It’s pretty well regarded that the Spider-Man 2 video game was remarkable. It gave you all of New York to explore, a simple combat system, and, most important of all, Bruce Campbell was your narrator. The Amazing Spider-Man has two out of those three things, and while the King himself doesn’t guide you through the game, I still enjoyed my time with The Amazing Spider-Man.
In an awkward move to make the game longer and separate from the movie, The Amazing Spider-Man takes place after the events of the movie. The ending to the movie will be spoiled within minutes and you immediately know who lives and who dies, but honestly, if you’re a comic fan, you already knew what was going to happen. Spoilers aside, Spidey finds himself fighting a virus that’s turning everyday people into cross species (think lizard + man = The Lizard), an army of robots designed to stop the cross species, and an army of armed guards that protect the facility that makes the robots. What you need to take away from this is that there are three groups of enemies: guards, robots, and mutants.
Combat is quick paced, easy to perform, and astonishing to look at. Much like Arkham Asylum/City combat breaks down to stealthily taking out rooms full of guards or attacking a crowd head on. Crawling on ceilings and quietly cocooning enemies with webs becomes a staple in the game as it is often the quicker route. Head on combat consists of rhythmically attacking and dodging assailants with spider-like panache.
Boss battles are visually impressive. Taking down a robotic snake the size of a skyscraper is impressive in any situation. Though stylish, the boss battles feel more like a chore than an achievement. Giant robots are the highlight of the engagements, whereas fighting other cross species become repetitive and stale after the first punch is thrown.
You’ll spend the majority of actual missions either inside the Oscorp Tower (the evil corporation that made those robots and the virus) or in the sewers of New York. To put it sarcastically, it’s so much fun being Spider-Man in a tight enclosed area. Fortunately, developers have heard the pleas from the fans and have given us what we desire so much. In between major missions, you have all of Manhattan to explore. With a plethora of side missions, like stopping muggers, checking out the Staten Island ferry schedule or returning patients to the hospital, you’ll never be starved for something to do. The best part about the New York area is the comic book pages. Much like the flags in Assassin’s Creed, or the agility orbs in Crackdown, comic book pages are the collectible narcotic of The Amazing Spider-Man. There are over 700 pages and they are used to unlock actual readable comic books. Swinging around New York is fun enough as it is. By adding a collect-a-thon the developers have insured hours of time being spent exploring the city.
Aside from the excellent combat system and the seemingly endless amount of side missions, Spider-Man still has faults. The presentation is lacking a level of polish that could take it from being a B movie-tie-in game to a spectacular game of its own. The story and pacing drag out, and you’ll find yourself in the enclosed sewers or Oscorp tower much longer than you’ll ever want to be. The video game interpretations of the characters are flat and lacking. Of course the villains will be stoic and bare, but Spider-Man himself is nowhere near as witty and annoying as he should be.
Despite its shortcomings, I’m still glad I played The Amazing Spider-Man. I’m very forgiving of open world super hero games as long as the locomotion of the city is fun, and as long as there’s a reason for me to explore the city. The game feels like a combination of two separate entities. There are the interior areas that involve crawling on ceilings and stealth attacking everything possible. Then there’s the city. Outdoors feels like a completely different game. It makes me wish there was a standalone game that was nothing but stopping muggers and collecting comic book pages throughout the city. I’ll never play throughout the story again, but the game will always have a spot on my shelf because of the free roaming city.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of The Amazing Spider-Man provided by the reviewer. It is also available for the PS3 and Wii.