There's a moment in The Amazing Spider-Man (the film – and this isn't really a spoiler if you've seen the trailer) in which you first see his powers in action for the first time.
Wherever there's a hang-up, you'll find the Spider-Man
He leaps up and attaches himself to the roof of a subway car. He flips and swings and around the carriage like gravity's barely a factor in his life. "That," I thought, "looks fun
In fact, one of the things the film does really well is present coherent action sequences in which you can easily follow Spidey's fast, acrobatic movements. It makes being Spider-Man look like the most fun you could get out of the bite of a genetically altered arthropod.
Fortunately, there's a game to help you out with that. Unfortunately, that game – while not being awful - doesn't quite make the most of letting you do whatever a spider can.
The last few Spider-Man
games – Web of Shadows
, Shattered Dimensions
and Edge of Time
– have, in the absence of any film to tie in to, leaned more into the Webbed Wonder's comics exploits than they have his filmic adventures. With a brand-spanking new film out, though – a reboot, no less – Activision and developer Beenox have dived back into movie land. More or less, anyway.
Set after the end of the film, it necessarily includes some spoilers for the film. That means this review also contains a few mild SPOILERS
for the film. You're not going to get much by way of spoilers for the game, though.
So, with Curt Conners in jail Alistair Smythe is running the science show at Oscorp. He wants rid of the cross-species creatures his company's been working on and plans to have them destroyed. (One of the creatures is scorpion-like, one's rhino-like, etc. There's at least a suggestion that these beasts are the classic supervillains established in Spidey's early days, but it's all kept very vague). Things go tits-up and they escape, spreading a mutated virus in their wake and with Smythe's robots – which seem to have very little regard for property or human life – in pursuit. Unfortunately your spider-squeeze, Gwen, is among the infected and it seems to be up to Spidey to sort it all out.
It's a pretty good set-up for having lots of things for Spider-Man to punch without giving the script too much explaining to do.
Where the last two Spider-Man
titles went for more focused, linear gameplay, ASM
brings back the open-world Manhattan of older games in the series. Play follows a pattern familiar to anyone who's played anything set in a sandbox environment before – core 'story' missions that have to be tackled in sequence dotted across the map, coupled with non-essential side missions and exploration to be pursued at your leisure.
The missions are usually of the standard, 'fetch this, get in here, punch that until it stops moving' sort. Some of saving the city requires a touch of stealth in much the same vein that we've seen in Beenox's last two Spider-Man
games. At other times, the way to make the city a safer place is to punch things as much as you can and not worry yourself about who can see what you're up to.
Combat takes the one-button route popularised by Batman: Arkham City
. Rather than stringing together elaborate combos, your job is to press [X] at appropriate moments and to press [Y] when your spider-sense goes off and you need to dodge something. You can complement this simple system with assorted ranged, web-based attacks, use of the environment to beat baddies round the head and stealthy manoeuvres (which we'll get to in a minute).
Unfortunately, where combat in the Arkham
games is fluid and elegant, in ASM
it's a bit spammy and the timing feels off. This is mirrored in the rest of the game's controls. They feel twitchy and your point of view often changes at such a rate that it's difficult to keep track of what's happening.