The Amazing Spider-Man Review

by on July 18, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man ReviewGame: The Amazing Spider-Man

Developer: Beenox

Publisher: Activision

Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, 3DS, Windows PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

Well then true believers, we have returned to the world of Spider-Man in video game form thanks to the recent release of The Amazing Spider-Man movie, directed by Marc Webb (who possibly has the most perfect name for someone involved in a Spidey movie) and starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Beenox have been hired to create the video game movie tie-in and have crafted a game with some features from their previous games, Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time, but with a healthy helping of open-world traversal, optional side-quests and other aspects which bring it more in line with the earlier Treyarch games.

Should they have kept to what they know, or have they managed to bring the open-world aspect successfully into their games? Does The Amazing Spider-Man suffer from the usual negative effects of being tied to a recently released movie? Will we all be surprised? The answers to all these questions and more, will be answered in the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man…or at least the review for it. EXCELSIOR!!

The Amazing Spider-Man - Screenshot 1

STORY: The story in The Amazing Spider-Man takes place after what happens in the movie of the same name, as such, if you don’t want the film completely spoiled for you, then you probably should go to the cinema and watch that before you start playing this new video game. The story follows Alistair Smythe, a robotics specialist with Oscorp – voiced by the man who seems to pop up everywhere, Nolan North – who has created a series of deadly machines who can detect, apprehend or, if need be, kill any cross-species that they come across. The only problem with that idea is that technically, Spider-Man is classified as a cross-species, so as well as beating up all of the escaped half man/half random animal villains running around the city of New York, you’ve got to avoid all of Smythe’s creations in the process.

The story is well written and is enjoyable from the beginning all the way through to the end, it’s not something that’s on par with the Spider-Man comics but it’s certainly good enough to keep players playing for the long term. I can’t help but think that the story would have been much better if it was written by actual members of the Spider-Man Brain Trust (Marvel writers who are dedicated to writing Spider-Man stories) but as it stands it’s still one of the better stories in a video game that is tying itself to a movie of the same name.

GRAPHICS: The last couple of Beenox Spider-Man games have proven that the developers know exactly how to make a game look good. The way that Spider-Man moves through the city is excellent, often reminiscent of the comic book version of the character instead of the previous open-world games which have featured an entirely more stiff web-head when it comes to the swinging animation. The island of Manhattan itself looks good too, providing you don’t get too close to the ground, because if you do you’ll start to notice that there’s only a couple of models for the civilians and it won’t take you long before you’ll start seeing twins of each other, often in the same part of the street. The vehicles suffer from the same problem as the civilians, often repeating the models within the same area of the game world, removing any sense of immersion that the player may have. If you stay above most of the action, concentrating on swinging through the world or involving yourself with the game’s missions, then you’ll be treated to a true visual feast. None of the graphics really push the boat out, and are comparable to the previous Beenox games, but even so they are still certainly in the worthy of being in the upper echelon of graphically pleasing video game titles.

The Amazing Spider-Man - Screenshot 2

SOUND: When you’re talking about a game that lives or dies on by its story like The Amazing Spider-Man, then the most important part of the sound design is the voice-acting. Thankfully the voice-acting in the video game version of The Amazing Spider-Man is excellently done. None of the actors from the film version of The Amazing Spider-Man have reprised their role here but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead Beenox have hired some top-notch voice talent in the form of Sam Riegel (Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV Show), Kari Wahlgren (Emma Frost in Wolverine and the X-Men TV Show), Steve Blum, Nolan North and Claudia Black; no video game fan, or Spider-Man fan, could have asked for a better voice-acting cast.

The only real negative when it comes to the sound design is that nowhere near enough one-liners have been recorded for the game to run through its duration. Many players will simply get bored with Spider-Man saying the same things over and over again. For a character that’s supposed to be clever, witty and charming, it really doesn’t do him justice.

