As a longtime Spidey fan, I have been highly anticipating both The Amazing Spider-Man (out in theaters tomorrow), as well as its video game tie-in from Beenox. After watching the trailers and checking out the screens, I truly felt like this game could belong to the pantheon of extremely rare, great movie tie-ins. After spending many hours with the game, I can assure you, it does not disappoint.
The Amazing Spider-Man Gameplay Video
After a somewhat lengthy tour through the OsCorp building with Gwen Stacey (which will look familiar to those who played Deus Ex: Human Revolution), everything soon goes to hell and Peter Parker must don the red and blues to save Gwen and Manhattan from a viral outbreak. It’s here that we’re given a breakdown of some of The Amazing Spider-Man’s mechanics, before we’re unleashed and thrown into the New York’s incredible urban environment. I cannot overstate how incredibly fun it is to swing through the city, run up buildings, and angel dive off Manhattan’s most well known landmarks. The sense of speed is astounding, and the visual effects, such as fantastic lighting, depth of field, and motion blur combine to give you the closest replication of Spider-Man’s on-screen theatrics yet seen in a video game. By holding down R2, you’ll swing effortlessly through the bustling city, run up walls (while shooting webs to pull you up) and jump back off in a fantastic series of animations. Combined with the game’s new Web Rush mechanic, you can pull off some seriously amazing acrobatics while moving through the city, and you can test out your web-slinging skills in the game’s Extreme Reporter side missions- featuring Bruce Campbell- nice touch.The question on everyone’s mind is, is The Amazing Spider-Man better than the classic Spider-Man 2 for PS2? The answer is undeniably yes- although the complaint could be leveled that it shouldn’t have taken nearly a decade to improve upon.
Yes, SM2 was beloved for being the first game to truly showcase how great a Spidey game could be, unshackling our hero from mundane swinging mechanics and setting him free on a fully-realized 3D Manhattan. But that game had quite a number of flaws, as well. The combat was boring and repetitive, and the side missions were even more so. The campaign was also rather short. The Amazing Spider-Man manages to address all of these issues, creating one of the most fully-formed, cohesive experiences yet for the superhero.
The Amazing Spider-Man pays a lot of homage to the recent Batman games, such as Arkham City. There’s even a few nods to the game in both the script and gameplay – early on you’ll need to help Dr. Connors (The Lizard) escape from an insane asylum, to manufacture a cure for the outbreak. Everything from the combat to the environment here is extremely familiar to those who played Arkham Asylum. But truly, is there a better game to take notes from? The combat now incorporates very fluid animations, a reversal system, and really makes Spidey feel like a badass. It’s not a direct copy, however, as Spider-Man is not Batman, and the developers have made sure to make the combat here feel much more acrobatic, even including some wrestling moves to put the Spidey stamp on it.
There are similarities between The Amazing Spider-Man and Arkham City in other areas as well, such as the lengthy campaign, huge amount of (fun!) side missions, combat and tech upgrades, combo meter, and a lot of collectibles (including a solid amount of costumes). It took me ten hours to complete the campaign, and I’ve only completed 45% of the game. You will definitely get your money’s worth with this title.
There are 700 comic book pages to collect in The Amazing Spider-Man, for one. The awesome thing here, is that when you collect a set number of pages, you unlock a full Spidey comic that you can read from the main menu. This is the first time Marvel has allowed this, and it utilizes Marvel’s great Digital Comics format. There are tons of other great side missions featuring Spidey’s villains, including some cool variations of classic baddies re-imagined as genetic cross-breeds, such as a creepy-looking Scorpion, Rhino, and more. You’ll battle humongous robots throughout the huge New York landscape, in truly epic boss fights that are fun and satisfying. There are photography side missions where Spidey has to take some shots for a local news reporter, who’s trying to help clear Spider-Man’s name in the public eye. You’ll stop random acts of crime, such as muggings and car chases. You’ll help S.W.A.T. take down Felicia Hardy, who’s escaped the asylum and is taking advantage of the chaos to rob a bank. As I mentioned before, you can do Extreme Reporter missions for Bruce Campbell’s eccentric character who lives in a blimp, apparently. You can grab onto police helicopters and help them take on local crime. I could go on, there’s seriously a lot to do in The Amazing Spider-Man.
Another great area of The Amazing Spider-Man’s presentation is the voice acting. No, the game does not feature the voices of the movie cast, but they could have delivered phoned-in performances like in the Sam Raimi adaptations anyway. Instead, the devs hired a very solid cast of voice actors, who do a really good job of adding depth to the characters. The actor for Spidey (Sam Riegal, interview here), in particular, truly nails the character’s sarcastic wit and adds a lot of humor to the proceedings. I can only hope Andrew Garfield does as good of a job in the movie.
It isn’t all amazing, however. There are definitely areas The Amazing Spider-Man could improve upon. One of my biggest gripes with The Amazing Spider-Man is that Beenox went above and beyond to create a fantastic recreation of Manhattan and make it incredibly fun to swing through, yet made quite a few of the story missions confined to underground sewers or claustrophobic, mundane lab rooms. These areas are not only boring to look at, but take away Spidey’s abilities to quickly traverse through the landscape, and incorporate plenty of obstacles (acid pools, steam pipes) as well as incredibly strong cross breeds that can only be safely taken out using the game’s stealth mechanics. These sections aren’t bad at first, but anyone who plays The Amazing Spider-Man for an hour can tell you that they definitely play second fiddle to the awesome Manhattan sections. Once you near the end of the game, you’ll be taking extended breaks doing the side missions above ground just to get some variety. I commend the devs on creating a lengthy campaign, but next time, let’s prioritize what makes a Spidey game fun, alright?
All told, The Amazing Spider-Man is a great movie tie-in with some flaws that can be overlooked, especially for the hardcore Spider-Man fans. Beenox has gone out of their way to develop the best Spider-Man game yet, and on that point they delivered. They still have a ways to go if they want to deliver a game on the level of Arkham Asylum, but when compared to Spidey’s recent offerings, Beenox has knocked this one out of the park.