Reviews// The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Posted 9 May 2014 12:25 by
There was a time when it wasn't 2014 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might have seemed like a decent effort at a superhero game.

It was a time before Batman: Arkham Asylum, inFamous or, hell, even Saints Row IV. It was the year 2009. Unfortunately, half a decade has passed since then and ASM2 is decidedly lacklustre.

While ASM2 shares a title with the latest film from Sony, it doesn't share its plot. It doesn't really share its continuity, either. Spidey's been at superhero-ing a little while and decided it's about time to track down the killer of Uncle Ben.

This sets us along a path that leads to a city-wide gang war, the discovery of the Carnage Killer hunting criminals, the appearance of a high-tech, Oscorp/Wilson Fisk-funded army of 'crime fighters' and the decision by Kraven the Hunter that he's going to make the Webbed Wonder into a better predator.

As a set-up for having Spidey swing around an open-world Manhatten and fight a bunch of guys, it's solid. So, that's a relief. The stuff of great Spider-Man stories it is not. Other things ASM2 doesn't share with the film: character likenesses; voice actors; a tight focus on action; a sense of drama; a main character you can really care about.

But, one thing at a time. In terms of structure, not a lot has changed since Beenox's last crack at the Spider-Man license. You have an open-world Manhattan, core story missions and side missions. In places your missions consist of straight-up combat, in others the focus is on stealth and at other points it's about making use of your speed and agility.

The only really notable new game element Beenox has brought in is a 'hero or menace' system that sees Spidey rewarded for cracking down on crime with the inattention of the Oscorp martial goons.

Fail at that and they'll take pops at you. It's a variation on the good/bad systems we've seen in the likes of inFamous. Except, of course, the demands of licensing and fidelity to the source material means Spider-Man can't be very bad, so we're left with a watered-down version where very little changes in the character himself and it's all about the world around him. There aren't really any big choices to be made here.

Unfortunately, just as the overall set-up hasn't changed much from the last movie set-up, neither has much by way of gameplay mechanics.

As in the predecessor, combat is mostly about timing with the left face button serving as your basic attack, top face button as evade and a variety of ranged (mostly webbing-based) attacks complementing them.

Unfortunately, there's a bit of a lack of connection between what you're pressing and what's happening on screen. It's not a complete disconnect, but the system's a bit spammy and lacks the precision that would make combat really good fun.

Similarly web-slinging, which should be exhilarating, feels awkward. Spider-Man practically invented the art of flinging oneself across the rooftops of high-rise buildings, and yet that type of gameplay feels so much more fun in the likes of inFamous, Assassin's Creed and even Activision's own [PROTOTYPE].

The problem is that Spidey's movements are too big and fast, and you end up just hurling yourself around the city knowing that if you just throw some webbing out something's going to stop you hitting the floor.
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