Spider-Man has always been one of my favourite comic book heroes with Peter Parker’s sarcastic humour and devotion to “with great power comes great responsibility” creed making his character stand out more than others in the MARVEL universe. Much like the big screen adventures of Spider-Man, video games based on this character fluctuate in quality over the years so any new game is taken with a pinch of salt. With the release of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ in the cinema, it is no surprise that a new Spidey game has been released. But will it be your ‘Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man’ title or will it fail to live up to its great Responsibility?
Published by Activision and developed by French developer Beenox, the first thing that needs to addressed is that whilst the game has the name ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2″, it is a video game adaptation of the film. Whilst it does take the likeness of certain characters used in the film, it is a blend of various characters in the Spider-Man universe with those shown in the film series and even then, scenarios taken from the films are changed for the game. The game opens with the now traditional finding the killer of Uncle Ben. Taken from the first Amazing Spider-Man film, it serves as a nice little tutorial into how the game works and sets the tone for the style of story telling.
Spider-Man is not Spider-Man without his web swinging and one of the very first things you learn in the game is how to get around the game world using this trusty ability. Controls are simple here, LT will shoot webbing from the left hand and RT for the right. Depending on which building is closer on to each side to you as you swing will keep your momentum going so a combination of LT and RT will get you through the streets of New York. Using the right bumper, RB, and you can use a Web Rush move which is a quick zipline that will shoot you towards a point on a building. The control system is responsive enough but if you get carried away using the zipline rush, the camera tends to get a bit confused and you can end up not knowing which way is up or where you bringing some clumsiness to the web swinging technique.
You can wall crawl as well, with a simple press of Y Spider will grip to the surface he is on allowing you to wall crawl. You can wall run using RT once in web crawl mode and you will fun vertically in any direction with a nice animation of Spidey shooting weblines to keep momentum going. Clicking in the left stick will perch you on that surface which will allow you to use your web shooters on a target, use the Camera to take photographs or to rappel down using a web line. This is a technique that will be required for most of the main story missions in the game. They work well, the game does make use of all of Spider-Man’s abilities but it does feel as though it has gone out of its way to include as many as they can but the control system is tailored to make access to each ability work smoothly but as above, the camera at times can get confused if you are to go from one ability to the other too quickly which is the only let down.
Combat has a very Arkham series feel to it. It is using a combination of counter, strike and web shooting to take on multiple opponents in very fast combat. Spider sense allows you to detect when you are about to be attacked and if countered correctly Spidey will switch focus to that attack immediately. Enemies will flash red before they attack giving you warning as to when you need to counter. When Spidey has a white flash warning above his head it means an armed enemy is about to take a shot at you and using the left stick and Y (check) will enable you do dodge that fire and keep the fight going. Web abilities can be used as well with B shooting web shots at an enemy that will stagger them or stick in place if used enough. Using the bumpers also uses web abilities with LB used to web pull a weapon away from an enemy or to pull an enemy towards you. RB will trigger a zipline attack on an enemy, speeding Spider-Man towards them in an attack. Do enough damage to an enemy and you will daze them allowing you to use a signature move to finish them off, normally a flurry of strikes before encasing them in webbing and taking them out of the fight.
Much like the Arkham series combat system, the control system here can lead to frantic button mashing as you are fighting multiple targets, but if you take it slow and make good use of the early warning and counter system you will find yourself handling multiple enemies fluidly. I did find that using the web pull to take away weapons from a target can leave you unable to counter quickly enough an attack from another enemy but with practice and good timing, you should not really encounter a combat situation that will be too troubling.
Of course, as famous as Spider-Man is as a superhero, the city he protects is as much a character as he is, New York. The game recreates all the best known locations in Spider-Man’s New York with Oscorp, The Daily Bugle and even Aunt May’s house all having their iconic places in the game world and is a very nice touch to see on the horizon whilst web slinging through the city’s buildings. These locations all provide extra elements for the game. Aunt May’s home for example will allow you to replay any missions you have completed and gives you a chance to change your Spider-Man costume from those unlocked in the game. Each suit will level up and upgrade as you progress in the game as long as you are wearing it. The more you use a suit, the more your own abilities are enhanced by the suit. Stan Lee also has a nice cameo role in the game as an early mission results in discovering his Comic book stand, a shop which is used to look at the collectibles you collect through out the game from posters to complete comic books after you have collected enough pages to unlock it. In Stan’s shop you will also find an Arcade machine which allows you to take on a series of combat challenges that increase in difficulty the more you complete.
