Did you know that in a time of turmoil for Marvel, The Amazing Spider-Man comic almost single handedly kept it afloat? It was a time where readership was dwindling, but Spider-Man saved the day. It resulted in the comic being hugely successful, a trend which has stood until today.
At the same time we have also had those original three movies, which apart from Spider-Man 3 and having to put up with Toby McGuire, were considered hits. Now we have the reboot movies which have been absolutely splendid. Of course, a slew of games have released over the years also, and while many have been great, some haven’t quite lived up to the description of Spidey himself, in other words, less than amazing.
Amazing Spider-Man 1 from Beenox brought a fresh approach. It returned Spider-Man to New York and gave him the freedom he deserved. It wasn’t without its faults, but it slotted in nicely as a follow on from the movie rather than a tie-in. It produced its own semi-decent, yet enjoyable story, and it also introduced some great mechanics. Things like the brilliant web slinging, combat modelled on the batman games, and of course the Web Rush ability. But at the same time it had some clumsy story moments, some very repetitive mission structures and all in all the combat was a tad too easy.
So it was with great excitement that I popped in Amazing Spider-Man 2 (I am a total fanboy you see) in the hope that Beenox had learned from their mistakes and finally delivered the ultimate Spider-Man game (ironically, Ultimate Spider-Man is the ultimate Spider-Man game, play it if you haven’t).
BUT… they haven’t. Not even Spider-Man’s cheeky repertoire of comments could save this game from being a ‘mediocre’ affair. Why you ask? Well true believers I will tell you just exactly why, excelsior, and all that. You see the story line doesn’t really have a place anywhere. While the first game followed on from the first movie, this game seems to mash up different story elements, all of which come together in a tornado, as in not really at all.
Actually, it starts off okay with Spider-Man swinging around New York, which is still fantastic fun, looking for some crimes to take care of, which introduces you to the side missions (more on those later). The story starts with Spidey saving Stan Lee from a building on fire, who he then returns to Stan’s comic store. Here there is probably the most awkward conversation as Stan Lee (killer of Uncle Ben, technically) explains to Peter why his uncle lost his life and what it means for him. In truth, it’s quite a nice touch to the game as Stan Lee ‘meets’ his most iconic character and has a heart to heart with him.
What follows in the story is one hell of a mess which includes villains popping out of nowhere for almost no reason to suddenly fight Spider-Man. There is almost zero story surrounding probably six of the boss fights. Characters just suddenly have their powers and want to fight you. No problem. It gets worse towards the end where you just fight boss after boss after boss for seemingly little to no reason. I told you it was a mess.
In fact, the story is so incoherent I can’t really explain to you what it is about, other than Spider-Man wants to save lives, villains want to cause havoc, Spidey wants to stop them and so on and so forth. There’s also something to do with the Kingpin in there trying to become the crime lord, Black Cat tries to do something with her boobs… I mean she tries to steal stuff and you stop her. This all seem very vague? Good because that’s what playing the game really feels like. Sadly.
And it’s a pity too, because the parts that are fleshed out a bit really work well. Such as the cat and mouse game between Spider-Man and Kraven, and the Carnage Killer sections which have you looking for a villain who is taking out criminals. Sure, it’s all part of the larger story, but it actually works better separated.
As for the side mission I mentioned earlier, these work okay to start off with, but soon become very repetitive and limited. They are split into various kinds whereby Spidey saves civilians, stops a petty crime, stops a car chase, takes photographs of crime scenes, breaks a deadlock between criminals and police, checks out hideouts, disposes of bombs and searches for voice clips. The thing is that every single side mission of its particular type is EXACTLY the same. You fight the same guys over and over, which is followed by the same wisecrack from Spider-Man which is funny the first time but not the ten times after. Then there is a cut scene to a news report detailing information around your side mission which is also generic and repeated ad nauseum.
You know, the side missions wouldn’t be so bad if they either had an actual purpose other than XP points, or if they weren’t ‘forced’ on you at times. Yes, forced. As part of the game Spidey has a ‘menace and hero’ bar. If you ignore crimes or fail at the side missions your menace bar goes up and the anti-spider-man unit will hunt you down. Completing side missions increases your hero status and prevents you from being hunted. It’s probably the shallowest system I have ever seen and should simply not exist.
Beenox don’t get it all wrong though. Spider-Man himself looks fantastic and there are a range of his suits which you can collect in the game. Each suit looks great. The combat is very easy and shallow also, but it is still fun to see Spidey pull off some signature moves while cracking one of his silly jokes. The stealth sections where you can attempt to take out the villains quietly work well, but again too simple.
The highlight is once again the actual swinging, it just feels so great moving around New York as Spider-Man as you go in search of comic pages (for actual books to read in the game) or just for the hell of it. Beenox have really got the camera work down to a tee for the swinging and zip-lining. The only real problem is that the controls are a bit clunky. You use R2 for your right hand and L2 for your left hand, but numerous times when you want to swing Spidey will tell you there is nothing to grab onto, which means that he is apparently oblivious to certain massive buildings to his side.
Boss battles are also pretty fun, if generic and repetitive. Story aside you do get to fight against some of the great Spider-Man villains and not all are contained to an indoor area. That’s not to say they couldn’t have been done better, but it is still fun. It’s also great to play as Peter Parker in some moments of the game, however brief. It tries to give you a bit more insight into his character, although these scenarios are incredibly limited also and mostly result in taking a couple of photos and having a conversation with someone.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels like a rushed game that falls victim once more to the movie tie-in trend. The voice acting doesn’t do it any favours and there isn’t even Bruce Campbell to help things along. It’s disappointing considering how good Amazing Spider-Man 1 was that the web has been dropped so much.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is still a fun game, it’s just not a very good game and even the power of the PS4 couldn’t help it from looking ordinary, or assist with the long and frequent loading times. Amazing Spider-Man once saved Marvel and has been the flagship title ever since. But when is someone going to come in and save the Spider-Man game? Hopefully not before too long.