The Amazing Spider-Man PS3 Review
There’s no doubt that if you have an interest in this game, you’ve probably already seen The Amazing Spider-Man film. You might have enjoyed it or you might have hated it and preferred Sam Raimi’s vision of the web shooting hero. Either way, what really matters with this movie license video game adaption is if it’s any good. We all know most license games based on their respective films usually end up mediocre or terrible. There’s a few exceptions, but those can most likely be counted on your fingers. The studio behind this latest Spider-Man adaption is Beenox, a development team that isn’t unfamiliar with Spider-Man – they made the last two Spider-Man games, Edge of Time and Shattered Dimensions. The question is then, have they learnt from the past to create an Amazing (you knew it was coming) Spider-Man game?
Rather than the game being a one-for-one replicate of the film’s story, Beenox has instead elected to place the storyline after the Hollywood movie. The plot begins with Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker exploring – during an interactive, first-person viewed scripted scene – Oscorp and discovering that cross species experiments are still going on, only this time it’s splicing human DNA with animals, causing some very bizarre looking animal humanoids. These cross species can sense other cross species around them and things get out of control when a human scorpion senses Peter Parker and enrages, escaping along with other experimented animals into the open world, infecting civilians and poor Gwen in the process. It’s up to Peter Parker to put a stop to this, but to find a cure he’s going to need the help of a certain Dr. Curt Connors – the infamous Lizard.
Spider-Man junkies will be interested in seeing Alistair Smythe, the guy in control at Oscorp’s research facility. He’s created an army of robots with the sole purpose of hunting down cross species, which also includes poor Spider-Man. Other villains like Rhino and Scorpion also appear, but with new animal based designs. I can’t say I like them portrayed this way as it makes them become generic animal men. The game feels empty on characters, like it’s missing that big key villain and instead feels like a few B-villains are filling in because the A-list bad guys are busy (probably aren’t allowed to fit them in the story as this is a sequel to the film). The story never did click for me. It’s amusing at times, but it never does anything to be memorable, and by God, that scene where you’re chasing the human rat doesn’t half drag on for too long. Decisions like these just bring down the overall story.
The Amazing Spider-Man can be broken down into two gameplay elements – the open world city of Manhattan and the action inside buildings. Many people will probably have their ears perked up after hearing that sentence. Fans have wanted the return of an open world Spider-Man for some time and finally the developers have listened and put it back in the game. Exploring the city can be fun when you’re blasting web and swinging around acting out your Spider-Man digital fantasy, but the open world aspect is never used to its full potential. Instead, it’s frequently used for repetitive side missions and a few large scale boss fights, which are kind of cool in their own right.
Getting around the city is easy with Spider-Man’s web swinging. All you need to do is hold down R2 and Spider-Man will automatically shoot out webbing when he needs to continue his momentum. Swinging can look weird because the webbing attaches to the sky and not to any buildings around him. I can understand why it looks this way. It’s a shortcut taken in design rather than going into detail with web attaching to buildings, but it does look strange when you’re in an area above smaller buildings and you’re swinging around with the webbing seemingly going off into the sky above. Maybe Spider-Man can attach to clouds or something? That detail aside, simply web slinging around the city is pure fun and the additional of web rush – this move makes the view turn first-person and slows down time allowing players to adjust their swinging angle fast and precisely (good for getting comics if you swing past them) on the fly – is a handy and neat inclusion.
There is a huge amount of side missions to complete that cover challenges such as taking infected civilians to medical facilities, stopping criminal activities, racing between checkpoints and finding hundreds of hidden comics (they unlock real Spider-Man comics at certain milestones) scattered around the city. Beenox has thrown in plenty of content to last you past the game’s 10 hours for the main campaign. The problem soon becomes apparent that this extra stuff is all mindless filler. I began to get bored of doing the same side missions over and over again with a sense of déjà vu creeping into my mind. Once you have experienced a side mission, it’s safe to say you’ll know what to expect the next time.
Inspiration from the Batman: Arkham series is clearly evident throughout many of the indoor sections of The Amazing Spider-Man. Having the powers of a spider allows Peter Parker to climb around the walls and ceilings of rooms – waiting for the right moment to use the sneak attack and attach a poor unsuspecting villain to the roof with webbing. It reminds me of the gargoyles in Batman: Arkham Asylum and even Batman in that game would tie them to ropes and hang people from the Gargoyles, similar to what Spider-Man does in this game, except it’s the only stealth move Spider-Man can do. The camera can occasionally flip out when you’re on the roof and near corners of the walls causing obstruction of the player’s view; thankfully, this mainly happens when silently stalking and not in the heat of the action.
Combat is extremely similar to the latest Batman titles, but not quite as robust as those games. It’s flashy and looks great when Spidey is pulling out all these kung fu and wrestling moves, but you feel like the game is doing all the work for you. All you need to do to get past most opposition is just mash square and look out for the tingling spider sense above Peter’s head and then press triangle to dodge an attack and carry on mashing square to continue your combo. Webbing is used to shoot foes from far away, disabling them for a few seconds so that you can get some free hits in. What the game needs is a variety of enemies that force you to use different skills – something that the Batman (got to stop talking about Batman, but it is so hard when it is clearly duplicated here) games do well. If you get surrounded by too many people or are getting shot at, you can use Spider-Man’s ability to shoot an escaping web shot that will attach you to a wall out of harm’s way. That move is very comparable to Batman’s (sorry…) grappling hook, and just like in those games it is extremely handy in The Amazing Spider-Man, perhaps too handy as I found it very easy to get myself to safety, like a get out of jail free card.
Defeating foes and completing any of the missions builds up experience points that let the player upgrade Spider-Man’s abilities or improve his gadgets, although gadget upgrades also require you to pick up the tech debris that falls out of robots and use that as a sort of currency. One key move that will be used almost all of the time is the signature move unlock. This skill acts as a finisher that will generally end in Spider-Man covering the evil doer in an outstanding mess of white, sticky solution sticking the helpless victim to the wall or ground, nasty. Rest of the unlocks fall into the typical areas, such as buffing attacks, becoming equipped to take more damage or better stealth. Many of them feel useless, so I never felt any sort of disappointment when I didn’t maximise them all out.
Graphically, The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t stick out from modern games. Many of the environments are rather boring – lifeless and bland to be exact. They seem to act more as an area of space for you to move around in, so the environments are all repetitive rather than distinctively standing out. Animations in combat are nice and seem to flow together when Spidey is pulling all his acrobatic combos. I also have a soft spot for the new Spider-Man suit; it looks great in this game. Voice acting is convincing, which makes sense since it has the likes of Nolan North as Alistair Smythe, Steve Blum as the Lizard and Sam Riegel as Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
Just like the movie isn’t the best Spider-Man movie, this Spider-Man game isn’t the greatest game in the history of Spider-Man, but it certainly isn’t the worst either. The story might be a bit crappy and some of the design choices on the villains are questionable. Putting that all aside, you are left with a game that is fun, has flashy combat and an open world, that, while in need of some improvement, is quite entertaining to just swing around in and explore for the secrets.
As it goes, this game is better than last year’s Edge of Time and should be considered if you’re feeling the need to act out a Spider-Man fantasy without getting into your own costume and causing harm to yourself as you try to wall climb up your house wall. It’s not amazing to do something like that, but it sure can be amusing, just like this game.