The Amazing Spider-Man Review
Hello, true believers! Just as Marc Webb and his production team have taken the Spider-Man film franchise in a totally different direction this Summer, such is the inspiration for the first video game tie-in, I thought I’d conduct this review in a slightly different manner to whatever the ‘norm’ may be. How? I’m going to round up all of the key questions that I’ve heard asked about The Amazing Spider-Man to sum up just whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash, getting to the point on each topic as quickly as possible to make the ultimate verdict as clear and definitive as possible. So, without further ado, let the review commence…
Is The Amazing Spider-Man a good movie game?
The short answer? Heck yes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the best movie licensed video game that gamers will have seen in a long time, packing a very compelling narrative, solid game-play and plenty of incentives to explore its deep and rich world. This kind of effort from developer Beenox puts previous identikit effortless movie instalments including Monsters Vs Aliens and Green Lantern to utter shame.
Does it match up to Spider-Man 2, Beenox’s other efforts and/or Arkham City?
Right from the off, many of you will no doubt have wondered whether this movie tie-in could possibly live up to what are perceived as the best Spider-Man games, recent Spidey efforts from Beenox and indeed the legendary Batman: Arkham City. What I’ll do first is provide a brief list of the scores I would have given to the past aforementioned games:
- Spider-Man 2 (2004): 4/5
- Ultimate Spider-Man (2005): 4/5
- Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows (2008): 3/5
- Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010): 3/5
- Spider-Man: Edge Of Time (2011): 2/5
- Batman: Arkham City (2011): 5/5
You can look down at the score I’ve given Amazing below, but in essence, this is right up there with the best entries in the Spider-Man games roster so far. This almost does for Stan Lee’s Webbed Wonder what Arkham Asylum kicked off for the Dark Knight, yet there is a little too much crawling in repetitive sewers, Oscorp facilities, factories and sewers (oops, did I already mention that?) for this to be dubbed truly as ‘amazing’ a development as the Arkham series.
It’s probably fair to say that this may be the best Spider-Man game of all time, but all the same that doesn’t mean that it’s up on the same level as Batman’s best just yet.
How strong is the game’s storyline? Does it feel like a pointless epilogue?
Recent movie games like Thor and Captain America have attempted to pull off epilogue storylines to their film inspirations which have just failed to add anything substantial to what we’ve seen on the big screen. Thankfully, Amazing takes the same route but does it with such aplomb and confidence thanks to Marvel’s allowance of creative vision on the part of the writing team that it can’t help but wow the player.
After the events of the film, Peter Parker’s alter-ego is forced to live with the consequences of his actions as his attempts to stop the Lizard have put someone in power at Oscorp who poses perhaps an even greater threat. Surprisingly enough, this man is not Norman Osborn, yet the hints we get at his overarching role in this rebooted universe and the shocking plot twists that occur throughout the game are incredibly effective, doing to the film franchise what the Arkham games did to their self-contained version of the DC Comics universe.
While this game isn’t intended to connect The Amazing Spider-Man to its 2014 sequel, the narrative is a sublime adventure for players to blitz through, really upping the stakes in a way that other movie games could only aspire to.
Will the visuals impress me as much as Arkham City’s did?
Sadly, no. One of the only major faults I can pick out in Amazing are the graphics of the game. Much as Beenox have clearly put a lot of effort into creating a living and breathing replica of a modern-day Manhattan in their engine, the majority of the buildings, characters and environments on offer here are bland to say the very least.
It was never likely going to be possible for a movie game whose budget was sparse to say the least to match up to Rocksteady’s sublime, beautiful epic. Nevertheless, it is a shame that we’ve got graphics here that are more reminiscent of 2008’s Web Of Shadows than they are of Arkham. Maybe next time, then…
Does the free-roaming Manhattan work well as an open-world?
