There have been over 30 video games based on the Marvel character Spider-Man dating back all the way to the Atari. Publishing studio Activision has even been responsible for seven free-roaming Spider-Man games since 2004. So When I got the chance to review The Amazing Spider-Man 2 I got hit by childhood Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia (beware: it is contagious) and fear. Fear that it would be another swing and miss for my favorite web slinger and fear that it would be another movie tie-in game poorly made in a mad dash to cash in on the popularity of a film. However I put my fear and doubt aside because of nostalgia and because I hoped that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would be the Spider-Man game that got it right instead of being another failed attempt at web slinging greatness.
Before playing I hadn’t seen the film so I didn’t know much about what was going on. Luckily, the game isn’t a direct rehash of the events from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie. The game is based loosely on the world the movie created meaning certain things that happen in the game may have or have not occurred in the film. This works because it allows more wiggle room in creating a story instead of having players go through the same sequence of events they most likely watched on the big screen.
Swinging into things, I found the story interesting because it dug into the Spider-Man lore and introduced a new spin on some old faces.The film that the game is loosely based on features characters such as The Rhino, Electro, Green Goblin and love interest Gwen Stacey. While the game introduces characters prominent in the comics such as Black Cat, King Pin, The Shocker, Kraven, Carnage, Green Goblin, Electro, and Chameleon. The problem is none of those characters’ stories gets flushed out much. When interacting with other characters as Peter Parker the game gives you choices in dialogue but none of them ever affect the outcome of events or conversations which makes them a bit boring. For example when talking to Kraven, Peter can talk to him about his opinions on killing or about Kraven’s abnormal strength. The dialogue feels more like a way to expand the plot but falls short since it is often boring and feels unnecessary (there is evil to be fought for god’s sake).
From my experience, a game’s ending can make or break it. The final few minutes of a game can give players closure or evoke a multitude of negative emotions (Mass Effect 3 I’m looking at you). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a good story but the ending feels rushed and made me wonder if the developers could have fleshed things out a bit more or at least made the events that did occur feel more significant. By the end I felt as though developers tossed in a bunch of characters (mainly villains) to build upon a future story ark however I felt that choice weakened the offerings of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This occurred with many of the villains I encountered during boss fights,which is sad because boss fights are supposed to make you feel emotionally invested. I didn’t get much enjoyment out of defeating the bosses because I hardly knew them(On to the next one). I would have preferred to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 utilize a smaller roster so that it could focus and develop it’s characters to give Spider-Man and the players something to actually fight for.
Where The Amazing Spider-Man 2 shines is in the web slinging, I could honestly write a whole review about how amazing the web slinging is. In past Spider-Man games players would web sling and somehow the web would stick to some invisible cloud or surface and through some kind of witchcraft players would swing around the city. With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 the developers have acknowledged the presence of gravity and physics and the web slinging actually attaches to buildings. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but it has made the feel and the look of the web slinging superior to that of past iterations.
Swinging through the city you feel the weight and speed of the swings, you are also able to increase the momentum of the swings using the analog sticks. Each trigger controls an arm which really immures the player into being Spider-Man. The fact that players have to swing nearby actual buildings or structures makes things more realistic and makes players have to think about how they can pull off their next swing without falling to the ground. The swinging was epic and was a huge factor in making Spider-Man feel real and the experience feel cohesive for the players, but sadly the combat fell flat.
The combat feels as though developer studio Beenox sampled 10 percent of the combat from the Arkham video game series and based all of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 combat on that. It’s sad because the button mashing becomes repetitive and I found myself wanting more. I was nimble and I was quick but all I could do were the same few moves over and over again and that made the combat grow stale. I’d see some bad guys smack them around (mash square), evade some of their attacks when my spider sense tingled (mash triangle)and then I’d swoop in for one last punch (mash square) and they’d be out for the count. The game tries to avoid this by utilizing some stealth features however it feels clunky at times, and a bit unimaginative which is sad because of the possibilities that are available when playing as a character as unique as Spider-Man.
All in all The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of the best Spider-Man games I’ve played in a while. It is not flawless, but the flaws don’t hinder the super-hero shenanigans and the amazing web slinging. At the end of the day The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fun game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and succeeds where previous Spider-Man titles failed. I think it is a title that will scratch the itch of Spider-Man fans and the casual comic book junkie.
Michael Phillips is a broadcast journalism major who spends his days working at a Los Angeles radio station and teaching for a nonprofit education company. He is an avid gamer who has been in love...