The Amazing Spider-Man 2 the movie, in theaters now, is turning out to be fairly divisive: You either love it or you hate it. Amazing Spider-Man 2 the game, on the other hand, is going to fall very clearly on the “hate it” side of many gamers.
This can most likely be attributed to the fact that the game's story is disjointed and the voice acting is poor, or maybe it could be due to the fact that nothing about this game screams “PlayStation 4” and that the game wasn't optimized for the system in the least. No, it's probably due to the fact this game is a lazy, shallow cash-in that contains the same problems as the last four Spider-Man games.
Spider-Man deserves better – we deserve better. I half expected to see the name "J. Jonah Jameson" in the credits due to how badly this game mars the reputation of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Is Anything Amazing About This Game?
Surprisingly, this game isn't all bad, even managing to do a few things right.
The Web Swinging
The web swinging takes cues from the video game adaptation of Spider-Man 2, the game that defined how to pull off web swinging in an open world environment. Each trigger corresponds to one of Spider-Man's arms and his webs need to actually stick to an object before he can swing off of it. Combined with moves like the Web Rush and Slingshot, Spider-Man can quickly traverse the city. If there is one thing the game does right, it's making you feel like Spider-Man, at least in terms of movement.
The stealth sections take a cue from the Arkham series and are one of the best parts of the game. If you've played the Arkham series, you know what to expect, right down to the X-Ray vision. Unfortunately, the stealth sections in this game are few and far between, so one of the only good parts of the game you'll barely be playing. There is a lot of potential here, but it's unlikely it will ever be realized.
Strong Knowledge of Spider-Man Lore
Beenox definitely knows their Spider-Man lore, and nowhere is this is more apparent in the comics shop. You'll see comics for Solo and Prowler (who were supporting cast members in the 90s), a range of obscure and interesting costumes and even an interesting cameo by Stan Lee. Beenox knows their stuff, it's just a shame that it's attached to such an awful game.
Without going into any spoilers, the story segments that focus on Carnage are pretty fantastic. It's just everything else in-between these segments is awful.
The Mediocre Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has some truly odd design choices that aren't good, but they aren't necessarily bad either. These are the sort of things that make you just shrug your shoulders and wonder what the developers were thinking.
The Peter Parker Sections
At certain parts in the game, Spider-Man will use his Peter Parker alter-ego to investigate some civilian friendly areas or talk to his friends. This is a good idea, in theory, but these sections are just boring and you'll be counting down the minutes until you suit up again. In the Arkham games, the brief moments when you play as Bruce Wayne were action-packed and moved the story along. In Amazing Spider-Man 2, playing as Peter Parker is boring, full of boring dialogue and the story could be moved along in the same way if you were Spider-Man.
It's like they just added the Peter Parker segments so they could add another bullet point to the back of the box, not because they were necessarily good ideas.
Mass Effect Dialogue Choices
Frequently during the game are Mass Effect style dialogue choices where you can learn more information from the character you are questioning. Again, this is boring. The dialogue is stilted, not very interesting and you can safely skip all of the optional choices and still understand the plot of the game perfectly. It's not like these choices influence the dialogue at all – after selecting one choice, you'll be given the option to select the others. It's pointless padding.
It's just another bullet point for the back of the box, just another "feature" the publisher can point to and say "Wow, this game includes features no other Spider-Man game has ever included!" Jack of all trades, master of none, except even that is giving this game too much credit.
So Many Collectibles
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has 300 comic books for you to collect, hidden across the city's rooftops. While these comics unlock actual comics you can read, it just feels like busy work. It's 2014, do we really need collectibles to pad out a game's length? Do we really need 300 of the damn things?
The Truly Awful
Now this review is going to start getting fun -- let's take a look at where The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just outright fails.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a lot in common with a tree: Both are wooden. None of the animations in the game feel fluid at all, from the web swinging to the combat. As a result, the combat just comes across as unsatisfying and the web swinging, which is fun to perform, looks odd as you watch Spider-Man stretch into a stiff board at the end of every swing.
Unlike Arkham, Spider-Man won't really learn any new combat techniques as the game progresses. You'll be using the same combos at the end of the game that you do at the very beginning. While Spider-Man does get two new skills, these skills are only used for very specific combat instances. Even the enemies feel copied from the Arkham series, especially “big guy who needs to be stunned before you can punch him” and “boss who charges at you and you can only damage him after stunning him via his charge.”
Arkham was great because it adapted its gameplay mechanics around Batman. Those same mechanics don't adapt well to Spider-Man at all.
Awful Voice Acting
In 2014, you'd think that developers and publishers would realize the importance of hiring competent voice actors. While the game does feature Steve Blum as Kraven the Hunter, that's where the good voice acting ends. The voice for Spider-Man is irritating, made even worse by the fact he never shuts up. You're going to hear the same quips over and over again: “I wonder if I could be friends with JJ,” “I shouldn't eat garlic pizza before putting on my mask.” Shut up, Spider-Man. Please, just shut up.
