Rocksteady changed things with 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. As a brand new IP, it’s starting to become the template for a few popular games. Beenox has noted that the game was an influence on their “The Amazing Spider Man” game, and it really shows. Eidos’ Hitman:Absolution will also be working off the same engine (if not a similar one).
Before playing Activision and Beenox’s “The Amazing Spider-Man”, you should first know that it takes place after the events of the Marc Webb’s film that opened recently. Playing the game will give away major plot points from the film, but visually, it’s quite a treat. Unlike the other Spider-Man related tie in’s, this game doesn’t feature the voices of the movie cast. I was kind of hoping that it would, really.
Activision, along with Treyarch, created all of the movie related Spider-Man games (which I’ve owned), and by far, I’ve always thought of Spider-Man 2 as the best game in the franchise. The control in that game, which allowed you to shoot separate weblines from each hand, was amazing. It allowed you to pull off some incredible turns mid-swing and if timed just right, you could pull off sideways swinging. Beenox decided to change the style of the game, focusing on more of a Parkour-style swinging dynamic. This adds two great touches:
The “Web-Rush” system allows you to pick predesignated places for Spider-Man to go at any time. Once chosen, the game will take the quickest route to that target, even if it means Spider-Man has to bounce from Building A, hop off the fire escape of Building B and flip over some cars to get there. The Web Rush system also works similar to Batman’s Detective Mode in the Arkham games, allowing you to lock onto targets of attack, object to grab and use against your enemies. In flight (or fall, however you choose to look at it), it slows down time to allow you to select your destination. It makes it all look very beautiful and stylish, but also manages to take away the effort required to make it happen. It’s not a terrible thing at all, but I suppose it could be compared to Assassin’s Creed vs. Mirror’s Edge. Both games have you climb a building. Assassin’s Creed uses one button to get you to the top. Mirror’s Edge requires a number of calculated button presses to do the same thing. The reward is different, and I tend to prefer the latter. Still, it’s very fun to use, especially in close quarter interior battles. You can leap backwards to the ceiling and then advance right back to the enemy with a button press.
The controls are incredibly easy to access. Climbing a wall is as simple as pushing against it, and you can alternate between climbing and “perching” against any sideways wall. This turns the camera back to it’s original state to give you an idea of where you are as you move.
The camera is closer to Spider-Man overall, so you get a better sense of vertigo during swinging. You aren’t able to do any acrobatics while swinging, but that free fall experience is still there. It’s definitely beautiful. You can literally spend your time swinging all across the city all day. Note that the map is condensed, compared to Spider Man 2, which also contained part of Queens. Considering all of the graphical data that had to be generated, I can understand shrinking the map.
Collector Fiends will love that there are almost 700 comic book pages floating around the city, similar to the feathers in the Assassin’s Creed games. Collecting enough of these will unlock actual viewable versions of classic Spider-Man comics. XP gained from collecting these, along with taking out bad guys via the main storyline or the random crimes that occur in Manhattan will allow to unlock new moves and stealth actions for the old webhead. At one point, you’ll also obtain a camera that will allow you to take pictures around the city. It would have been nice if there was a way to capture screenshots of yourself swinging, but I’ll take it.
Stealth is a new factor in this game, a carryover from the Batman games. Spider-Man has the ability to now climb above and behind bad guys to web them up and get them out-of-the-way. It works to some degree, though some bad guys move in such tight nit groups that it’s hard to get them away from each other to take them out. You’ll be able to stealth eliminate two at a time (with an upgrade), but the rest of the group sees this, you’ll be under attack. Bad guys range from normal thugs to some monsters to even giant robots, which are pretty fun.
The problem with The Amazing Spider-Man is the same problem that plagued all of the other free roaming versions of the game. The mini crimes are so predictable and monotonous that you’ll probably end up getting bored doing them. They literally are all the same ones from the original Spider-Man game, though cleaned up a bit.The web swinging and comic page collecting will make up for it, but I’m not sure if any game developer can find a better way to make the city defending elements better than what they are.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun game to try out, and the reply value is okay in the sense that you can just pick it up and go, but like every other game in the series, it still requires a few tweaks. The game is available for all the console systems.