Despite the fact that he’s the ideal focus for a video game, Spider-Man has yet to receive a title to genuinely catapult him into the gaming stratosphere. Shattered Dimensions (2010) and Edge of Time (2011) were most definitely steps in the right direction, but they were based on the comic book universe created around the character, as opposed to Mark Webb’s brand new big-screen universe, created for stars Andrew Garfield, Rhys Ifans and Emma Stone. Unfortunately, the big-name character likenesses don’t make an appearance here for some reason (most likely a licensing issue), but Activision has been able to call upon many of the plot elements of the movie.
Those of you worried that the game will spoil the movie may be interested to know that it’s not actually a direct adaptation; instead it takes place after the film’s events. However that in itself brings with it some potential spoilers, so if you’re determined not to have your viewing pleasure tainted, we would suggest you hold off on getting your digital web-slinging kicks until The Amazing Spider-Man hits cinemas. If you don’t think you can wait that long, then you won’t have too much spoiled, just a few things here and there given the game’s timeline. But before you run out and give Activision your hard earned money, perhaps you might want to hear what we thought of the game first?
With Batman’s Arkham series proving to be a smash hit, it was always going to be likely that another developer would try its hand at the third person semi-sandbox style arrangement for a character like Spider-Man, and given Spidey’s considerable talents, it’s definitely a fine fit on paper. With players able to swing their way through the city with the touch of a button, you’d have thought that things would work quite well here, unfortunately that’s not quite the case. Before we look at the areas in which The Amazing Spider-Man falls down, we would like to point out that it’s not a bad game, and we’ll take a look at why shortly, it’s just that there are some pretty serious issues here that need to be addressed off the bat.
The biggest issue, and potentially the most unforgivable for some people, is the incredibly inconsistent camera work. While we certainly appreciate that it’s got to be tough nailing down a solid camera angle for a game where the protagonist can swing through the cityscape, walk on walls and dash to far corners at the touch of a button, when things get up front and personal with your enemies it really proves to be a pain in the backside. Even aiming your attacks can be a real chore should you decide to attack from above, so be warned; it’s going to take a very forgiving soul to look past this!
Other problems include the lack of focus when it comes to the game’s open world structure. This certainly isn’t anything new with the genre, as ably demonstrated by the ADD afflicted GTA series, but here it’s as bad as we’ve ever seen it. Some may enjoy the ability to completely forget what they were doing many times over in order to chase side missions or search for comic book pages, but we found the way these missions are implemented a little unimpressive. After attaching devices to police radio towers, Spidey can tune in to all the latest news from the boys in blue, opening up a number of additional quests, but none of them really fit with the action, and they feel exceptionally tagged on, adding little to progress the story.
It’s a real shame, because the main narrative here is quite engaging. Spider-Man fans will love the way the story snakes around the character’s universe, featuring both old and new characters into the bargain, and the missions are enjoyable when they don’t fall into the “go here, do this, go back” trap that seems endemic in sandbox titles. The combat is solid although far from spectacular thanks to occasionally unresponsive controls and that damn camera angle, even if racking up huge combos can feel mightily satisfying if executed with style.
At its core, The Amazing Spider-Man is a decent game. The web-slinging mechanics work as well as we’ve ever seen in a Spider-Man title, and there’s enough variety to the enemies to keep things feeling fresh, however the storyline does flag somewhat in places and the game’s technical issues are often too big to look past. If you’ve been crying out for an above-average Spidey title than this is certainly going to interest you, but if you’re hoping for something that can go toe to toe with Arkham City then you’re going to be sorely disappointed.