As a longtime Spidey fan, I felt that 2012′s The Amazing Spider-Man was a strong movie tie-in and a very solid game. Activision has decided to port the game to PlayStation Vita, way after the film came and went from theaters. This is a bit of a strange move, but the game still holds up well in its transition to the Vita’s small screen.
After a tour through the OsCorp building with Gwen Stacey goes horribly wrong, Peter Parker must don the red and blues to save Manhattan from a viral outbreak. It’s here that we’re given a breakdown of some of The Amazing Spider-Man’s mechanics, before being unleashed into New York’s incredible urban environment. Though the Vita port’s graphics have been downgraded, it’s still incredibly fun to swing through the city, run up buildings, and angel dive off Manhattan’s most well known landmarks. By holding down the right bumper, 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.
The Amazing Spider-Man plays a lot like the Arkham games with web-slinging thrown in. But truly, is there a better game series to take notes from? The combat incorporates fluid animations, a reversal system, and some killer combos. Spider-Man is not Batman, though, and the developers have made sure to make the combat 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 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. 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 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. 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 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. 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. Steven Blum and Nolan North also do a great job here.
It isn’t all amazing, however. There are definitely areas The Amazing Spider-Man Vita 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. 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.
While Spider-Man and the main characters look pretty close to their console counterparts, the environment has been drastically downscaled to essentially a PlayStation 2 level of detail. Even so, the framerate struggles to keep up. While it’s great that the devs at least tried to bring the full console experience to handheld, instead of porting the 3DS version of the game, I still think that they could have done a better job. I was also disappointed to discover that the Vita port of The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t have any of the DLC from the console version. I’m also kind of surprised that they didn’t seize the opportunity to include the new suit from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a solid Vita port with some flaws that can be overlooked, especially by the hardcore Spider-Man fans. If the framerate was improved through a patch and the DLC was released, it would be a more compelling purchase. As it stands this is a fun open-world Spidey handheld game, of which there were previously none.