Another Summer, another Superhero game!
Or rather has been going off the scale since The Amazing Spiderman 2 game was announced by Activision and Beenox. Not only is it a follow-up to a fairly good movie tie-in, but appeared to provide a huge throwback to the one title that made Spidey games huge: Spiderman 2 which was launched wayyy back in yesteryear for the O.G. XBOX, PS2, and other consoles of that time. For a movie tie-in this game set a new precedent for superhero games, and even made it to XBOX’s Platinum hits, which is no small feat for a traditionally shitty movie based game.
Spiderman 2 was the first in the long series of titles modeled after our friendly neighborhood web-head, which offered a free-roaming New York to go about fighting petty crimes, and baddies in a GTA style environment of quasi-freedom. It was even voiced by Toby Macguire – the Peter Parker we’re all doing our best to forget. Especially the Emo-Jazzcat version in Spiderman 3. There were other additions to the series with this style of freedom based gameplay that were NOT based on a movie release, most notably for me as a drooling spider-fan: Spiderman: Web of Shadows.
Getting back to this day in age, as soon as this game was announced I knew it must be mine, and so it is. So True Believers: Is this game worth your money and time? Let’s swing into The Amazing Spiderman 2 and you be the judge. (And no, I will not apologize for ANY corny Spidey jokes in this post.)
One feature which perked my interest with this game was the re-vamped web-sling mechanic. In application it is very reminiscent of Spiderman 2’s more realistic version of web-slinging. Unlike the previous Amazing Spiderman game you can’t magically “Sky-Sling” high above the skyscrapers, and must rely on buildings that are in-range and relative to your altitude. Much like Spiderman 2, each trigger corresponds to it’s respective web-shooter while traversing Manhattan. This made for some clumsy, noobish and embarrassing web-slinging at first as I wrapped my head around the new hotness, and to the artificial onlookers on the sidewalk it must have appeared that Spidey was black-out drunk.
Admittedly after a good 6-7 hours of gameplay I still find myself over-shooting a turn while chasing a getaway car, or slamming into the side of a building as I attempt to live up to the Parker hype. Trust me, it’s fun learning how to web sling, and after a fairly early unlock you gain the web-boost ability which helps you use speed and accuracy to launch yourself into the air, or use a webline to vault gaps in the skyline rather than helplessly fall to the street. Use caution when boosting however, I discovered a game-breaking bug which clipped me into a water-tower after which I was stuck in a perpetual free-fall and had to restart the checkpoint to free myself. (Beenox: OOPS!)
The free-roaming aspects are similar, but not a re-hash of the repetitive mini-crimes which happen in previous titles. Added to the mix in this installment is building fires, bomb threats, and newer more challenging revamps on assisting pinned down cops, and other classic items like Break & Enters, public disturbances, etc. In Amazing Spiderman 2 however they have introduced a new character element called Hero or Menace. If you fail, or neglect crimes in progress they will expire and push you toward the menace side during which J Jonah Jameson will give you an earful on the Daily Bugle News Network.
The more of a bumbling menace you become, the more attention you attract from Oscorp’s law enforcement task-force. A high-tech patrol of robot baddies, and armed thugs on goblin gliders funded by local philanthropist and (crime kingpin) Wilson Fisk. Yes: The Kingpin is in this game. I haven’t completed the campaign yet, because I’m a huge explore/stop and smell the roses type of gamer with titles like this.
The story so far is pretty good, the round-up of Spiderman’s rogues gallery is satisfying and I haven’t encountered them all. On the list so far is Kingpin, Black Cat, The Shocker, Electro, Kraven The Hunter (who starts off as a mentor who practically wants to adopt Spiderman instead of kill him and send him to a taxidermist…), Harry Osborn/Green Goblin, and likely others. Through mini missions outside the main plot, I learned the Police are hunting down the classic Hammerhead villain, and a gruesome serial killer who leaves the initials CK written in blood at each scene. The media has dubbed him “The Carnage Killer.” hmmm I wonder who he could be.
For the details obsessed people like myself there’s cool locations for you to vist such as Aunt May’s house where you can replay unlocked missions, change your unlocked costumes, but sadly can’t sit down and eat her famous wheat-cakes. The unlockable costumes in this game are actually more than cosmetic this time as they each have their own traits which you can level up. I found that rather cool instead of just a new costume with no functional benefits in gameplay.
Another awesome location is a comic store owned by none other than Stan Lee. Again Stan-The-Man lends his voice to the movie series, and has some great lines. At the comic shop you can read entire digital versions of comics you unlock by finding “hidden” comic pages throughout the city, figurines, concept art, and you’ll also find an arcade machine where you can play a b-list “horde mode” or battle royale against waves of thugs.
All in all the story is a strong mix of elements from the original classic comics, and the Ultimate Universe. Voice acting is a little…campy but hey, what can you expect. The plot supposedly takes place in the aftermath of the 2nd film, but has it’s confusing parts such as a chance meeting with Max Dillon (AKA Electro) which is seemingly for the first time. Oh well. I was too busy beating the snot out of petty thugs to really care about one interaction with a poorly designed Jamie Fox lookalike with a comb-over.
Combat is faster, and more fluid than the last title, but the stealth missions can get frustrating due to some jittery controls at first. It didn’t take me long to figure out how best to approach these indoor scenarios and they are an improvement over ASM 1. But be prepared for some true WTF moments as you learn the webs…er ropes.
They’ve added sequences where you play as Peter Parker, using his Daily Bugle press-pass to get into places and interview/gather intel on characters, etc. The Mass Effect style dialogue selection is a nice touch, but the silly dialogue in some instances make you scratch your head, like for instance when asking heatscore questions to Wilson Fisk about “What his problem is with Spiderman.” or “I heard your Oscorp taskforce was corrupt!”
All in all, it’s a good game for die-hards like-myself to jump into and swing around in superhero bliss. If you go into this game expecting an award winning stupendous Walloping Webshooter of a game… Don’t. It’s one of those titles that is what it is. A Spiderman Game. Love it or hate it however, you’ll still have some fun. A side-note for Beenox though… By wielding the franchise they have been granted the power to create some seriously Spectacular experiences in the future. But of course: With great power, comes great responsibility.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back often for more great gaming goodness right here, at Teabag or Die.