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June 28, 2012

The Comics Console: The Amazing Spider-Man Review

I was really going to make an honest effort not to compare Amazing Spider-Man to Batman’s Arkham games, however, Amazing Spider-Man takes so many ques from Rocksteady’s Bat-Universe — right down to the Catwoman Black Cat missions — that it’s hard not to. And, like other games that have tried to clone the Arkham formula, it blew up in their faces.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Released: June 26, 2012
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
ESRB: Teen

This game takes place after the events of the film it’s based on, which is fine, but why the hell did it get released before the movie? There are minor aspects of the film that get spoiled by the game’s story, but more than that, it leaves new Spider-Man fans clueless as to what is going on in this fictional New York; and even worse, since they haven’t seen the movie yet and haven’t met these characters, there’s no reason for them to care. But if you’re a long time Spidey reader, you’ll be quickly adjusted, even if seeing the film first would have given this game the extra emotional thrill any movie tie-in desperately needs.

This is developer Beenox’s third go at a Spidey game, and though the last two weren’t total crap, the old saying is “third time’s a charm.” There were a lot of expectations to be filled by Beenox, and an opportunity to really show off what they could do…an opportunity that was wasted. An open world New York City is the environment a Spider-Man game craves, and we got that, but it tuned out to be more of the dumbed down simple Spidey gameplay we’re used to. In Spider-Man 2 (2004) for the Xbox, PS2, and Game Cube, web-swinging through the city was a challenge that was to be practiced and honed with a great pay off, feeling not only like you’re really Spider-Man swinging through the city, but you’re doing it with a precision that only Peter Parker has mastered. In Amazing Spider-Man, simply holding the right trigger will make you a perfect Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. It’s not a poorly developed mechanic, just not as deep as it once was.

The dumbed down web-swinging I can get over, but what’s hard to forgive is that so many years later, we’re still playing the same repetitive street missions. Chase this car, rescue this citizen, beat up these bad guys, blah blah blah. It’s all the same from eight years ago. It’s Spider-Man 2, but with the fun parts taken out and the boring ones left in. Why we are still playing the same five challenges from six Spider-Man games ago is baffling to me.

But there is only so much time you spend in the open city that is relevant to your progress in the city. NYC is just a hub for the closed in linear dungeon running levels we’re used to from the last two Spidey games.

The combat system is ripped right from the Batman Arkham games, but without all the finesse and things that make it fun and interesting. Stiff motion and off button timing makes putting your red webbed fist against a henchmen’s jaw is not nearly as exciting as it should be. Pressing the Y button will block an enemy attack when your spider sense goes off, but this motion isn’t as fluid as in Arkham. It’s choppy, giving it a kind of button delay feel like you’re playing a bad SEGA Genesis game. The left trigger zips you to a corner (much like Batman’s grapple gun), and you can even perform stealth take-downs on unsuspecting foes.

Over all, the game is too damn simple. It practically holds your hand throughout the entire experience. There’s little sense of discovery. It’s just six hours of following the same motions level after level. Repetition was Beenox’s biggest hurdle for this game, and it’s one they still couldn’t get over.

At least the Stan Lee DLC is still a hoot!

For once, the film’s cast is not back to reprise their roles in the game, and that’s fine, because you don’t need actors like Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone to spout out the crappy dialog this game is filled with. One of Spider-Man’s most endearing qualities is his wit once he’s under the mask, but at some point this aspect of his character became a license to shove even the lamest and nonsensical quips down Spidey’s throat with the intention that we’re suppose to think it’s funny. But it’s not just Spder-Man who’s filled with annoying one-liners and a¬†saucy¬†attitude; Whitney Chang, a rambunctious and mischievous investigative reporter, is there to make you want to strangle her, as well.

This game hurt my feelings. This was suppose to be the first (pun intended) amazing Spider-Man game in nearly a decade, but all it is, is the same recycled garbage we’ve seen over and over again. The Spider-Man franchise is so big that by now we should be getting the high quality kind of games that Warner Bros. is delivering with Batman; not just a yearly disc of friendly neighborhood mediocrity.

For more of The Comics Console, click here!

Andrew Hurst


One Comment

  1. SpidermanGeek

    Your review pretty much nailed my expectations of this game. I only needed to see 30 seconds of gameplay footage a while back to know that Beenox was going to give us the same old shit.

    My wife always asks my why I’m not more excited whenever a new Spider-Man game hits the shelf (since I’m a huge Spider-Man fan and an avid gamer). My response is that there technically hasn’t been a “new” Spider-Man game since Spider-Man 2. And even then, Spider-Man 2 was simply teh perfected version of what developers had learned from Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro and Spider-Man: The Movie.

    Although Edge of Time merrits a shoutout as it offered some originality. The perfected version of Ultimate Spider-Man and Web of Shadows.

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