The city is always in need of a hero and outside of the main story missions there are plenty of Petty Crimes for Spider-Man to prevent. Dotted around the city will be various side missions for you the player to complete. Doing so will earn XP which can be used to upgrade your abilities and enhance your powers. The petty crimes come in the forms of gang fights, gathering photographic evidence from the police or rescuing a hostage from a car chase. The gang fights is just that a fight, task is to take down the criminals. Photographic evidence requires you to take a photograph of a not so subtle placed laptop screen which will unlock an audio file giving some back story to the crime and the car chase is a mini game which will see you having to take out the enemies in the car before rescuing the hostage. There is a time limit before the car will escape so speed is of the essence as you move yourself around the car finding the right position to take out the bad guys before removing the back window and saving the hostage. Spider-Man will also get the chance to put his spider senses to the test to save people from fires that pop up through the city. You will need to enter a building that is on fire, use your spider sense to discover the location of those needing saving and carry them out to the waiting emergency services outside. All the people must be saved to complete the mission.
Whilst these offer plenty to do in the game outside of story missions, they are repetitive and quickly feel rather samey. Successfully completing a ‘petty crime’ or Fire rescue will lead to you increasing your Heroic level, earning XP and a positive news report from Whitney Chang. Fail to stop the crime or rescue the people and you will earn a Menace to the city level and a not so positive news story by J Jonah Jameson. Depending on which side you fall on, Hero or Menace will change the people’s view of you as you travel around the city. You will either hear the people cheer in support or throw abuse at you. The side missions are a good way to earn XP in order to enhance your abilities to use in the main story missions but they needed to be more than just the same generic set pieces in order to really make them interesting.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as a game is not one that will stand up against other more successful comic book hero video games. It borrows much from the film series that it takes its name from and the likenesses of the villains that appear in those films. Where the game falls flat on is the voice acting. Though it uses scenes and character likenesses from the films, the moment you hear the voice cast in the game it breaks the connection to the films. Andy Garfield is great as Peter Parker in the films, he has the right balance of humour and emotion that Spider-Man needs to have being adapted from the comic books. In the game however, the wooden voice acting for peter and the other characters just feel empty and fails to really bring the characters to life needed to make this game a good experience for Spider-Man fans.
The game also falls flat on the amount of loading screens it has. Unlike Arkham which enables you to travel the city and engage enemies straight away before continuing on your way or only having loading screens when entering a location, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 interrupts the flow of the game by having to load in every scenario. Web sling through the city and then try to begin a side mission and it will have to load in that side mission. Once you have completed the side mission it will then cut away to load to place you back in the world to continue web swinging. Entering a location will trigger a loading screen and it is just so annoying to have the game broken up as much as it is by them. It almost made me want to just stick to the main story missions in the end just to stop me having to sit through another loading screen session.
The main story works well, despite the poor voice acting and the changes to sequences taken from the films for the game. The updated take on characters like Shocker and Black Cat are well thought out for the game but by using so much influence from the films you do end up with the “hold on, that’s not how it happened’ sensation after they appear. The camera can be more of a hindrance at times then a help, especially with web swinging and in missions where stealth is required to complete the mission. The Combat needs refining to give you the real sense you are the super hero in the situation but can too easily become clumsy and lacking finesse. It feels like a game that could have done with a bit more time and polish rather than rushing out to release in time with the film of the same name’s cinema release. Overall this is a game that will not be heralded as one of the best comic book hero games available, it has promise but lazy execution. Fans of Spider-Man can enjoy the collectibles and level of detail in them but the game itself is a frustrating let down that will have Uncle Ben shaking his head in disappointment.
Thank you to Xbox UK for providing the copy of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ to ThisIsXbox.com
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