The lights are on
With another year and yet another round of Marvel movies to accompany it, the reboot of the Amazing Spider-man has fulfilled the tradition of obligatory movie games with its entry of the same name. Is it worth more than the price of your theater tickets? Although it received a mediocre rap from editor Ben Reeves on this same site, I offer my own counter opinion in my review. Despite a few shortcomings, I was positive that after my playthrough, the Amazing Spider-man was one of the most surprising under-the-radar hits of the movie game genre and arguably stacks up against even the best Spider-man games of recent memory.
Set right after the story of its film, the Amazing Spider-man game puts you in the shoes of Mark Webb’s Spider-man in an epilogue of events expanding upon a few plot points to the movie. [Spoilers!!!] Following the deaths of Uncle Ben and Captain George Stacy, Peter Parker (not Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (not Emma Stone) continue to be at a fork-in-the-road in their relationship and Peter is still at work as Spider-man only to face the new threat of Oscorp’s new CEO, Alistair Smyth (Nolan North). Following Smythe's release of Oscorp’s batch of genetically enhanced human/animal hybrids onto Manhattan to kill them with Michael Bay style killer robots, Peter enlists the aid of the only man who can help him cure the infected hybrids and vaccinate the public: Dr. Curt Connors (a.k.a the Lizard).
Immediately upon stepping into the new Spider-man’s shoes, the game certainly shows a heavy amount of elements borrowed from both the recent Arkham Batman games and 2004’s Spider-man 2. With the gameplay of Batman, much of Spider-man’s story missions are devoted to stalking the dark corridors of Oscorp and its warehouses across the city. With his “spider-sense” Spidey may jump, swing, and twirl his way silently onto the high-lighted enemies below one by one Dark Knight style. It feels satisfying and provides the amusing visual of murmuring guards stuck in web cocoons. The rest of his indoor gameplay includes Batman’s chain-countering-like fighting, wiping the floor with hordes of enemies, clearing out the final one with crushing and flashy finishing moves of webbing and fisticuffs. Both these fighting styles look brilliant in the games’s very HD graphics with Spider-man’s more graceful and faster fighting and never seemed to get old for me.
Not to be limited to just Arkham’s size of exploration, the Amazing Spider-man comes with a full New York to explore in the manner of Spider-man 2’s movie game. While many of the main plot’s missions take you out here to fight and travel on occasion, the majority of missions in the city are optional side-quests as a detour from the ho-hum tone of the main story. They involve everything from halting police chases and random fights with muggers to wrecking Smythe’s mech soldiers and delivering mental patients back to the police. Some of these quite fun and others are lack-luster, but I never felt that there enough of them to make you groan too much. Many of them also include the entertaining appearances of slightly retooled versions of other comic book villains like Rhino and Black Cat and are enjoyable in their own right while disappointingly short and hardly develop the story. There are collectibles available in the form of comic books to chase down that never feel quite as fun but make you feel enough of an OCD trip to collect them all for the sake of new costumes.
Only adding to the feel of Spider-man 2 is the guest appearance of funny-man and Sam Raimi pal Bruce Campbell yacking at the player as a blimp MC that’ll challenge to acrobatic missions. Small touches like these add to the subtle humor of the game and make you feel like a part of the Spider-man franchise history.
Above all, though, the New York never looked more gorgeous in some impressively updated visuals for Manhattan. The buildings and cars are breath-takingly realistic on the horizon and The web-swinging’s close camera shots further pull off the sense of motion and exhilaration of Spider-man’s speed and acrobatics.
The plot itself, although a follow-up to the Amazing Spider-man film, never lends itself a meaningful entry into the new trilogy. Aside from being released days before the film and spoiling the character deaths for any movie fan (I thankfully was not one of them), its lazy story-telling fails to add anything significant to the Amazing Spider-man’s plot development. His and Gwen’s relationship is never rewarded with much screen time or even a true resolution and attempts at developing Dr. Connors are met with pointless banter. Players shouldn’t expect anything from Dr. Conors’s part except for a simplistic boss encounter with his Lizard persona as well as for any of his other comic book peers. Alistair Smyth does’t add much either, being nothing more than a maniacal Nathan Drake in a cheaper suit appearing on-and-off with the occasional robot escort. The finale of the game only felt like a fragmented sentence, then, with no apparent conclusion for Dr. Connors’ fate or for New York’s monster population. Spot-on voice-work from Sam Riegel in particular thankfully carries the game’s little story details and accomplishes Spider-man’s smart-guy personality and wit with seemingly little effort.
A final note worth mentioning is the game’s line-up of DLC. The entirely revolve around playing the non-Spider-man characters such as the Lizard and Rhino and even Spider-man godfather Stan Lee himself. While the Lizard’s and Rhino’s playability is limited only to short smash-’em up style arena battle mini-games, Stan Lee’s DLC is pure fun. Getting to swing around the Big Apple (with webs, no less!) as the geriatric and beloved Spider-man co-creator is hilariously fun and is made even better with the touches of his chipper quips of “Nuff said,” and “Excelsior!”
In short, the Amazing Spider-man may have little at all to no meaning to enhancing any of your movie experience, but is a terrific Spider-man experience. Despite the shallow story and meaningless boss encounters will seem underwhelming but hardly take away from the joy of merely great gameplay mechanics and an engaging city to explore. In the least, it’s a partial redemption on Beenox’s part from its awful “Spider-man: Edge of Time” game and a positive step in the right direction for future Spider-man games. I believe that there’s been “Nuff said,” about this one.
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