As everybody knows my favourite comic book super-hero is Spiderman. OK, so maybe nobody knows that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Out of all the main comics I’ve always taken a shine to Spiderman. Something about the character and the superpowers that I find appealing, and in particular the ‘Amazing’ Spiderman is my favourite. It’s this series of Comics in which *SPOILER* Peter Parker *SPOILER* is a young teenager, rather than the more grown up superhero characters, which as a young adult myself (or y’dult) I can relate to. I’ve always enjoyed his powers too, and the fact that he’s so smart. Inventing his own web shooters? That’s cool. The Amazing Spiderman video game is chronologically placed after the Movie which has just released in Cinemas, which for a video-game tie-in is actually rather strange. More often than not you either play a prequel story or live out the best parts of the movie. Is The Amazing Spiderman a video game worthy of your time, or should you just play Spiderman 2 on Gamecube. (this was the last Spiderman game I played, whoops).
Without spoiling either the Movie or Game’s plot/story, I’ll mention the bare minimum. As an origins story it naturally features Dr Connors, also known as the Lizard. OSCORP plays a huge role in the video-game, as does Alistair Smythe, though he didn’t feature in the movie. You save the day inbetween swinging around Manhattan and generally feeling like the best Spiderman in town.
The core gameplay is that of a beat-em-up, with elements of sandbox gameplay and stealth, and overall it is very similar in style to that of Arkham Asylum/City. The combat is reminscent of Batman’s current generation efforts, with an emphasis on countering, as is the stealth based aspects which I believe are actually very effective, with the only problem being their ease. In between missions which sadly take place (largely) indoors, you can swing around an accurate recreation of Manhattan at wondrous speeds, wondering all the time how the young Parker doesn’t feel incredibly sick at his own haste.
I would at this point really like to point out the incredible similarities to Arkham City, and just say fair play to Spiderman. The combat, stealth and overall style are very similar. The problem here is that Arkham City did all of these things spectacularly, so why wouldn’t Spiderman want to? The combat system refreshed what I believe to be a very stale genre. The mock-open-world nature of the title was enjoyable in comparison to going from one mission straight to the next. The side missions were in their own way somewhat fun to do, and broke up the monotony of beating hundreds of thugs to a pulp. It may not be new, but it is damn good. The fighting feels fast and out of control but it absolutely isn’t. The stealth is a lot of fun as you can climb on any surface, meaning different approaches are viable. Overall, though similar, Spiderman does still have it’s own thing going for it. I’d much rather a game be like something else and do it well than try something new which is ineffective.
Exploration of Manhattan is a lot of fun, and unsurprisingly (for some, anyway) this game does look a lot like Prototype 2, another game published by Activision. The webswinging I think is a great and unique aspect of the title, as it allows very fast and satisfying traversal of Manhattan, in comparison to older/other Spiderman games. The other main way of exploring (as well as a key feature of the gameplay) is the new Web Rush mode. Holding RB shows a first person view of the world while time stops, and pointing the ol’ Web Head at a feature will make him interact with it. If it’s the flagpole on the side of a building he’ll jump towards it. If it’s the radio mast, he’ll mount the top. If it’s the entrance to a building he’ll access it. It also works during combat too, allowing an easy method of picking out targets and focusing them, or prioritising certain environmental hazards, such as enemies with guns (see below) or turrets.
While you’re exploring Manhattan you’ll come across citizens that need help, and other minigames to fill the time. As well as this you’ll quickly start acquiring comic pages, of which there’ are 700 spread across the island! There’s something sort of satisfying about web-rushing inbetween pages, which you quickly adapt to doing at a decent rate. The controls for webswinging are very pickup and play, and you’ll find yourself whizzing across the island at an incredible pace. The minigames include rescuing citizens who have (very smartly) placed themselves in alleys with thugs, stopping vehicles escaping, time trials, police chases, and returning citizens to hospitals or police stations. I said the word citizen way too many times in that last paragraph. Whatever. Overall, the side missions add a lot of length to the game, but are very repetitive in nature, as they are (except from location) generally identical. Car chases in particular are a disaster. Land on car roof. Tap B. Dodge shotgun with Y. Repeat.
If you read the paragraph that said the game is similar to Batman, the key area would be the combat. Instead of creating new ideas for itself, it completely steals the whole premise of combat, even down to enemy types, attack types and enemy weaknesses. The countering is also identical. At the beginning of the game, you find yourself against regular enemies who simply require bashing of the attack button to defeat, but later on you get enemies that can only be killed with special attacks, some where you must attack from behind, enemies that require being stunned and incredibly infuriating gun-toting baddies. Combos require hitting X to attack and dodging with Y when the prompt tells you to, but you can also use webrush and your webbing to chain together attacks, keeping long distance enemies in the fight. I praise this, as the combat doesn’t feel tied up to just one area. One of the main differences, and also one of my only nitpicks, is the lack of a healthbar. Instead, you get the FPS style red-screen mode from Call of Duty. It doesn’t really work with the style of game, where any visual representation of your remaining HP would be useful.
