The Spider-Man franchise has had a checkered history when it comes to video game versions of the web-slinger’s tales. Beenox, who’s been in-charge of the franchise since the critically acclaimed Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was released back in 2010, has shown promise to Spidey fans, only to fall back to a sub-par effort with Spider-Man: Edge of Time in 2011. For games looking to re-create the magic of comic books and movies, Rocksteady has set the bar pretty high with the Batman: Arkham franchise. Willing to accept no less than perfect with these popular franchises, Beenox has a tall order to fill with The Amazing Spiderman. With a corresponding cinematic release impending, all of the buzz has already been generated for this video game adaptation, but can Beenox execute more than just another movie tie-in cash-in.
The story in The Amazing Spider-Man the video game takes place where the movie leaves off. Oscorp Industries has created an army of robots that maintain peace in New York, scanning for infected life forms after Dr. Connors goes on his cinematic rampage as The Lizard. Oscorp has also continued Connors’ research into cross-species, and these walking infectious diseases have escaped into Manhattan, infecting innocents and Spidey’s high school sweetheart: Gwen Stacey. Spider-Man breaks Connors out of prison and together they’ll work to cure the infection in the city, and rescue his friend Gwen.
The biggest problem for these types of movie tie-in games hasn’t been in the story department however. It’s been in the cookie cutter approach to the gameplay mechanics, that has been the real underlying problem. A general inability to make the player beleive in the character that they are controlling and to engage them with something new and unique in the process. In the case of Spider-Man, confining this character into the tiny spaces that were found in Edge of Time, is self defeating. In The Amazing Spiderman, Beenox sets the player in an open-world with the ability to explore and swing to your heart’s content. The mechanic feels great, and for those that have seen the previous Spider-Man movies, you’ll get that same feeling Peter Parker did the first time he mastered his new abilities. That’s the feeling that Beenox was going for obviously, and it works. The open world is a setting for Spider-Man to shine, and the way that web swinging is both introduced and utilized throughout the game feels like this was one pillar of the design philosophy that was fine tuned to near perfection. Swinging through the city you’ll hear citizens talking about you, you’ll encounter crimes and other side-content to engage in, and there are also plenty of unlockable comics to find. Going hand and hand with the swinging mechanics is the new “Web Rush” mode. This mode allows Spidey to slow down time, target an item, enemy, or ledge while either in motion or standing still. It’ll give you full control of where you want Spider-Man to end up, and can be used to set up attacks, take-downs, stealth kills, or item pick-ups on the fly.
Beenox definitely impresses with these gameplay features in The Amazing Spider-Man. Coupling them with a cinematic presentation style, it’s hard to imagine a Spider-Man fan having many gripes with this type of experience. Though the developer does miss in a few key areas. While the combat definitely feels better than previous iterations, you can tell that Beenox has been using the Rocksteady cheat sheet when it comes to combat mechanics. Some pretty standard enemy types that’ll be easy recognized by those that have played Batman: Arkham City are fought in almost exactly the same fashion. In fact, alot of the combat feels very similar to Arkham City, though an extremely simplied version of it. Spidey just doesn’t have the cool gadgetry that Batman has, so many mechanics are reused throughout the entirety of The Amazing Spider-Man. Upgradeables will give you more variation to your abilities, and create significant combat advantages for Spider-Man as the game progresses. The Amazing Spider-Man is a blend of stealth, action, and acrobatics that ultimately provides a rewarding combat experience, but its definitely got some work to do before it rivals the best in class.
The Amazing Spider-Man Video Review
It’s not all roses in The Amazing Spider-Man. It can actually be quite a mixed bag. While the model for Spider-Man is exceptional, including a degradable suit, there are ten times as many average looking character models to be found in this game. The good part is, you only see the average stuff for a small percentage of the time. Driven by standard cut-scenes, the cinematics in this game are par for this generation, but feel like they could have used more polish to wrap together what is otherwise a pretty “Amazing” experience. Other detractors include some touchy inverted controls, and walking on walls or ceilings is somewhat disorienting. As is the case in so many third person action games, The Amazing Spider-Man also sees some camera issues. Engaging in a fight in certain positions, can paint you into a corner that brings almost certain death and inevitably, some frustration.
Though despite these few notable flaws, The Amazing Spider-Man can’t help but being the best Spider-Man game in recent memory. For every spot you find a lack of polish, you find one that is equally shiny making up for the mis-step. A decent story for those that are looking for even more Spider-Man after the July 4th theatrical release, The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t falter like so many other movie tie-ins before it. Beenox could have easily phoned this one in like Edge of Time, but thankfully didn’t. Capturing the essence of a dynamic character like Spider-Man can’t be an easy task, but Beenox is getting better and better at it, and this might.., no, this IS their best effort yet.