Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can. Which, apparently, is copy off one of the most succesful superhero videogames ever made.

The Amazing Spiderman

PS3 Version Reviewed

You’d be forgiven if you thought The Amazing Spiderman seemed very like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series. Everything from the cinematic, pulled-in third-person camera to the stealth sections positively reeks of Batman  influence, taking the well-established and intuitive mechanics employed in the Batman games and adapting them to suit the needs of The Amazing Spiderman.

While copying possibly one of my favourite games ever isn’t a bad thing in any sense, The Amazing Spiderman is, unfortunately, not as good as Batman: Arkham Asylum/City. It is still a very good superhero romp, but repetitive tasks, a slightly clunky combat system and some confusing camera angles hold back Spiderman’s latest videogame effort from ever truly soaring.

Web Swinging

Ever since Spiderman 2 came out (a game I have very fond memories of) I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for web swinging. Since it’s pretty impossible for me to develop my own web shooters and the fact that most tall buildings in my part of the world consist of a 1-story mud hut means I’m pretty much grounded anyway, the Spiderman games have routinely been my source of web swinging fun.

In recent years the Spidey games have been somewhat lacking in the fun factor, but The Amazing Spiderman puts the fun back into web swinging by incorporating a few incredible simple but excellent techniques.

The Amazing Spiderman
 ‘Gah…out of web fluid…..AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH *CRASH*’

The first of these new additions is bringing the camera in closer to Spiderman. While at first a little jarring for Spiderman veterans, this new approach inside The Amazing Spiderman means that web swinging has a cinematic quality that its never possessed before. Once you nail down the exact controls and begin navigating Manhattan you’ll absolutely love just swinging around purely because it looks so incredibly awesome.

Developers Beenox have definitely hit another welcome addition to the Spiderman formula with the inclusion of a new move known as Web Rush. This handy move allows Spiderman to slow down time at any point, target an area he wants to zip off towards and land there with pinpoint precision. It’s also possible to perform the Web Rush without slowing down time, and I found that as I played through the game I was incorporating both the Web Rush and the swinging mechanics together to craft a web-swinging experience like never before, and I have to say it is by far the best web swinging mechanics seen so far in a Spiderman title.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a few other aspects. Wall-crawling – perhaps one of Spiderman’s most important moves – can be an incredible chore because the camera will routinely wander away from Spiderman and leave you totally confused as to where exactly Spiderman is.  Generally this only happens during the indoor sections, but it’s still jarring all the same.

In fact the indoor sequences are perhaps the game’s weakest point. I’ll get more into that later, but I can tell you that you’ll probably spend more time outdoors than inside simply because the web swinging is so damn fun.

The Amazing SpiderBat Combat System

Remember how I said this game borrowed a lot from the Batman: Arkham series? The combat system in the Amazing Spiderman is almost entirely lifted out of Rocksteady’s fantastic Batman games, adapting the system to the fighting style of Spiderman. It’s a much more fast-paced affair than Batman, but it ultimately isn’t anywhere near as rewarding as the system found inside Rocksteady’s masterpiece.

The Amazing Spiderman
                                  ‘Calm down. I didn’t know Mrs. Rhino was your wife.’

If you’re unfamiliar with how this kind of combat system works, it works on a simple level as an attack/block when appropriate mechanic. You wail away on enemies as Spiderman until his Spider-Sense flashes, prompted you to press the block button and deflect the incoming attack before once again resuming your pummelling.  There’s also a few other moves mapped to different buttons such as web-shooters, web rush and a few contextual items scattered around the environment which can be used to thwack enemies.

As you start the game anyone who played Batman will find the system an absolute walk in the park. In my first fight (I’m a seasoned Arkham City veteran) I managed to instantly chain together a 60x combo, finding myself purely in comfortable territory. I felt as if it was the perfect match, bringing together Spiderman’s unique style with a great combat system, but the fun soon wears off when the game throws obstacles in the way that routinely break attack chains, use cheap tactics and generally stop the combat from being fun.

