Weekend Flashback Review – The Amazing Spider-Man

Originally Posted October 3rd, 2012

With the release of Captain America: Civil War coming next week, a movie I’ve been waiting for ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was conceived, I decided that for this weeks flashback I’d have a look at one of the newcomers to the MCU, Spider-Man. Back in 2012 I played The Amazing Spider-Man’s movie tie-in game, and it wasn’t awful. It was a bit unforgettable, with some interesting ideas, but it relied on a combat system attempting to mimic the legendary system devised for the Batman: Arkham series. While no game seems to live up to Spider-Man 2 (The game, not the film) it was at least amusing for a time. It even decided the story should be a sequel, rather than a straight up adaptation. This didn’t really work, as it kind of spoiled some of the plot points of the movie if you picked up the game to get excited about seeing the movie.

The Amazing Spider-man gets one thing right from the word go. It avoids the mistakes most licensed games make, which are either following too closely the story of the movie they are based on, or differing too much.  The story of this Spider-man game begins soon after the movie, making the game a sequel of sorts. It’s an interesting turn, and makes it  immediately more interesting than the super hero games of the past year.

While this is a great way to set up the game in an open-world setting, it does feel a little shallow, as interesting as it might be. The voice acting, of course, doesn’t help. It’s definitely hit and misses, usually heading for the miss for all characters other than Dr. Connors and Spider-man himself. There are, however, subtle details that are extremely clever. During the loading screens, newspaper clippings can be seen and read through on one side of the screen, but on the other side is a fake Twitter-esque social network to read through. While most of these are sightings and discussions of Spider-man events, some are purely random in nature; including one saying “I’m a girl.” Someone definitely knows how the internet is these days.

Shortly into the game, Spider-man sets up some transmitters on Police Signal Towers, unlocking side-missions which are a kin to a system in L.A. Noire. Muggings and other activities are placed on the map for you to resolve, acting as side missions. While these are placed throughout the city, each actual story mission is set up in a much more linear fashion, acting as a classic level rather than the next part of the story.

At best, combat feels smooth, kinetic, acrobatic and fun. At its worst, it’s sluggish, sticky and feels like a bad imitation of a certain other popular super-hero title. The problem lies with the combat being more slowly paced and animation based, rather than having a fast and fluid feel. Though there is more moves to do to spice things up, such as retreating and striking with your web shooters (actually shooting them, like some movie scenes) it doesn’t spice the combat up quite enough to be as enjoyable as it could.

Though most of the enemies you fight are the generic grunts, security forces or police officers, there is a surprising amount of justification for the classic Spider-man villains, fitting in rather well with the world set up in the movie. The Rhino and Scorpion, for example, have been created by melding scorpion and rhino DNA with a human, much like the creation of the Lizard in the first movie. Though there are some slight differences for each character, it’s definitely a great way to shoehorn these characters in without making them seem slightly silly.

Spider-man seems to be trying to have lightning strike twice in the same place. Unfortunately, it does miss a lot because of this. They do things right, like the Web Swinging being extremely fun and useful. There’s even comic books to collect around Manhattan, which, aside from the graphics themselves, look gorgeous. You feel like Spider-man until you hit those slow combat moments or the fake Emma Stone. While it’s not perfect, it’s definitely fun and has it’s good moments. Fans would do well to look into it.

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