much more to a superhero game than the protagonist’s selling point, and in the wake of the Batman: Arkham series, half-baked movie tie-ins are no longer tolerated, even by the most loyal of fans. While Spidey certainly isn’t just another movie tie-in, it doesn’t reach the same high benchmark set by Batman.
The difference between The Amazing Spider-Man and the “Game of the Year” contending Batman: Arkham City is that Spidey is a direct tie in to a movie, whereas Batman was not. That was always going to hold it back in terms of narrative restrictions; although, I must confess that I’m yet to see the motion picture, it’s apparently an epilogue to those events. The science dealy going horribly wrong isn’t a great narrative, and feels boxed in by what came before it on the big screen, and some ridiculous notion that nobody is too worried about the murderous mutant creatures under minimal security.
If web-swinging around Manhattan is what you want, it’s what you’ll get in The Amazing Spider-Man.
Being thrust into the open, vibrant but generic world of Manhattan, New York, gives us an unparalleled viewpoint of what it would be like to be the web-swinging superhero. Holding down a single trigger is all that is required to simply control Pete as he jolts from one vantage point to another in supreme style. While it sometimes feels like his web must be attached to the clouds, moving into less populous areas – such as Central Park – will see the red and blue hero plummet to the Earth in-line with the basic laws of physics, avoiding certain death at the last moment.
Little is required on the player’s part, but we still feel in complete control through the joyous propulsion. For a more engaged experience, the Web Rush mode allows Spidey to web-zip by momentarily slowing down time and selecting a vantage point. There are a number of suggested locations when you enter Web Rush that will trigger a cool pose, but you needn’t be restricted by these; it can be applied to any surface.
For all its joy, The Amazing Spider-Man is about more than exploring New York’s rooftops, as you’ll be all too painfully aware after the 30 minute introduction. For an open-world game, the introduction is painstakingly linear, and a sign of what’s to come. Spider-Man has always been an outdoors kind of guy, something that is inherently reflected in the gameplay. The levels are split into indoor and outdoor missions; while each is enjoyable on its own accord for a time, the indoor sections begin to play on your patients far sooner than joyriding through the city.
Indoor missions are dominated by avoiding everything that will mercilessly foil even The Amazing Spider-Man. Walking into a pool of acid would relegate him to being not so amazing, and steam is an unexpended kryptonite. It’s here that the Batman inspirations come to the forefront. There’s actually quite a solid mix of combat and stealth, and although it isn’t as fluid as the Arkham series, the premise is almost exactly the same. Tap the right attack buttons, know when to dodge, avoid bullets, and be ready to trigger the quick escape mechanic.
Even with a touch of dropping on-top of unsuspecting enemies, these sections quickly blur into each other. They just aren’t as compelling as the free-roam locomotion. While the combat undeniably borrows from Batman, it doesn’t include the same brilliant timing mechanism and beneath its exterior is shallow button-mashing with little development. That isn’t to say it’s bad, but rather too easy. You don’t have to think about tactical combat as one man simultaneously fighting seventeen should.
As you will be spending a great deal of your time exploring the city, Marvel has been so kind as to license 10 full Spider-Man comics that can unlocked in high definition for your viewing pleasure. This is a fantastic bonus for true Spidey fans, with hundreds of pages scattered across the city.
If web-swinging around Manhattan is what you want, it’s what you’ll get in The Amazing Spider-Man. The story was always going to be far-fetched as a movie tie-in, and the gamplay is well in the shadow of Batman, a clear inspiration for the combat, at least on the surface. Beneath its Batman exterior, the combat mechanics are too simplistic and shallow, and the indoor missions quickly become repetitive. The Amazing Spider-Man is decent as a movie tie-in, but doesn’t come close to the new high standards of the superhero genre established by Bats.