The Amazing Spider-Man review
Judging by their short but sweet track record, Beenox has done an impressive job with the Spider-Man franchise since taking it over from Treyarch. They’ve only produced three games thus far, but they’ve really outdone themselves with each one. Their debut effort, Shattered Dimensions, not only introduced great combat and beautiful environments, but also four characters compared to just the usual ol’ Spidey. The second release, Edge of Time, didn’t fare as well since it cut the roster in half, but still fascinated with an interesting time travel storyline and plenty of creative web-slinging moments. But it’s with the third, The Amazing Spider-Man, that you can tell the studio has truly arrived.
That’s because Beenox takes everything that it’s learned from the previous games and applies it into a formula that fans have been wanting for years, ever since the release of Spider-Man 2 – to be able to swing through New York with the kind of exhilarating freedom that Peter Parker has come to appreciate. And though the game isn’t without its objectives to be met, it’s really up to you how all of this is played, whether you just want to collect comic book pages across mid-town or teach baddies like Rhino and Vermin a thing or two.
The story follows the events that occurred in the film, with some slime named Alester Smythe taking over for Curt Connors at Oscorp. He’s trying to shut down the cross-breed project that infected Connors, but to no avail, as several hybrids escape, infecting a number of employees in the process – including Spidey’s main squeeze, Gwen Stacey. If that isn’t enough, Smythe, quick for a cover-up, has unleashed several large robots across the city, ones that are prepared to squash cross-breeds flat. Sadly, this means good ol’ Spider-Man as well. And that’s about all I can give away from the plot. Trying to avoid spoilers, kids.
What I can tell you is that Beenox nails every single aspect of the Spider-Man experience that it possibly could. The game goes all over the place, from swinging across the city to fighting in stylish combat to using your web-crawling stealth to get past rooms of enemies, taking them out one by one silently. (You can feel the Noir Spider-Man vibe here that first came up in Shattered Dimensions.) Let’s break down each one…
Web swinging: For the most part, it works marvelously, as you can use precision to go from place to place, between routine swings and your new Web Rush ability, which zooms into a first-person perspective and lets you choose your landing point. The only downside is it’s not entirely realistic, as Spidey is almost able to swing a web anywhere – even in wide open park areas. But you’ll be too busy being all acrobatic to care.
As for combat, it’s natural, and while not as smooth-flowing as, say, Batman: Arkham City, it works. Webbing up enemies is a good time, and your super techniques, like the web zip, really pay off on enemies at a distance. You can also web retreat if you need to, though zipping from the main combat to a safe spot can be a little disorienting at first. One huge addition is being able to use secondary objects in combat, like dumpsters and oxygen tanks. Boom!
(Note: there are instances where you have to do button-mashing, like taking out the flying robots above, but they're really not as bad as you might think.)
Finally, there’s stealth, using your web abilities to tie up baddies from afar or even using your web to silently track enemies. It’s very cool, though there are times you’ll be a little antsy hiding from folks. Sometimes patience pays off, though.
All of these tie together into a worthwhile gaming experience, one that truly makes you feel like the webhead. Your Spider Sense also helps out as well, as little markers appear when you need to dodge an attack (pressing the Y or triangle button) or step completely out of the picture to heal.
As for how Amazing Spider-Man looks, Beenox went all out with this engine. The New York environment is simply stunning, as you swing through city streets and even high into the air, possibly at the Xtreme Challenge blimp floating around the city. There are times screen tearing and lost details emerge, especially if you’re swinging high above everything, but overall, it’s a wondrous recreation of New York, right down to the Daily Bugle. The indoor stuff looks excellent too, though the close-up camera can pose a problem in certain combat situations. Don’t be afraid to back off and figure out your next move.
Activision also pulled a little surprise with the game’s voicework. Instead of going with the usual cast, it’s called upon newcomers to the Spidey franchise. Naruto’s San Riegel provides a superb take on Spidey, complete with his witty comebacks and believable tone of voice. You can just feel he really cares for Stacey. Backing him up is voice over veteran, Nolan North, who’s quite sinister as Smythe, especially later on. It’s great to hear Claudia Black as well, voicing nosy (but helpful) reporter Whitney Chang. And finally, Bruce Campbell returns as the know-it-all Xtreme Challenge reporter. He’s a blast, like always.
The Amazing Spider-Man gives you plenty to do, between free-roaming crime missions, photography tasks, side stories and helping citizens in peril. But it eventually comes to an end once you 100 percent everything…which, fortunately, will take a while. And once you collect comics, you can actually read them, a nice treat for die-hard fans.
To be honest, aside from some web-swinging physics, small camera issues and a lack of some familiar villains (really, was Venom too busy?!), The Amazing Spider-Man nails down the experience of being the web-slinger, with very few problems getting in the way. It’s a definitive movie-licensed experience, but doesn’t rely too much on the movie itself to fuel it. Beenox did it just the right way – their way – and have produced one of the better Spidey games as a result. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess…but a co-op adventure with Venom certainly wouldn’t be out of the question.
[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]