Sunday, 1 July 2012

Game Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider Man Review

Developer: Beenox
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Wii, 3DS, DS, Android & iOS
Genre: Action/Adventure
Release Date: 29/06/2012
RRP: £39.99/$59.99

I’m going to get this out of the way straight away. I am a massive Spidey fan. This undoubtedly makes me biased in this review but, let’s be honest, if you aren’t a fan of the character then you are not likely to give this game even a second glance.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a movie tie-in game, but it has its own original story. Set only a short time after the events of the film, the plot sees Spidey accidentally become the cause of the release of a virus that threatens to turn all of Manhattan into human/animal hybrids, like the Lizard. Let’s be clear, the first hour gives away the majority of what happens in the film. This isn’t a big deal if you know the comics fairly well, but if The Amazing Spider-Man is your introduction to the Webhead, prepare to be spoilt on the fates of a number of characters. The plot is decent enough, it’s nothing special, but gets the job done (some “twists” are extremely easy to see coming) and provides you with plenty of situations to kick some ass. The game is an excellent length. Completing everything except the collectibles gave me a total game time of around 11 hours, which is surprisingly long for a movie tie-in.

The film’s cast did not lend their voices to their respective roles, but their stand-ins do an excellent job. Each actor is solid, and the writing does each character justice, with Spidey happily getting some excellent one liners.

The developer, Beenox, knows him. This is their third title with the character and they have him down to pat. Movement through the open world of New York looks incredible. Spidey does flips, spins and performs suitably acrobatic dives while web swinging through the city. But it’s the addition of Web Rush that makes you truly Spider-Man. By pressing RB, the player can select a point and Spidey will automatically move to it. He will run along edges, catapult himself off flagpoles and bounce of the side of buildings to reach the point, all of which looks amazing. Each animation is smooth and elegant and the transitions between them are unnoticeable. This should be the defining mechanic for a Spider-Man game, and I for one will be extremely unhappy if it is removed in future titles.

Combat is almost as smooth as travel. The game borrows its combat system from the Arkham series of Batman games, with players having access to the X button for attacking, the Y button for a reversal when Spidey-Sense goes off, and the B button doubling as a Web Shot, and allowing you to perform a Signature Move when an enemy is stunned (which is essentially a finisher). It works well enough, with Spider-Man moving fairly fluidly between enemies, but sometimes suffers from its simplicity.

You can also choose to take out enemies from the shadows, with Stealth Takedowns from the roof. These can get a little tricky when the camera decides not to play ball with you however, and caused me to reveal myself to enemies multiple times. This problem is especially prevalent in the indoor sections of the game.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of indoor missions, with each main story mission taking place inside. Most of Shattered Dimensions, and all of Edge of Time (Beenox’s previous two Spider-Man titles), were set inside, so it’s clear that Beenox knows how to deal with a confined Spider-Man. It would just help if the camera worked a little better when you are on a roof.

When back outside in the city however, the camera works perfectly. It sticks closely to Spidey, the screen blurs as you fly past buildings, giving you a suitable sense of speed, and it is accurate enough to allow you to leap from point to point without worrying about where you are going to end up. This definitely helps for the collectibles, of which there are a lot of. This will be a tough game for completionists as there are 700 comic book pages scattered throughout the city. These pages become actual comic books that you can read in the menu, which is an excellent addition, giving you the first appearances of the game’s villains, as well as one more modern Lizard story. Besides these pages however, are a number of other collectibles to be found in each of the main missions (all of which are replayable). All in all, there are around 900 collectibles to be found, so if you’re an OCD collectathon gamer, you have a lot of work on your hands. By the end of my playthrough, I only had around half of the collectibles, and I was actually looking for them.

There are also a number of alternate costumes to be unlocked for fans of the character. Unfortunately, these are neither as numerous or as interesting as in Shattered Dimensions or Edge of Time, but it is still a nice touch. Each costume looks incredible however, and a huge amount of detail has been put in each one, as they get more and more tattered as you take damage. Coming out of a mission you found challenging looking like hell is an excellent touch.

The game can get a little repetitive. Side missions like transporting infected civilians to quarantine are filled with repeated dialogue and can get a little tedious. Car chases always end in an awesome way, but it’s still the same way. It’s repetitive, but still manages to end up being damn fun.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a game for Spider-Man fans. It’s filled with memorable moments (battles with Hunters can literally span the entire city) and subtle nods to potential future villains, and while there are a few flaws, screw ‘em, I’m Spider-Man.

- Paul Brown


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