The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun, free-roaming spiritual successor to Spider-Man 2.
Gameloft has created some of the best mobile games out there in the past. The Asphalt series, the N.O.V.A. series, the Dungeon Hunter games, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem. They’ve also made countless movie adaptations, and they continue that tradition with The Amazing Spider-Man. Far from a lazy cash-in, The Amazing Spider-Man incorporates a full 3D world to swing around, like its console big brother from Beenox and Activision (review here), based on the brand new movie (review here). It’s not fair to compare this game to its console brethren, which takes advantage of far superior hardware. But for the purposes of this review, I’ll be comparing Amazing Spider-Man to Spider-Man 2, the 2004 PS2 classic, which it has quite a lot in common with.
When you first boot up The Amazing Spider-Man, the first thing that will strike you is the open world. It looks great for an iPhone game (this is the version I reviewed). If you could picture an HD remake (so popular these days on the consoles) of Spider-Man 2, this is essentially what TASM looks like. If you have an iPad, the game looks far better, as far as I can tell from screens and the game’s trailer. You’ll probably be sidetracked swinging around the game’s fully realized Manhattan for a while before you get anything done- it was the same way for me when I reviewed Beenox’s console version. There’s something just intrinsically fun about swinging past skyscrapers.
Amazing Spider-Man is a bit different from its console brethren in that it isn’t a sequel to the movie- this game basically follows the plot of the film, where Dr. Connors tries to formulate a serum to regrow his arm with reptile DNA (which never does go well). He becomes the Lizard, and then decides he wants to make the rest of the city mutant lizards as well- you’ll have to stop him from releasing the strain across Manhattan.
Once you get down to the bulk of Amazing Spider-Man, which is beating up criminals, you’ll find even more similarities to SM2. The combat system is quite similar, although the moveset is all new. It incorporates Spider-Man: Total Mayhem’s web button, which you can hit mid-battle to shoot some web balls or throw a criminal with your webbing. There’s also a Spider-Sense button that will pop up when you are in danger, and once you get the timing of combat down you basically have a very simplistic version of the Batman: Arkham City combat system (also present on the console versions). You’ll even get to upgrade Spidey’s combat and suit, etc. For the most part the battles are fun, but for some reason the boss battles almost always utilize a system or fighting, then a chase, then fighting some more. This would be fine normally, but the game’s controls aren’t that great when it comes to getting around quickly, and if you can’t chase the dude down quick enough (they’re faster than a speeding bullet), you have to restart the whole mission. What? That’s just lazy design. Why can’t I at least start back at the beginning of the boss fight? This is by far the most annoying aspect of the whole game, and caused me to shut it off in frustration more than once- and I usually have the patience of a saint. The game also has a frequent lag or frame rate drop (at least on iPhone/ iPod Touch 4G) which can be annoying mid-battle. It’s mostly noticeable when swinging through the city quickly.
Another letdown in Amazing Spider-Man is the voice acting. I could stand some bad V.O.’s from the criminals or lesser characters, but I expect Spider-Man to sound at least somewhat convincing. I’m sorry to say that this Spidey is the worst I’ve ever heard- worse even than the Spider-Man from Web Of Shadows. Extremely whiny, cringe-worthy and just plain laughable when he tries to yell at and intimidate thugs. I applaud the devs for at least putting voice work in at all, though, as I suppose they didn’t have to. The score is pretty good, and sounds as if it’s pulled right from the movie. Sound effects are serviceable.
Just like in the console version, and Spider-Man 2, there are plenty of side missions to keep you busy after you complete Amazing Spider-Man’s roughly 6 hour campaign. There isn’t much in the way of unlockables, aside from one suit (the black suit from Spider-Man 3, which will take you forever to earn), and the aforementioned upgrades. However, for a mobile game, it has a definite replayability factor, and you’ll definitely come back to swing around when you’re bored. Overall, it’s a decent companion to the movie and its console brothers, with some flaws that can hopefully be toned down through future updates. Throw in some more suits, too Gameloft! The console players get about 10 extra suits in their version…