GAMEPLAY: If you think of the gameplay in The Amazing Spider-Man as a cross between the last couple of Beenox Spider-Man games and the last few of Treyarch’s run on the titles then you’re probably not going to be far wrong. While you’re outside, swinging through the streets of Manhattan, then it feels like those older titles, but when you’re inside Oscorp or the multitude of other buildings that comprise the main missions, then it feels very much like Beenox’s vision for the games where it’s a little bit more condensed and the swinging, open-world feel of the game gets suddenly replaced with an emphasis on indoor traversal and combat.

Having said that though, The Amazing Spider-Man’s indoor sections do feel much better than the previous Beenox titles. The clunky combat system and difficult to master traversal mechanic have been replaced with a particularly fluid combat style (courtesy of the Rocksteady’s Batman games) where you find yourself feeling like Spider-Man. Once the Spider-Man “Spidey-Sense” indicator appears over Spider-Man’s head, a quick press of a button and he’ll perform a counter attack against the offending goon. Do this enough times, practice enough at it and you’ll be controlling Spider-Man as he performs some truly “Spectacular” moves which feel like they’re straight out of one of the comic books or the recently released film.

The other new addition to the game is the Web-Rush mode. When this mode is activated the entire world slows down around Spidey and he’ll be able to pick an area of the world that he wants to get to next. The game will then take over and use the different assets of the game’s world to get to that point of the map. While this new traversal method does feel a little bit clunky to begin with, when you get used to using it, as well as when it’s most appropriate to use it, it helps the game towards feeling like a Spider-Man game.

There are plenty of side missions to get stuck into if you don’t want to move straight on to the next story section, but these do tend to get a little repetitive after a while, especially considering that Spider-Man only has a couple of set dialogue options for each of the side-missions that are available (there’s only so many times you can listen Spidey tell a civilian to “stay frosty” after you’ve rescued them before it starts to get a little bit drawn out). There’s enough variety to keep people interested enough to do them, but only barely, even as a life long Spider-Man fan I found myself only completing the side-missions to clear the map in a sort of completionist mentality, not because I actually wanted to do them. There are some glimmers of hope in the form of a bank robbery committed by the Black Cat, or some police/armed gunmen shoot-outs, but more often than not you’ll find yourself chasing after cars, rescuing civilians or racing around the city collecting flares for the Xtreme Journalist who’s riding around New York in a giant blimp (who, incidentally, is voiced by none-other than Bruce Campell). They’re a decent distraction from the main quest if you just want to spend some time in the city; decent, but by no means great (or “Amazing”, or “Spectacular” or “Friendly Neighbourho…” oh, that one doesn’t work).

The Amazing Spider-Man - Screenshot 4

LONGEVITY: If you’re the type of person that mainlines the story of a game and doesn’t bother with all the side content that the developers have so lovingly created, then you’re going to get about 6 to 8 hours out of The Amazing Spider-Man, depending on how long it takes you to do each of the missions. However, if you fancy yourself a bit of a superhero, and feel the need to help out your fellow man as you web swing around New York City then you’re probably going to find yourself racking up a significant amount of game time, somewhere in the region of 18 to 20 hours,  so well worth the price point.

Another source of longevity for The Amazing Spider-Man are the collectible comics that are dotted around the city. There are 700 of them in total and collecting them will unlock a slew of full comics for your reading pleasure in the ‘Extras’ section of the main menu. If you’ve never had the opportunity to read Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of our favourite web-head) then here’s your chance to do so.

VERDICT: There’s no doubting that to the eyes of a seasoned web-head, The Amazing Spider-Man is a return to some truly enjoyable adventures with our favourite web-slinger, but as a fan of video games in general, there are some major downsides to this latest Spidey tale. The entire game seems to borrow from the recent Batman games without any shame, even down to the fact that some missions will have you collecting audio evidence as you go around your daily business.

The Amazing Spider-Man is an excellent movie tie-in video game, one which fans of open-world superhero games will lap up. If you’re like me, and you love just swinging around Manhattan with Spider-Man, then this game is right up your alley. I just help wondering what the game could have been if Beenox hadn’t been given the tight time restraints of tying the whole thing into a movie. Hopefully we’ll get to find out with the next game that they come out with.

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