Reviews// The Amazing Spider-Man

Posted 10 Jul 2012 16:48 by
Perhaps the most obvious addition to the control scheme is 'web rush'. By hitting the right bumper you can all but stop time and the screen will fill with translucent images of Spidey, indicating spots you can launch yourself to. You select one, come out of web rush mode and the game will do the rest. It's an interesting idea, but time is slowed down to such an extent that it feels like a get out of jail free card.

The stealth elements also feel very reminiscent of the Arkham games. You crawl around the upper reaches of an area, waiting for opportunities to drop down for a stealth attack that you set off with (again) the right bumper. Unfortunately, the subtleties of the Arkham games aren't present here, either.

Your options don't extend very far beyond 'drop down and web 'em up'. Furthermore, your ability to perform a stealth attack doesn't seem to be determined by line of sight so much as some sort of random, indecipherable algorithm in the game code that you're not supposed to figure out.

In aping Arkham Asylum/City Beenox highlights how The Amazing Spider-Man often misses the point. First and foremost, what makes the Batman games cool is the sense of having to actually think and fight a little like Batman. You have to assess a situation, figure out the environment and work out what tools you have to achieve your goals. But Spider-Man is not Batman, and gameplay mechanisms that give you a taste of what it's like to be Batman don't serve the same purpose in a Spider-Man game.

What's exciting about Spider-Man's powers is the way he moves with them. Towards the end of The Amazing Spider-Man (the film) there's a short sequence (don't worry, this is very un-spoilery, unless you live in a sensory deprivation tank and have no idea what a Spider-Man even is) in which you see him swing down an alley, combining webs, acrobatics escapes and wall-running to get from one end to the other. It's pretty exhilarating, even just to watch. And the best Spider-Man comics feature epic battles that blaze across the upper reaches of the Manhatten skyline with lots and lots of movement thrown in. It's capturing that that would make a really great Spidey game. I'm sure that somewhere out there there's a developer ? maybe someone at EA who worked on skate. or Mirror's Edge ? with a game in their head that treats Spider-Man like an extreme sports outing mashed up with skyline beat-'em-up sequences, but this is not that game.

It certainly has its moments ? usually involving massive robots crossing city blocks and rooftops to try to turn you into paste. In these sections you're flipping, somersaulting and all but flying round the city at high speeds, trying to find a line to get to your opponent and take it down. They're fast and, despite a somewhat simplistic web-swinging system, fun. They're not, however, the bulk of the game.

The game is also let down by a shonky script and an attempt to tie in to the film universe that doesn't quite come off. The lack of voice talent or even likenesses from the film is jarring and a bit of a let-down. You get the feeling that Beenox has been given some fairly strict parameters to work within and that, should the script writers of the next film feel like it, they'll just completely disregard whatever happens in the game. Little touches such as Peter having an apartment to stay in rather than Aunt May's house or the use of a made-up reporter called Whitney Chang instead of someone from the Daily Bugle (almost certainly because Beenox weren't allowed to use it) can lead to a whiff of inauthenticity.

Despite its many flaws, though, ASM is not an awful game. There's fun to be had using Spidey's abilities and, as I mentioned earlier, the open-air battles are enjoyable. The range of powers on offer stops things from getting too repetitive and it would take a real botch job to stop bouncing around an environment as Spider-Man from being any fun.

It's just, on the whole, a bit lacklustre.

Pros:

+ Airborne combat is fast and fun.
+ Plenty of content.
+ Spidey's powers offer a lot of range.

Cons:

- Controls can feel clunky.
- Combat and stealth lack depth and elegance.
- Attempts to tie in to movie leave it feeling a little hollow.

SPOnG Score: 6.5/10
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