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The Amazing Spider-Man Review

by Diogo Miguel July 10, 2012

The video-game adaptation of a film often strikes fear in the heart of many. Countless adaptations have been released, and yet only a handful are worth playing. The Amazing Spider-Man is another film getting a video-game adaptation. But will this turn into another dreadful release, or can Spidey save the day?

It’s not a true Spider-Man experience without the iconic web swinging. Fortunately this is one of the highlights in Amazing Spider-Man. Swinging around merely requires pressing one trigger. Press both triggers and Spider-Man will start to swing upwards. This is potentially the most fun that players will get out of this adventure is swinging around the large metropolis that is New York city.

Spider-Man has plenty of his trademark abilities at his disposal. Perhaps the one that comes in handy most often is ‘Web Rush’. Spider-Man’s ability to focus makes it possible to enhance his senses, so that everything around him seems to have slowed down. He can then find weak spots in enemies and easily escape, when badly hurt. Other abilities become available with story progression.

The familiar experience system is used to unlock character/tech upgrades. More experience is given to those that defeat enemies using special attacks, such as Spidey’s signature move. There’s a fair amount of upgrades, but the problem is that it never really feels like Spider-Man is truly benefiting from them. It’s possible that he does get more powerful with each new upgrade, but it’s not exactly visible to the player.

Combat is where it all starts to fall apart. It basically comes down to repeatedly pressing a few buttons. A typical fight will consist of attacking, dodging a few times and then perhaps doing a signature finishing move. There’s even various objects scattered around the levels, which will instantly make enemies dizzy, so Spider-Man can perform his signature move. This does mean that it becomes accessible to a wider audience, since the simple controls are easy to learn.

It certainly doesn’t help that the level design is lacking imagination. The story is split up into various chapters. Most of these chapters take place in the same location. It all starts to look the same after a couple of hours. There’s a few interesting ideas found in later stages though. The challenging puzzle sections where Spidey needs to make the most of his acrobatic abilities are outstanding. It’s just a shame that so much time is spent mindlessly defeating groups of enemies, or crawl in air ducts.

Most of the excitement in Amazing Spider-Man comes from the boss battles. Fighting the giant robots is satisfying since it requires making use of Spidey’s abilities. The boss battles could have done with more than one attack pattern though. Sadly fighting common enemies is not as enjoyable, and it gets to a point where players might prefer to avoid these fights, whenever it’s possible to do so. Enemy design is lacklustre, making encounters with the likes of Scorpion forgettable at best. Perhaps it’s down to personal taste, but making the cast realistic is a step too far from the comic books.

Ironically, it’s the side missions that will make it worth playing through Amazing Spider-man. These range from rescuing citizens from muggers to stopping robberies. New side missions are constantly appearing after finishing each chapter. The helpful on screen map ensures that everything is easy to spot, thanks to the way point system.

Characters that Spider-Man meets along the way also give him requests. Reporter Whitney Change pesters Spidey to take incriminating photos for her. This is but one of the many unique ideas that the team at Beenox has come up with. Sadly, i’s not without flaws since some of her photo instructions are incredibly vague. This isn’t much of a problem inside a chapter level, but it’s frustrating to scout the entire city to find the specified locations, since these don’t tend to have way-points.

Progressing through the various story chapters is fairly long, but Beenox still saw fit to introduce a few obstacles. There’s a couple of times where the story flow is interrupted. These consist of either planting tracking bugs in antennas, destroying signal jammers or waiting for further instructions. It’s not exactly the best way to stall player progress, since it’s clear that it’s just used to make the story last longer.

Which doesn’t even make sense considering the amount of collectibles to find. There’s plenty of side-missions to keep players busy. It’s possible to continue collecting everything once the story is completed. The rewards for spending hours finding everything and being a good superhero are worth the hassle. These range from full digital comics to concept artwork.

Collecting items like the comic pages is made simple thanks to the ‘Web Rush’ ability. All it takes is pressing a button when prompted, while swinging around New York. Spider-Man will automatically home in on the comic page.

One of the best ideas in this Spider-Man video-game adventure is the quirky ‘NY City Thought’ section in the loading screen. It’s rather ironic to see some of the bizarre user comments that pop up. This is but one of the many popular culture references that players will find. It’s certainly amusing to hear Spidey make a joke about the guy that got tasered.

Visually, Amazing Spider-Man is going through the motions. Some of the chapter levels are too similar to ever feel unique. But the city itself is a fantastic recreation of the Spider-Man world. There’s so much to see that players will surely find themselves spending a fair amount of time exploring it. The Spider-Man design isn’t too bad either, and it’s fascinating to literally see his costume get damaged, while playing each chapter.

The story isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but it should provide fans with a nice intro to the main events of the film. It’s not unusual for a film video-game adaptation to get a prologue story. One of the best aspects of the story is the often sarcastic Spider-Man comments that fans are used to. There aren’t a lot of music tracks, but they help to make it an authentic superhero experience.

This isn’t up there with worst film adaptation of all time. The problem though is that the few good ideas are often tarnished by boring sections. Those couple of times where it works, such as the fun puzzle sections that make use of Spidey’s abilities, are most enjoyable. However, it says it all when one of the best parts consists of a platform section, where players must guide a powerless Peter to safety. The Amazing Spider-Man has potential, but it rarely manages to tap into it. So it’s only recommended for fans, or those who don’t mind playing through a slightly average Spidey adventure.

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