Review: The Amazing Spider-Man Swings Into Familiar, Problematic Territory (Wii U)
When The Amazing Spider-Man came out for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it ran into its fair share of monotony, but it also opened up a world that we had gotten used to with prior Spider-Man games on the PlayStation and Xbox, when Treyarch was in charge of the franchise. Beenox did quite a good job with the formula, creating a movie-licensed game that managed to live up to its material.
Now, nine months later, we're getting a port of the game for the Wii U, which not only includes all the original missions that it's become known for (main and secondary), but also the bonus DLC content included right on the disc, such as the Stan Lee chapter (where you swing around as the comic book legend, chasing after pages) and the Rhino Rampage mini-game. Convenient? Sure, if you're trying to save hard drive space.
But you can just tell that The Amazing Spider-Man is a pretty lifeless port. Despite being a solidly structured game, it's riddled with flaws, and you'll notice what comes up within the first few minutes of play.
Spider-Man is so badly polished on the Wii U that, if you weren't holding the bulky controller, you could almost confuse it for the Wii version. Despite the acceptable frame rate, the game has jaggy buildings and edges aplenty, as if someone forgot to turn on the smoothing effect. Also, there's screen tearing that's hard to look past, especially as you try to get the hang of swinging over the city. Finally, the load times are a bit ridiculous – even for comic book fare such as this. RPG's, we understand…but Spider-Man?
Fortunately, there are some things that Wii U fans will come to enjoy with this port. The Wii U tablet screen is put to good use with a map that shows you where all your objectives are, so you don't have to worry about going into a sub-menu to pinpoint your next mission. The off-screen TV play isn't bad either, though the jaggies and loading times still remain, even if screen tearing is healed a little bit. Yep, you can tell it's a port.
The sound is all right, with decent musical cues that kick in during the game's biggest battles and some acceptable voicework, including Nolan North as a character later on in the game. Hardly anything to write home about, but, on the other hand, at least Tobey Maguire isn't whining. Whew.
Gameplay is split into different types. The swinging-through-the-city segments feel pretty good, and the fighting has something to offer, even if it borrows quite a bit from the Batman: Arkham series in terms of counters and free-flowing combat. But still, better something functional than broken controls, like what Web of Shadows had. Sorry, but that game just didn't click for me.
It's best to stick outside when you can, because the inside missions can be rather limiting, especially when you're hunting down switches or trying to get through a puzzle area. Maybe it's just the way this port was conveniently wrapped up and not given more design thought, but it just feels like an off-and-on project, rather than a smooth flowing comic book tour-de-force, like last year's releases were.
The add-on DLC helps. The Stan Lee chapter is humorous in its own right, as watching him get around the city with Spidey powers is a genuine thrill that fans of Spidey won't get enough of. Rhino Rampage is fun as well, though some more stages would've been welcome. The other time trial stages are all right, at best.
Even though it's available at a slightly discounted price over other Wii U fare, The Amazing Spider-Man can't quite live up to the sum of its parts. It gives off that appearance of being rushed, despite the GamePad features and added downloadable content. Fans of the hero – or those seeking a decent addition to their Wii U library after so long of a drought – may want to give this a look, but don't expect anything on the Amazing level.
[Reviewed on Nintendo Wii U]