The Amazing Spider-Man game returns to the open-world city swinging of 2004’s Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in, allowing you to swing your way through the New York streets and thwart petty crime and complete side-missions at will. However, this open-world city is unfortunately not the focus, acting more like a hub for developers Beenox to return to their tried and tested formula, placing Spidy back in internal environment with copious amounts of combat.
It’s not a terrible experience by any means but it is undeniably disappointing. The city swinging and open approach is constantly teased between missions but in order to experience the narrative it’s back to a strictly linear and confined style.
Fortunately the narrative makes the best out of the situation, tying in nicely with the recent film’s cast and events to stage a sequel. Spider-Man is caught up in a fight against escaped cross-species creatures and Oscorp’s robotic counter measure, which see Spider-Man himself as a threat. Calling on Dr. Connors (The Lizard) for help, Spidey breaks him out of prison and embarks on a quest to quell the chaos and save an infected Gwen Stacy in the process.
It acts as a clever – and relevant to the film – new set of origin stories of a few of Spider-Man’s more extreme villains, including Rhino and Scorpion, and moves along at the right pace to keep you engaged yet avoid severe repetition, which is remarkable in itself. The frequent combat walks the line of repetitive and for all the upgrades you can grant Spider-Man as you gain experience, very few have noticeable effects on your strategy and actions. Although the new combat system does attempt something slightly different for the franchise.
Combat is very similar to that of Batman Arkham Asylum and City, talking a more reactionary role as opposed to aggressive. It’s a fitting style that suits Spider-Man, however, the system is less refined than in the Batman series, partly because it lacks the same visual fidelity and impact but mostly because the move-set is so restricted and uninspired. Web abilities are woefully under used and a great deal of the time you’re forced to retreat from a fight, crawl on the walls and ceiling to safety, then reengage. Different enemy types require a slightly different approach, such as armed attackers requiring more cagey tactics and stealth takedowns, whilst the stronger foes can block frontal attacks, but variety is still lacking and it makes combat more of a chore than it should. It does however, encourage a more stealthy approach which once again fits the style of Spider-Man.
Exploration and movement out of combat is a true spectacle as Spidey performs some impressive feats of accuracy and acrobatics whether he’s swinging around the city or within a building or sewer. The web swinging is smooth with a great sense of speed and the new Web Rush ability allows you to jump and swing to any nearby point with absolute precision. Activating Web Rush slows time and casts a shadow of Spidey on the points you want to travel to, allowing you to very quickly move around with no compromise to accuracy. It does feel very automated though, making you highly agile and living up to the Amazing Spider-Man name, and is undeniably useful, but you yourself will never feel like Spider-Man and will instead feel more like his enabler. This is a feeling that crops up frequently throughout the experience.
Boss fights are full of quick time events whilst Spidey is performing his coolest moves and even the swing mechanic has a mind of its own, often not shooting out another web line to swing – no matter how much you press the button – until you’re inches from the ground. Indeed, The Amazing Spider-Man does a great job of recreating the Spider-Man style and grace, it’s just a shame you never feel like you’re the one doing it.
Though it feels wrong to break the flow and pace of the narrative, in-between missions you are free to explore the city, completing side missions and collecting comic books. Alternatively you can save them all up for after the story has been told, then explore to your heart’s content and even revisit missions to find more hidden collectables. The side missions keep things simple with muggings to prevent, infected civilians to save, escaped mental patients to recover, photos to take of specific things – similar to the Riddler challenges of Arkham City – and the Extreme Reporter – voiced by Bruce Campbell – challenging you to a handful of races and a video shooting mini game. Then there’s the collectable comic books, of which there are 700 to find. The horrendous amount of collectables is unlikely to engage the collection drive for most but for the insane it’s sure to keep you busy.
The Amazing Spider-Man spins a decent tale and acts as a great companion to the film, in fact it’s more than competent enough to stand proud as one of the best movie tie-in on the market, but it does feel at odds with itself; the freedom and space of the open city fighting against the linearly and confinement of the structured missions. It’s certainly an entertaining title but one that lacks the spark to entice you back for multiple paythroughs or remain an experience that sticks with you.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 05/07/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of The Amazing Spider-Man by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.