Spider-Man, please stop moving
I'll just refer to my notes for this one:
“Stop moving around in cutscenes, Spider-Man. You're like a crack addict.”
During every cutscene, Spider-Man will constantly fidget, move around and otherwise act like a kid who is jazzed up on pixie sticks. It's super annoying.
Too Many Villains
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the same problem the movie has: It has too many damn villains. The game will introduce a villain and discard him just as fast. The worst instance of this is when the game suddenly remembers it's a movie game and shoehorns in Electro and Green Goblin at literally the last hour of the game. There is no real motive, no story behind these two bosses, just a feeling of “Oh snap, we actually should use the movie's villains at some point.”
At least the Electro and Green Goblin boss fights are decent, despite the fact they feel so very out of place in the game's narrative.
Same Old Boring Villains
Seriously, how many times do I need to fight Shocker, Kraven and Kingpin in my Spider-Man games?
Give me a Spider-Man game that features Boomerang, Hobgoblin, Beetle, Mysterio, Tombstone, Vulture, or even Spot. Spider-Man has a very large rogues gallery so why do we keep dipping into the same few characters over and over again? What is Beenox's fascination with Kraven and Shocker?
It was awesome that they included Carnage, who isn't frequently seen in Spider-Man games, but there are so many more villains you could use.
That Cliffhanger Ending
Did you seriously just end on a sort of cliffhanger, The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Are you attempting to build some kind of cohesive Spider-Man universe, despite the fact you're nothing more than a movie tie-in?
This game doesn't know what it wants to be. It's quite obvious that Beenox wants to make a real Spider-Man game and not continue to make this movie tie-in garbage. I laughed at the cliffhanger ending, and the fact that any hypothetical Amazing Spider-Man 3 tie-in game will likely just ignore it, if one will even exist.
Poor Side Mission Execution
The side missions are the same boring garbage we've had in Spider-Man games for years: Save the civilians, stop a car chase, beat up some thugs. However, Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't content with just giving you an experience you already know – it wants to give you a worse one.
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, each time you start a side mission, i.e a crime in progress, the game will load the crime scene and place you in a predetermined location. After you complete it, you will be forced to watch some annoying 5-second newsreel about how you saved the day and be placed at a random location in the city.
Going to stop a petty crime isn't just you swinging in, getting the drop on some bad guys and swinging out. No, it's getting close to the crime scene and waiting for a loading screen. Bam, you're suddenly on the ground fighting two or three thugs. Another loading screen and you're treated to a 5-second clip of the Daily Bugle calling you that you're great, at which point you get another loading screen and then you're up on a building.
Imagine in Arkham City if the game had to load each time you went to fight a criminal. It completely breaks immersion and the constant loading is obnoxious.
Hero or Menace System is a Menace
The much lauded Hero or Menace system is just flat out broken. Completing side quests makes Spider-Man a hero and causes the citizens of New York City to love him. Ignoring the side quests makes you a menace, causing you to have to fight the police and anti-vigilante task force while you swing around the city. It's as annoying as it sounds – you just want to swing around the city and explore, yet the game forces you to do the boring side missions or fight off annoyances if you ignore them.
This wouldn't be so bad except the game very quickly drops you to menace standing due to an unfair game mechanic. Side missions across the map, ones that you couldn't have ever gotten to in time, will rapidly expire one after the other; now, you're suddenly a menace and it's time to do some side missions to be a hero again.
In addition, being a menace lowers your stats so yea, you're going to want to remain a hero at all times. Just more useless padding. Just another half-cooked gameplay mechanic, just another bullet point.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
There isn't one.
Spider-Man's character model looks nice, I'll admit that. However, the rest of the game looks like trash and doesn't even look good by PlayStation 3 standards. The load times are abysmal, there is a moderate amount of screen tearing, and the game features no PlayStation 4 exclusive features.
Save yourself $10 and just get this on the PlayStation 3.
If you're a trophy hunter, however, at least this game is an easy platinum. It's time-consuming, but easy.
The Final Verdict
In my notes I took for the game while reviewing it, I concluded them with the following sentence:
“Beenox can do so much better.”
In an age where Rocksteady has revolutionized the superhero video game genre, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a holdout from the year 2001, which might in fact be giving the actual games of 2001 unfair criticism. It's hard to recommend this below average game to even the most stalwart Spider-Man fans. If you're craving a Spider-Man game, at least wait for it to hit the bargain bin, which shouldn't be long.
Maybe one day, Beenox will actually get the lengthy development cycle they need to create a truly amazing Spider-Man game.
Final Score: 4/10
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 5/6/2014