Thankfully, this one is most definitely a positive. Although it perhaps doesn’t sport as wide a variety of (divisive) mini-games as the Spider-Man 2 tie-in’s incarnation of the Big Apple, this version of Manhattan is the most believable and realistic rendition of the city yet. Indeed, it truly fits in with the vision of the Marc Webb film reboot, and anyone who picks this title up shortly after watching that great movie as I did will relish in the grounded similarities of the open world at hand.
The new Web Rush mechanic allows for great, fluid navigation of the skyscrapers and roads in a way that no other game based around everyone’s favourite Webbed Wonder has before. Just swinging through Manhattan will feel pretty exhilarating to the vast majority of fans, and the action-packed battles you’ll partake in on the city’s various layers simply enhances the sheer immersion that this open-world exudes every time you boot it up.
Is the combat and stealth gameplay engine just a rehash of the Batman games?
There’s no doubting that Beenox have taken inspiration from the popularity of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City’s gameplay style in their road of development for Amazing. Anyone who’s played either of the aforementioned Dark Knight greats will smell their scent here from a mile off, and as such there’s no way this licensed title could ever hope to fully top its superhero predecessor in terms of basic innovation.
Again, the Web Rush feature factors strongly into the way that Spider-Man faces his enemies, and for the most part this works marvel-lously (see what I did there?). However, the actual combat-counter system a la Arkham feels somewhat more static than its inspiration – there will be times where you’ll take hits that seemed unfair and the ‘Spider Sense’ alert mechanic doesn’t appear to give you nearly enough leeway. It’s nothing game-breaking by any means, but it does certainly highlight the learning gap between this and the near-perfect mechanics employed over in Gotham City in the past.
What kind of replay value (if any) is there in the title?
As I mentioned earlier, Beenox’s dedication to providing us with a Spider-Man title worthy of the universe’s fanbase has resulted in some brilliant extras being included on top of the campaign. In addition to the obligatory heaping of side missions and character upgrades, there are literally hundreds of comic-book pages scattered throughout the city for Spidey to grab on his travels.
Where other licensed titles might stop there and simply offer a few Achievements or Trophies at certain percentages of collection, the developers take things one step further. Once you’ve collected the required numbers of pages, you’ll actually have the chance to read the stories you’ve pieced together. Yep, from the classic issue of Amazing Fantasy that introduced us to the arachnid wonder to his own title’s first renditions of in-game baddies such as Rhino, Scorpion and Alistair Smythe, there really are some fantastic adventures to learn about or relive here, and it stands testament to Beenox’s attention to detail and nostalgia that they would include such a worthy source of replay value into a movie licensed game.
Is The Amazing Spider-Man worth my £40?
This is what I believe to be the fundamental question that gamers ask of critics when they start to read a review, and too often is their messenger’s response left unnecessarily ambiguous and open-ended. I’m here to tell you right now, then, that if you’re a fan of the Spider-Man comics (and/or movie) universe who has been let down by the game adaptations of his exciting adventures in the past, The Amazing Spider-Man will most certainly mark a satisfying end to the period of disappointment you’ve had to endure. It boasts a well-written narrative that really does successfully act as an epilogue to the new film, as well as great (if stolen) gameplay and heaps of replay value that make it more than worth your cash.
For gamers entering the fray with less expectations of webbed nostalgia and more hopes for this to be the next Arkham City, there’s a chance they will come away disappointed. That’s not to say that this isn’t a great game, because it is, but up to Batman’s level Amazing certainly is not, and there’s a way to go before it can hope to earn the 5/5 score I’m sure its developers are striving so heavily for. If you’re going in with those expectations alone, then it might be worth your while waiting until the inevitable price drop occurs once the film’s place in the charts starts to fall.
I think it’s fair to say that no-one would ever have expected The Amazing Spider-Man to have been Game Of The Year standard. What has been a hugely pleasant surprise, though, is that were it not for the stolen gimmicks and lacklustre visuals, I think this entry really has come closer than any other Spidey game to being considered for that accolade in my view than ever before. You have to wonder, if this is what Beenox can achieve now in a movie licensed game, then what glories will their next home-grown franchise instalment hold…?
Food for thought indeed. For now, though, Excelsior!