The web-slinger returns in his latest outing, and Adam has been seeing what Spidey has been up to in Beenox and Activision’s new movie tie-in on Xbox 360.
If you’ve ever wanted to be the web-slinger himself, gracefully swinging between the high-rises of New York City, dexterously manoeuvring, whilst aiding the city’s citizens, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will try to get you there, but just not quite. Developed by French studio Beenox (creators of the last few Spider-Man games) and published by Activision, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the tie-in to the movie of the same name.
The main story loosely connects with the movie – the main villains are there; Electro and Green Goblin, but they feel like a side-thought compared to the more captivating moments you engage in with Kraven the Hunter. The story itself is standard-fare, New York is under threat, and you have to save it.Tensions are high between New York’s street gangs and the Russians, and as the threat posed by the gang war rises, Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) and Harry Osborn fund an Enhanced Crime Task Force; a private security group which is there to combat the threat posed by the increased criminal activity, and also to stop Spider-Man.
There are some characters in the game which Spider-Man fans will recognise, but I feel they were put there purely for fan-service, and have no real impact on the story as a whole.
The Hero/Menace system, whilst seemingly an interesting and good idea, turns into your worst nightmare later on in the game. If you tend to crimes and save citizens your Hero meter will increase, however if you ignore or fail to combat those crimes your Menace meter will increase. Seeing to the random crimes and bomb scares is fun at first, but after a while I tired of the repetition. This in turn led to me ignoring those crimes, which gradually built up my menace meter, meaning I was increasingly hounded by the Task Force. Being known as a menace will decrease the stats of your currently worn Spider-Man suit too, but I didn’t really notice any difference.
One of the ways in which the Task Force will attempt to catch you is with giant electrical nets pulled across the gaps between buildings, meaning if you’re still struggling with the finicky web swinging, you’re likely to hit them. They then disable your web shooters for a few seconds, long enough for a task force to drop in to deliver a beat down. The first few times this happened to me I didn’t think too much of it, it was a nice little change to everything else happening. But I hit those nets another ten times and the novelty soon wore off.
The Hero/Menace system seemed forced, and didn’t really need to be there. The only real penalty you face is the increased Task Force activity, and if you can put up with that then you’re alright.
Between the story missions you’re free to roam about the city, fighting the random crimes that pop up on your map or trying to complete the races strewn about the concrete jungle. There are also entrances to secret Russian gang hideouts, where they’re harbouring high-tech combat suits. If you enter these areas and do away with all the guards, without alerting their suspicion too much, you can claim the suits as your own. These were fun and welcome side-missions, which rewarded you with some iconic Spider-suits from previous movies and comics. Each suit has its own stats, but to be quite honest I don’t think they really affected the gameplay much, if at all. I comfortably completed the game without paying any attention to which suit had which stats, I simply wore the suits I liked to look of – and there are some awesome-looking ones.
The game’s combat is a bit of a sore point; they’ve attempted to clone a Batman Arkham-style combat system, where your movement and combos flow almost fluidly between enemies, and where you tap the evade button whenever your spider-sense flashes red above your head, allowing you to gracefully dodge incoming attacks. Unfortunately the combat doesn’t live up to the aforementioned Batman game; sure, it’s simple and when you pull-off a takedown on an enemy it looks pretty cool, but I felt like the fluidity and choice of attacks were lacking. Your main attack button executes the bulk of your moves – you simply bash this button until your enemy is laying flat on his or her face, all the while tapping dodge when your Spider-sense flashes. But it feels less than solid, and I would have liked to have seen a bit more rhythm to the combat.
The graphics are sub-par, especially for a console that’s been out for over eight years, and some of its later releases look like GTA V or The Witcher 2. The most polished aspect is Spider-Man himself, which makes sense as he’s the star, but it’s a shame that he seems to be where the eye-candy stops. The city itself doesn’t look too bad when you’re swinging at full speed, if you can get enough momentum going without hitting a building or have the camera botch your efforts. But stop and look around for a while and you’ll notice some poor textures along with plasticine-faced citizens.
The voice acting is OK, and the ‘interactive conversations’, where you press a button to pick which question to ask next, seem to have been put in there to give an illusion of choice. If this were a truly open-world game with a dynamic story, then this feature would have been at home, but because this is a linear story-driven game it seems a little contrived. Honestly, these parts of the game could have been left as standard cut-scenes, with better effect.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does have good points, it’s not all doom, gloom, and splatting against buildings. There are, of course, collectibles in the form of comic book pages scattered all over New York. Collecting certain numbers of them will unlock full comic books for you to read over at Stan Lee’s comic book store. This element of the game I really enjoyed, as it allowed you some time out from the constant barrage of Task Force operatives and heroic duties to perform. The comics are great, in full HD, range from earlier to later issues, and they’re a joy to read on your TV screen. They delve into different aspects of the wall-crawler and allow you to learn more about him.
Sneaking about the Russian hideouts on the walls and ceilings felt satisfying, and getting the jump on your foes by stealthily webbing them to a ceiling, or hanging them from an overhead pipe felt great. It’s not a dedicated stealth system, as it doesn’t change the way you play from the outside open areas, but this was a cool idea. Plus the reward of an awesome looking suit means these areas well worth taking the time out to complete.
Kraven speaks of training Spider-Man to become a better hunter – I feel they missed an opportunity for some interesting features revolving around hunting. Spider-Man could have created giant webs between buildings to catch flying pursuers, or set other traps to catch targets and foes.
The ‘quick-web’ ability is good if you want to keep up momentum in your city traversal, but it can be tough at times to target exactly where you want to go when you’re moving at speed. If you hold the right-bumper down it slows down time to almost a stop, and you can look around to specifically target where you want to fire your web and head to next. This was really handy a lot of the time, but it took away to feeling of speed and continuity to your movement when you had to stop, move the camera, then release.
The game falls short of what I feel fellow Spider-Man fans want; a game which gives you fun and fluid web-slinging, an engrossing story that isn’t tied-in to the next movie coming out, and robust combat with combo moves and spectacular-looking web abilities. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fairly solid game, and it will give you some enjoyment once you get to grips with the web-swinging and camera, but it’s not setting any new standards. If you’re a fan of Spidey then you may want to pick this up, or at least give it a try purely for the fact that you’re a fan. If not, then I’d give it a miss and just see the movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Wii U, 3DS, iOS, and Android.