Such cheap tactics include slightly more brutish enemies that can’t be attacked from the front (this breaks your attack chain if you try) and given that they look hardly any different from regular henchmen you’ll really struggle in the midst of a fast-paced fight to realize you’re about to hit one.  There’s also a severe problem of having an enemy being slightly away from the main pack of enemies – if so, these guys will routinely shoot at Spidey with both bullets and acid and promptly kill him as you’re busy fighting the other thugs. I lost count of the amount of times Spiderman was felled by these annoying enemies during the course of the game, and it ultimately detracts from what could have been a stellar combat system.

The Amazing Spiderman Stealth Superstar

I’m finding it hard to stay away from comparing this title to Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, but you the stealth sequences inside the Amazing Spiderman have obviously taken a few hints from Batman as well.

The Amazing Spiderman
Incy Wincy Spider…

Again, they aren’t done anywhere near as good as Rocksteady’s stealth sections which make you feel uber powerful and give you the power to cause panic and alarm amongst the people you’re stalking, but the stealth mechanics are a thing you’ll have to regularly employ to clear a room of idiotic henchmen.

When I say idiotic, I mean idiotic. The Amazing Spiderman seems to have a world that filled with the dippiest criminals in the land, seemingly totally incapable of detecting where Spiderman is as soon as he Web-Rushes off. If Spiderman is spotted, he’ll simply have to zip up to the ceiling and the enemies will lose him almost instantly, allowing you to then crawl above them, tie them up with webs and stick them to the ceiling.

That’s essentially the way the stealth system works. Spidey crawls across the ceiling, waits for a dude to wander underneath, pounces, ties him up and then runs away once more. It works pretty well, but for strange, unapparent reasons the game will routinely allow other enemies to spot Spiderman as he’s coming down, and there’s practically no way to know whether this is going to happen or not. It  sort of makes stealth redundant at times, as it seems more than a bit pointless to pick people off if you’re just going to be spotted every time you do it.

With some polish it’s a mechanic that could work, but because of these daft little elements which combine with the erratic wall-crawling camera I mentioned before, the stealth sections in The Amazing Spiderman just seem a bit irrelevant.

Amazing Repetition

Although web swinging around the streets of Manhattan is an absolute blast, unfortunately mission structure is not. Although entirely optional most of the time, many missions will require you to do the same easy task over and over again. Whether it’s taking a sickly individual to the hospital, stopping a getaway car that is always the same vehicle (even when there’s three of them at once) or doing some of the Xtreme races (which are about as Xtreme as Sunday Morning Knitting with Edna), there’s a massive sense of repetition.

I’m a completionist; I delved into these mission with reckless abandon, refusing to advance the story until they were all done. I was determined to stick through with that mentality until the end, but after stopping a criminal for the umpteenth time from mugging some woman I simply went for the ‘sod this’ approach instead and delved into the storyline.

Storyline missions generally consist of going to some kind of Oscorp facility/the sewers, working your way through enemies, navigating a few tricky platforms and then fighting a boss. There’s not a whole lot of variety here to be had in terms of missions, but the storyline is reasonably well told and is actually an epilogue to the events of The Amazing Spiderman movie.  I won’t delve into the plot for those who haven’t seen the movie yet (which you should – it’s awesome) but suffice to say this is a generally interesting little tale that is full of Spiderman witticisms and a few familiar villains.

The villains themselves unfortunately aren’t very well fleshed out. The boss fights are also incredibly easy to complete, as each boss generally requires you to complete the same old mechanics of pummel, dodge, pummel again, dodge, win.  There’s some cool little set pieces and the bosses that take place in Manhattan where you can actually webswing are far, far better than those that are confined to indoors.

The Verdict

Although by no means the perfect superhero videogame, The Amazing Spiderman is a respectable affair that’s let down by repetitive tasks, too much copying of Batman and not doing it as well and a general sense of repetition.

Web swinging mechanics are by far the best seen in any Spiderman game to date and there’s a whole load of hidden comic book pages and hidden outfits to find, so there’s still a lot of fun to be had here despite the game’s shortcomings.

Definitely worth a try!

Score: 7.5/10

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