Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (360)

Stay frosty, web-head.

Cover from
The Amazing Spider-Man, contrary to the title, is not based off of the 2012 film of the same name. Developed by Beenox, the creative minds behind the two most recent Spider-Man games--Spider-Man: Edge of Time and Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions--, The Amazing Spider-Man is actually a sequel to the Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone movie reboot. Although the game is a movie tie-in, it does its best to feel like a fully-fledged game; while it can be a tad tedious at times, it's certainly a strong game in its own right.

Read on for the full review--but please be aware, there will be spoilers for the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man takes place sometime after the movie, opening with Peter Parker visiting girlfriend Gwen Stacy at Oscorp, the leading edge in technology in the universe's version of Manhattan. Scientist Alistair Smythe is doing experiments in cross-species genetics, the same concept that caused Parker to become Spider-Man. However, during the game's introduction, test subjects escape, spreading an infection that causes the citizens of Manhattan to mutate and become cross-species themselves. It is up to Spider-Man and his nemesis from the film, the Lizard--Doctor Curt Connors--to stop the cross-species and create an antidote for the outbreak. Their job is made harder by Smythe, who is sending out robots to kill every one of the infected.

Swinging through Manhattan is an absolute blast.
Image from and IGN.
The story itself isn't much to speak of, but it provides a good backdrop for exploring Manhattan and fighting baddies. The game's voice acting--unfortunately, not done by the film's stars--is strong, and the game's score does its best to help players feel the exhilaration Spider-Man himself feels as he swings from building to building. Spider-Man is his usual, snarky self, and Smythe is sufficiently misguided and infuriating. Personally, I had only two major complaints: Gwen Stacy, and the ending. Stacy cannot seem to make up her mind on if she's mad at Spider-Man for enlisting the help of the Lizard or if she just wants them to do what they can to save the city, and the ending feels cut short. Fortunately, a mid-credits cutscene alleviates some of the problem, but it could have been avoided altogether by omitting that element after its resolution. Although the plot is passable, the strongest part of The Amazing Spider-Man is its combat.

Using a system modified from Batman: Arkham Asylum, players take control of Spider-Man and websling through an open-world Manhattan, preventing petty crimes, stopping for photo opportunities, collecting readable Spider-Man comics, and fighting robots and cross-species alike. Spider-Man can punch enemies as his standard attack, but also uses webs for a variety of things, whether it's to launch himself at a robot, glue a half-human-half-crocodile to a wall, or temporarily stun enemies around him by throwing nearby objects.

The game includes a "Web Rush" feature, allowing players to slow down time and propel themselves across areas or at enemies; while this can make the game somewhat easy, it also allows for a fast, fluid combat system in which gamers can hit foes and immediately web away before switching targets into a new combo. Every enemy defeated offers experience points, which can be used to purchase new abilities--such as lassoing enemies and whipping them into others--as well as improve existing ones. The most memorable fights of the game are against Smythe's robots; swinging through the city while avoiding explosions and tearing them to bits is nothing short of exhilarating.

Textures on Spider-Man's suit as well as on enemies are excellent.
Picture from GamesRadar.
Honestly, I was impressed by the graphics in this title. The city itself is beautiful, and characters look realistic without lapsing into uncanny valley territory--with the exception of Gwen Stacy, who for some reason I could never accustom myself to. Spider-Man himself is gorgeously-rendered, his suit looking like real cloth regardless of any costume changes.

Having transitioned from The Amazing Spider-Man to Batman: Arkham Asylum, I can safely say that I feel Spider-Man is a much more fun experience. While Arkham Asylum feels more cohesive and has more variety of objectives thus far--and at the time of this review, I am no more than fifteen percent through that game--Spider-Man is much faster-paced and fun. The Amazing Spider-Man is a rare game that ties into a film without feeling like a cheap cash-in.

-Swinging through Manhattan is a blast
-Combat is fast, fluid, and fun
-Sidequests are integrated well with the plot
-Battles in the city are appropriately epic
-Comic-collecting unlocks actual Spider-Man issues in the menu

-Button prompts take up a large part of the screen mid-combat and cannot be disabled
-There is a lack of variety in missions
-Enemies lack variety
-Collecting comics becomes tedious with no radar for them until most of them are found
-Sidequest dialogue variety is lacking

Play it if: you are a fan of the comics, if you enjoyed the 2012 film, or if you're in the mood for swinging around Manhattan and beating up bad guys.

The game was completed over the course of several weeks, totaling approximately 14 hours for the main story and several sidequests. 

The Amazing Spider-Man is also available for Playstation 3. The Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii versions are similar games, but do not follow the open-world structure of the other versions.