Beenox returns with its third Spiderman game, after Shattered Dimension and Edge of Time, and provides a hugely enjoyable experience as the webslinger that has to be one of the best movie related videogames to come out in a very long time, though it never reaches the heights that it could.
The Amazing Spiderman, rather than mimicking the movie plot, instead serves as an epilogue to his run in with the Lizard. A virus that Dr Kurt Connors was creating within his lab that creates cross breeds runs amok on Spider-mans watch, causing Gwen Stacy, his love, to become infected and havoc to ensue in the city of Manhattan. The story itself is adequate enough but I couldn’t help but feel someone was playing the Prototype series of games during Spiderman’s development and thought the plot was a perfect shoe in; evil corporations, free roaming in New York, side quests and infections are all in there. Thankfully Peter Parker is actually a joy to be around and Beenox have really nailed the character on the head with his sense of humour; simply the fact that he cheers when swinging through one of the most iconic cities in the world shows that there has actually been thought put into who and what Spiderman is.
Combat is heavily borrowed from Rocksteady’s Arkham City, with the same combo, dodge and counter system used in Spiderman. This is by no means a bad thing, as it feels satisfying and Spiderman’s agility and fragilities are realised perfectly; Spiderman isn’t bullet proof and thus must use his webs to provide a situation that he can benefit from. Though saying that the option is there doesn’t mean you often need to use it as the game is rather on the easy side, with the few deaths i experienced coming from attempting to utilise some of the heroes more explosive combos rather than difficulty. Battles whilst swinging in the streets are intense and arguably the most fun in the entire game though they tend to boil down to Quick Time Events .Following the Batman route does highlight the limitations of the combat system as the former had gadgets galore to shake up fights; I found myself continually hammering the same button until direction was given that the enemy was weak , rather than trying other things ,which can make large slogs of the game very repetitive.
This also follows suit when you are allowed to free roam the city. By far the best part of the game is Spider Mans swinging abilities, and rightly so. It’s incredibly natural and energetic and, with the inclusion of a Web Rush ability that slows down time to allow you to plan your next move, is the closest any of us are going to get to be able to do the same thing without playing with infected animals and nuclear waste (that is not to say that that is a good idea in anyway!)
The various side missions you get broadly fall into crimes, photography and races. The only crime Manhattan has is car chases, bank robberies and muggings .which is great for the citizens of New York but hugely repetitive after the second time of asking for us. Photography seems like a weak addition to try and make a link with the Peter Parker persona and races boil down to hitting the same button and/or following your Xbox pull off a lot of cool acrobatics that you ideally want to be doing yourself. Further down the line you need to take people from A to B, break into identical looking laboratories and work your way around identical looking sewers. New York itself seems pretty bland at times as well, with it never feeling alive thanks to the lack of any action or noise, as well as the occasional heavy pop up that appears mid swing.
There is an RPG element thrown in as well with two different strands, one directly linked to the XP you earn fighting and meeting certain conditions whilst the other is based on Tech that you pick up along the way. It’s a very neat system but ultimately very underutilised, with most of the upgrades becoming rather meaningless after the first eight levels. Collectibles are also littered around New York in the form of comic book pages that glitter bright gold and reminders pop up for you to collect them as you swing or walk past. Collecting them can be hugely addictive but the sheer amount, there are 700 in total with no proper indications as were they can all be found until you hit the 500 mark, means that it becomes a distraction for completionists rather than adding to the game play. There is also ability to change the suits Spiderman wears, with many of them being taken from the various comic intereations, but only on certain dates, most of them after December 31st 2012. Although its perfectly easy to change the Xbox in game clock, it is a bit presumptuous that this will still be in peoples disc drives that far down the line.
Voice acting is rather strong, despite the fact that none of the stars of the film lent their voices to any of the characters. Dialogue between the characters and enemies Spider Man meets are generally well laid out, though character models do suffer from being out of synch with their dialogue. The amount of recorded dialogue, however, seems to be on the rather low side with Spidey spitting out the same one liner when he is off to stop a crime or save someone, which can get incredibly tiresome if you do decide to do everything the game has to offer.
The fact that Rocksteady did help with the combat in this game makes comparisons between this and the Arkham series inevitable if a little unfair. Arkham City was a master class in how to create a superhero game that had great story, combat and fully utilised the powers and gadgets Batman had to offer. Spider Man aims for that but doesn’t quite reach it. If Beenox were able to bottle the sheer joy of swinging around the city and applied that same type of fun to all elements of the game than Arkham City would lose it crown without a doubt. However , as it stands, Spiderman’s latest outing is a good game that could have been so much more with a bit more finesse and avoiding the cash in factor of being released alongside the movie. Spider Man 2 on the PS2 is still by far the best SpiderMan game we have had; Beenox aren’t there yet but have the perfect groundings for something that could easily surpass it.