Since the early 80s, Spidey has made an appearance on nearly every gaming console but it wasn’t until he swung into an open-world environment did we truly understand what “with great power comes great responsibility” meant. While the first The Amazing Spider-Man game was generally well received as it had a storyline that served as an epilogue to its cinematic companion, The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s lifeless storyline and uninspired side-missions will leave you tangled in a mess of webs.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 weaves a very different tale, so much so that you might even wonder how it can be considered a movie tie-in. Sure the Green Goblin and Electro are on the scene, but the game instead focuses on Spidey’s hunt to find Uncle Ben’s killer through the underworld of New York. He quickly learns that the city’s thugs are on the verge of a major gang war, while at the same time, a serial killer is going all Dexter-like and butchering criminals. While deviating from the plot of the film isn’t necessarily bad, as developer Beenox is allowed some freedom to tell its own Spider-Man tale by including supervillains, like Black Cat, Kraven the Hunter, and even Carnage It’s as if the large variety of supervillains were included solely for fan service, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if the story wasn’t such a mess.
In terms of gameplay, one of the biggest changes is the web slinging. The idea is simple — the left trigger controls left hand while the right trigger controls his right hand. This time around your web lines need to actually attach to a nearby building or structure (yep, invisible air swinging is a thing of the past), thus making swinging require more skill. It actually feels pretty great and achieves a sense of speed as you acrobatically move around the city, skimming over taxis and fluidly taking corners — and that’s not even mentioning the slingshot move that can catapult you at high speed, or the slow-mo maneuver that lets you pinpoint certain jump points. Regrettably, everything else in the game is not as innovative.
As you work your way through the game’s fourteen, obscenely short, main story missions, you’ll not only be using your powers to get around and fight groups of thugs, but also to hide in the shadows in a very similar way to those found in the recent Batman games. You’ll be hiding on perches while using your Spider-Sense to track the path of the guards, picking them off one by one or avoiding them completely. But unlike the Caped Crusader, these stealth sequences offer a little more freedom, as Spidey’s ability to crawl up the walls and onto ceilings offers up more options, but you’ll consistently struggle with both the controls and the camera as you find yourself stuck to surfaces with no idea if it’s a wall or a ceiling.
Combat scenarios focus on a counter heavy combat system, and you’ll be tackling a variety of foes armed with everything from guns to their bare fists. If you are familiar with Batman’s Arkham fighting style, you will feel right at home as Spider-Man, though its definitely not quite as clean or smooth as it could have been. When an enemy is about to attack, your Spider-Sense will tingle, highlighting the foe in red, and a quick press of the button will trigger a counter, letting you block the attack and turn the tables on your assailant. Hits as a whole lack an impact, and despite the fact that the frame-rate remains fairly consistent, Spidey’s animations are incredibly poor, and on top of that you’ll have to watch the same few combos over and over. All you really need to do to win is mash the attack button and occasionally press the counter button to dodge and counterstike.
Once you veer off the main storyline, you’ll quickly grow tired of the lack of variety in the side missions. Not only are they repetitive, but you’ll be forced to occasionally complete them since Spider-Man needs to maintain a Heroic status to avoid constant harassment by the newly implemented Enhanced Crime Task Force. So be prepared to rotate between side-missions based on chasing down speeding cars, saving people from burning buildings and carrying a ticking time bomb out of a populated area.
However, there are other attempts to populate the city with things to do in order to pad out the experience. These include photo investigations, audio logs, and alternative Spider-Man suits, which provide a variety of additional skill bonuses. Sadly, none of this adds enough to keep you engaged once you’re done with the story.
Put simply, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t a horrible game, it’s just not that amazing. Though slightly entertaining, it’s yet another example of what happens when games are rushed out to coincide with a movie release date.
Editor’s Note: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was reviewed using a downloadable Xbox 360 copy of the game provided by the publisher.