The graphics in Spiderman are suitable for the style of game. The city does look pretty good, but enemies are repeated and generic. Kudos however, that the enemies (especially the new supervillains) actually look fantastic, as does Spiderman himself. Spiderman’s costume itself takes damage and tears and stuff inbetween the chapters, to quite a gruesome extent. Though it doesn’t look like Crysis 2 or any of the other eye-watering masterpieces, but Beenox have done a great job here. Compared to other Spiderman games it looks a lot better, and the open world environments make a nice change from Edge of Time that was exclusively indoors. The sewer segments also look really great, and the contrast between the indoor sets (laboratories, sewers etc) really highlight a different type of scenery, which I praise. The HUD is uncluttered and always clear what you’re doing or where you’re going. I like the mobile phone GPS/map system, as it seems so Peter Parker.
The sound in Amazing Spiderman is good, and features a great cameo from the great Stan Lee, but doesn’t feature the original actors from the new movie. Which is a pity, as I absolutely love Emma Stone. So much. However, the voice-actors do a pretty good job in sounding like their much-more-highly-paid-original-guys. The sound effects are neat, with particular attention to (once again) the robotics effects. The machines sound great. Some of the one liners than Spiderman quips are a lot of fun too, and feature pop-culture references. Better than previous Spiderman efforts, and overall an enjoyable set of voice actors and sound effects.
One of the cool things about collectibles in this, at least for me, is that every threshold amount of Comic pages you collect while exploring NYC unlocks a Spiderman comic you can read. Like, a full Spiderman comic. For me, as a fan of Spiderman, this is about the only in game collectible I’d feel inclined to look for, because the prize/reward is actually neat. I’d much rather unlock comics than just collect things solely for achievements or to get ’100%’, so fair play.
That said, the combat is effective and the boss battles in particular are a highlight. Once again though, I won’t mention much about these as they potentially contain spoilers. The overall combat is fun and doesn’t grate too much on you. While playing, defeating enemies and exploring (and collecting!) you gain XP, which is used to level up and unlock new abilities. Also, defeating various robots and OSCORP branded enemies awards Tech Points, which you use to upgrade your various gadgets. This makes tracking down lost crazies easier, as well as other actually useful perks which I cannot currently think of. Maybe shooting your blasters quicker? I’m not positive.
My only other major gripe with the title would be the overall difficulty level, or lack of it. It’s very easy to get too into the combat and not dodge, but providing you hit the Y button when prompted you will counter any attack, therefore not getting harmed. Also, the LB is an ‘escape’ button, which is just ridiculous in its own way. If you ever get too low in combat, or are overwhelmed by snipers or any of the other enemies you hit this and escape to the roof. From this, you can then go back to stealth attacking enemies. Generally speaking, an area can be cleared out without ever actually fighting a lot of enemies at once due to the ease of Stealth takedowns. I refer once again back to Batman, where stealth takedowns could only occur from Gargoyles. On Spiderman, since you can crawl on any surface (eg roofs) it’s very easy to stealth takedown enemies. Though my explanation is actually shockingly bad, you’d understand if you play. What this boils down to is during The Amazing Spiderman you will very rarely die unless you massively mess up. Even on the hardest difficulty combat never poses and serious threat, and the most dangerous thing usually ends up being the very annoying environmental hazards, which are textbook themselves. We’re talking steam, weird green stuff, water! Look out, Webhead!
One of the things I can happily say about this game, more specifically for the genre, is that the game has an adequate amount of length. Completing the main story and side missions can take around 10 hours, and if you factor in different difficulties and all the collectibles (700 comic pages, mission exclusive collectibles) you’re looking at a decent amount of time.
The Bottom Line.
The Amazing Spiderman is a solid title in the superhero-beat-’em-up genre. It’s easily the best Spiderman game we’ve had on consoles for a long time and a worthwhile companion to the movie. Though I’d of probably preferred a tie in or a prequel, the sequel territory this game crosses does it with a sense of panache that I’ve never really seen or expected from a movie based game. Though a lot of what this game features are things we’ve seen before they’re still done excellently in the Amazing Spiderman, and deserve praise for it. The Amazing Spiderman does the webhead justice, and gamers wouldn’t go far wrong in checking out this title for their web-swinging fix.
Gameplay: 8 – The combat is very functional (thought I swear I’ve seen it somewhere…), the webswinging is fun and addictive, web-rush is a great addition to the exploration and combat and collectibles are fun to look for.
Longevity: 6.5 – Quite long for the genre, offering somewhere around 20 hours for multiple difficulties and collectibles.
Graphics: 7.5 – The environments and Spiderman/Main Bosses look great, as does the city of NYC itself, however other people on the street and generic villains detract from the overall aesthetics.
Sound: 7 – The sound effects are swell and the imitation voice actors do a good enough job.
Accessibility: 2 – The controls are pick up and play, and the combat feels familiar.
Presentation: 2 – The HUD is efficient and streamlined, and the menu screens are easily navigated.
Immersion: 1 – Though the story doesn’t reel you in, the webswinging and comic collection can fill time in without you even realising.
Innovation: 1 – Webrush is a great new addition, but overall it’s still just a fighting game.
The Amazing Spiderman – 7.5/10
This review is based upon a release copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game. The Amazing Spiderman was provided by Activision for review purposes.