The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review (PS4)May 8, 2014
As a lifelong Spidey fan, I enjoyed Beenox’s 2012 movie tie-in The Amazing Spider-Man. It wasn’t perfect, but it had a fun combat system and a wonderful open-world version of Manhattan to swing through. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 mostly improves on the formula, offering tweaked web-slinging mechanics, a larger environment, more unlockable costumes, and the ability to play as Peter Parker. It’s still not perfect, with numerous glitches, repetitive side-missions, and questionable voice acting, but Spidey fans will be able to overlook the game’s problems and have fun with it.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 starts off with the player taking control of Peter Parker, moments before his Uncle Ben is shot in the street. After this some narration brings us up to speed on the goings-on in Peter’s life, and then we’re swinging through the updated environment of Manhattan at night in the iconic red and blues.
It’s here that we’re given a breakdown of some of The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s mechanics, such as the streamlined web-slinging ability and refined combat system. Taking cues from the PlayStation 2 classic Spider-Man 2, webbing must now attach to buildings and skyscrapers, as opposed to the sky. The web system can be upgraded, and familiar abilities like Slingshot can be used in tandem with new abilities like Web Rush, creating an engaging, exhilarating traversal system.
With this new system, the left trigger and right trigger buttons control webs from each of Spider-Man’s wrists, and holding both shoulder buttons mid-swing builds momentum. It’s a bit more difficult to master than the previous system, but it’s more satisfying and interactive. That’s not to say it’s not without its flaws, as I frequently got hung up on walls and random rooftop objects, breaking the sense of immersion. This is especially frustrating in missions where you have to tail a target or during race missions, but for the most part the new system is an improvement. It’s incredibly fun to swing through the city, run up buildings, and dive off Manhattan’s most well known landmarks.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2, like its predecessor, takes many cues from the Batman: Arkham series for its combat system. While the system is hardly original at this point, ASM2 incorporates very fluid animations, a reversal system, and plenty of webs and acrobatics, which makes it feel unique.
There’s plenty of stuff to do in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, such as collecting comic book pages, snapping pictures, rescuing civilians, completing races, and more in addition to the main story. There’s also plenty of unlockables, ranging from figures and concept art to classic comics and costumes. Stan Lee once again makes an appearance as the owner of The Comic Stand, a small comic shop where you can go to check out the cool stuff you’ve unlocked. You can also visit Aunt May’s house to see what new suits you’ve acquired; there’s a huge selection of threads this time around, including the iconic Symbiote suit, Spider-Man 2099, the Iron Spider armor, the Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man suit, and many more that I won’t spoil here.
There are also a few points throughout The Amazing Spider-Man 2 where you get to control Peter, walking around environments and taking pictures as well as engaging in conversations with Harry Osborn, the Kingpin, Felicia Hardy, and more. These moments break up the gameplay well; most of the indoor gameplay revolves around Peter rather than Spidey. His alter-ego mostly gets to freely roam throughout the urban environment, rather than the claustrophobic, mundane lab rooms and sewers of the previous game.
Morality plays a rather large part in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. If you put off side missions and let crime take over the city, the people will view you as the menace that J. Jonah Jameson paints the wall-crawler as. There are constant threats to the safety of the people of New York, such as ticking time bombs, burning buildings, high-speed chases, robberies, and so on. Unfortunately, this system isn’t handled as well as it could be, and the story makes it so that Spider-Man is hated throughout much of the game anyway, so it’s a bit pointless. If you manage to keep the city clean of petty crimes, Whitney Chang will praise your efforts on the news, the people will cheer you on in the streets, and your suits will gain attribute points. If you’re a menace, Jameson will spew his usual venomous slander, citizens will yell at you and your suits will become weaker.
On PlayStation 4, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 certainly looks respectable, with a smooth frame rate, nice lighting effects and 1080p resolution. Still it’s quite obvious that it’s a last-gen port, as plenty of rough textures and blocky models rear their ugly head throughout the campaign. I was actually taken aback by just how pixelated the textures on some of the unlockable suits were, such as the Cosmic Spider-Man costume. I know that the PS4 can do much better, which makes ASM2 at times feel like a bit of a lazy port. The load times can also be frustratingly long – another element that should definitely have been improved for the next-gen release.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an enjoyable but very familiar experience. While I applaud Beenox for overhauling the combat and web swinging systems, as well as providing a wealth of great unlockable content, things like repetitive side missions, some rough visuals and bad voice acting bring it down a notch. Still, Spidey fans will find plenty to enjoy about The Amazing Spider-Man 2.