Release Date: Out Now!
Platforms: Playstation 3, DS, 3DS, Android, Wii, PC, IOS, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Thanks to Activision for providing a copy of this game for review.
Remember how back in 2009 a little studio called Rocksteady decided to make a super hero game? This game was Batman: Arkham Asylum, the one super hero game to come out in many years that was finally something unique and wholly awesome. Looking at The Amazing Spider-man, then, you can see that Beenox loved Arkham too, so much so in fact that they decided to copy and paste over a vast majority of the things that make Arkham so unique. Luckily for them, it works…
And this isn’t just some subtle mix of features like we’ve seen before with Gears of War creating a wave of cover based shooters, oh no, everything from the stealth gameplay to the free-flowing counter attack based combat system is all very familiar.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, Spider-man, while essentially a movie tie-in game but not, starts out a few months after the recent movie reboot. Peter Parker, not one for the traditional approach to things, decides to go on a sneaky date with Gwen Stacy to the Oscorp laboratories. There they find out that Doctor Conner’s research on cross species hasn’t really been stopped. Unluckily for Peter he’s one of the few cross species that didn’t become a raving lunatic in the process and inadvertently riles up the captured cross species experiments.
All this takes place in a first person semi-cinematic which sets the mood surprisingly well. As you may have guessed, shit gets real when Scorpion, Rhino and all the other cross species break out of their cages. Turns out any contact with them infects normal people with a virus that eventually turns them into a cross species themselves. And so, it’s up to Spider-man to put things right.
The game is split up into, effectively, three sections. There’s your main internal ‘brawling’ missions that you’ll get from the main story line, usually seeing you busting inside certain buildings (Or sewers, cause who doesn’t love a good sewer level) and beating the snot out of every bad guy you can find. On the flip side of that you’ve got the stealth missions that see you taking down crooks in an extremely similar way to Arkham’s stealth gameplay with various takedowns from behind and above. While these missions make up the bulk of the storyline and side missions they’re not where Spidey shines.
Fortunately between missions, and occasionally in the main storyline itself, you’ll be treated to free reign over the city of Manhattan, Spider-man’s playground. This is what Spider-man is all about with the web swinging mechanics being an absolute joy to behold allowing you to have full control over the direction, height gained or lost and speed of the swinging by timing them just right. While the web swinging is rather dumbed down from the excellence of Activision’s Spider-man 2, which saw you being able to attach web to certain objects and to loop to loop around flag poles and such, the feeling is still there.
Alongside the web swinging, which never gets old I might add, is the new web rush ability. Now this is something Beenox hasn’t ‘borrowed’ from Arkham. Web rush is the ability to designate targets or locations in the world that, assuming Spider-man can get to them, will trigger an interruptible context sensitive action. For example, swinging through the streets of Manhattan and need to catch that flying robot squid in a jiffy? Activate web rush while near a building a Spidey might zip towards it, wall run along the outside and backflip off it towards the target.
It’s all very cinematic stuff all without breaking up the action, giving the game that little bit of Spider-man flare it needs and the true sense of Spidey’s enhanced speed and reflexes.
While you’re in the free roam of Manhattan in between the main story missions you’ll be given a couple of side missions to complete along the way all accessed via the menus and map on your ‘Osphone’ (Yes it’s like an iPhone…). These missions are relatively simple with a car chase and thug beat-em-up being the main two while races and short stealth missions make up the rest. There’s not overly a lot to do but it certainly helps to break up the monotony of the main story missions as well as giving you more time with the awesome web swinging.
However, there is an actual point to completing side missions as each help you increase your tech points and character level. And what do points mean? Super high-tech spider powers of course! Through tech upgrades you gain many passive enhancements to your abilities such as more web range and damage resistance. Character upgrades are where you unlock your new abilities however.
While there are quite a few to choose from the all felt rather underwhelming however. Where Batman’s abilities in Arkham City all felt useful and packed a punch Spider-man’s range of powers all seem rather wasted as many seem to be just simple augmentations to the equally basic combat system. The one exception to this rule is the web cyclone, an ability that sees you swinging thugs around your head while they’re attached to webbing and eventually letting them fly in a certain direction. It really feels a little lackluster compared to Activision’s original greatness in Spider-man 2 which saw you able to launch foes into the air, tie them to lamp posts and various other tricks.
I suppose that’s one thing that wasn’t carried over from Arkham, the overall polish on the game feels somewhat lacking. There’s a lot of missed opportunity in regards to powers as I mentioned, there free roaming isn’t very in-depth and most of all, the combat system is downright weird. Sure it’s essentially a copy of Arkham’s even down to the flashing lightning bolts above Spidey’s head indicating you to face plant the nearest goon but it just doesn’t feel right.
The problem here seems to be that a lot of the abilities that could have been made into intense combo moves such as with Arkham City’s A+B = Insta-kill button button instead the design team has incorporated that into the simple button mashing combat system, having Spidey automatically whirl an enemy up in the air and pile drive them into the ground with the tap of the attack key.
While this certainly makes for some flashy combat scenes, when the animations actually look smooth that is which is unfortunately rare, it’s all a little too simple.
If that wasn’t enough the stealth gameplay is extremely simple as well owing to Spider-man’s wall crawling abilities that allow him to swoop down and web up any enemy for an instant takedown. Granted, the wall crawling is done well, even if it does risk giving you vertigo sometimes, but there’s little to stop you tying up an entire room of enemies with relative ease. Even the quick escape from combat we saw in Arkham in the form of the grappling hook is in with Spidey zipping to safety on a nearby wall at the push of a button.
One thing I will praise about the combat however is boss fights, especially those that take place in the free roam of Manhattan. Fighting a giant robot snake, and I’m talking as long as the empire state building is tall, is one of the high lights of the game which sees you swinging in and out of buildings as the giant automaton ploughs through skyscrapers and rips up roads behind you.
What it seems like Beenox is trying to achieve is a base for a new series, much like Arkham Asylum did in order to test the waters but a much more reserved version, one that doesn’t take any risks and unfortunately, doesn’t bring much new to the table. While the outdoor boss fights are certainly a sight to behold and great fun to play through the combat is disappointingly simple.
The Amazing Spider-man is by no means a bad game however. The story is well written and fun to play through and the web swinging and exploring is just fun in itself but there definitely seems to be something missing.
All I can say is roll on the sequel Beenox and let’s hope you try something a little more original the next time round…
+ Pretty Interesting Storyline that follows on from the movie.
+ Free roam web swinging never gets old.
+ Copy’s many of the good things from the Batman Arkham series.
– Combat is a little too simple.
– Combat animations sometimes seem a little strange.
– Doesn’t bring anything new to the Arkham formula except for web swinging.
Again, reminiscent of the Arkham games with its semi-realistic feel but nowhere near as detailed.
Great voice acting from all characters involved especially Spider-man as he delivers his witty one liners to unruly thugs.
An overall good story that’ll keep both fans of the comics and the film interested throughout. Don’t expect to be wowed though…
It’s essentially Arkham City but instead you’re Spider-man and don’t have nearly as many cool abilities as Batman. Or any for that matter…
The game should take you around 7 hours to complete and with only a few collectables in the form of comic books and extra costumes to collect there’s not much to keep you after the main story is over.
The Verdict: 7
Pretty much Arkham City with a less interesting story line, not as flashy graphics and an extremely dumbed down combat system. Better luck next time Spider-man…