I’m a huge Spider-Man fan. That means I can tolerate a bad Spider-Man game and still enjoy it. I love swinging around New York and beating up bad guys with my web shooters. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has below-average gameplay, with a good story, and awesome upgrades. Past Spidey games made by Beenox were not all open-world, like this game is. They were linear with excellent character art and good story telling. I expected The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be a blend of open-world web-swinging combined with a story-driven narrative for “main quests” that brought in everything I loved about Beenox’s past games. And oh was I wrong. Instead, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is frustrating to control and lacks any real purpose.
I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first. The game feels uncomfortable to control. I’m playing on PC using an XBOX 360 controller. The issues are with the game itself, not the input methods. Many vocal fans asked Beenox to ensure Spider-Man could not web-swing around the city unless his web actually stuck to something. Well, we got what we wanted and the results aren’t good. It takes some getting used to, but it’s not impossible to master. The problem is, it just isn’t fun unless you can move around quickly and effortlessly. Effectively, you have to swing lower than in past games, which is fun at first because you’re avoiding cars and people. But, over time, it becomes annoying to constantly swing around objects when you’re trying to quickly get to a mission. Once you finally get there, the combat isn’t too bad. It controls a lot like the Batman: Arkham series. The reason it’s in my “bad stuff” list is there is no concept of user-controlled targeting. You can swiftly beat down bad guys without ever needing to control the targeting, but there are times when you want to perform a particular action but you need to turn the camera around to put the reticle over your target before executing the action. I’ve never successfully done so without getting hit and breaking my combo chain. The fun of being Spidey is completely broken in this game: swinging around town effortlessly and quickly beating up bad guys while performing killer moves. The animations are great – and the city is pretty. But the gameplay fails miserably.
Oddly, starting out in the game is very confusing. some things make no sense until later on, such as heroic status, which doesn’t become relevant until you’ve defeated Shocker in Chapter 3. Yet, that Heroic vs. Menace meter is not only visible, but it changes after each side quest. Again, it doesn’t matter until you’re at least 2 hours into the game. At which point, you’re avoiding a special army that is on the street to take out any menaces. The inclusion of this function before it’s relevant indicates the game was either rushed or carelessly made. Sadly, both may be true.
Something Beenox did well are the upgrades. You can upgrade both your abilities and your suits. The latter were available as free DLC when pre-ordered from GameStop or Steam. The variety is outstanding, and I love how each suit offers different skills and bonuses, but I do take issue with Beenox’s attempt at the Symbiote suit. It looks really weird – not smooth and organic as it is intended to be. In general, the variety of suits is fun. But, why do I have to swing across town to the metro just to get to my house and change suits? That seems a little too intense. The suits upgrade over time to improve on specific attribute such as the range of your Spider-Sense and your resistance to fire. The combat and movement upgrades are cool. They include adding shock to your webbing, faster web-pulling, and slingshotting your way around town (no, it doesn’t make city-traversal any easier).
The story missions are actually pretty cool, but short. I would expect each to take the average player 10-15 minutes, and they’re similarly architected: you’re dropped into an instance, you fight dumb bad guys, and then you fight the boss. I was impressed with the Shocker boss battle – it had a Zelda-like feeling. Near the end of the battle, Shocker would jump onto 1 of 4 platforms. You had to web-shoot the platforms to drop them, and Shocker along with them. If you only knocked down the platform he was on, then he would quickly jump to another platform. But, if you don’t knock them all down quickly, he fires a powerful shockwave. This inspiration was missing from the other battles. I should point out the design of Ravenoffs’ house was very cool. It’s littered with his trophies and has cool Russian opera playing in the background.
Still, if you love all things Spider-Man, you’ll undoubtedly pick this up. Just don’t expect anything superior, amazing or sensational. Instead, you can expect a game that was designed strictly to cash-in on the movie hype. It’s fun to swing around town, once you get a handle on it. The costumes are mostly very well designed, but getting to your house so you can put on a new one is too time consuming. Combat works but it’s redundant and difficult to execute the best moves without auto-targeting. Get the pattern? It goes like this: “X is good, but Y makes X suck.” Nothing about the gameplay really stands out as wholly positive. This is sad for me to say. I’m a huge fan of Spider-Man and I’ll advise other fans of the following: if you want a truly amazing Spidey experience, go play Marvel Heroes. David Brevik and the team at Gazillion Games nailed it. Spidey is funny, fast, and his powers are the best in any game you’ll play.