The Amazing Spider-Man Xbox 360 Review
Publisher - Activision – Developer – Beenox – Genre – Action – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii
Whilst Beenox’s first two Spider-Man offerings, Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time, were likeable in their own ways, it still felt as if something was missing without a more open environment for Spidey to swing around in and better show the potential of the iconic Marvel hero that was first displayed in Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2. So needless to say with fellow film game The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s great to see a larger world once again to swing through.
In somewhat of a strange move, the story of the game takes place following the events of the film, so if you haven’t already seen it and plan to do so, you’re advised to watch it before playing the game as there’s some major spoilers. None of the actors voices or faces from the film are used, though the voice acting is nevertheless respectable, with Spidey’s all important wit delivered enthusiastically by his voice actor Sam Riegel.
The Manhattan environment featured isn’t vast, and is nondescript and lacking in life, of which is unfortunate, but it’s nevertheless a good thing to finally see a Spider-Man game with more freedom after the last couple of games were so linear in their structure.
Swinging is once again an enjoyable method of getting around, even though it’s somewhat disappointing that navigation around the city is so rudimentary, allowing you to just hold down a button, to shoot endless streams of web that doesn’t even have to latch on to buildings and such, though the developer does a fine job at hiding this fact, by having the camera constantly positioned behind Spidey at all times, which also has the advantages of granting additional immersion and excitement to swinging through the city and allowing you to get a good look at the detailed character model and slick animations of the web-slinger.
There’s a whole new Web Rush mechanic that sends the game into a slow motion first-person view and allows you to select what area to head to, provided it’s within close enough proximity. Selecting an area will see Spidey automatically head there, bouncing off and running along walls and rooftops if need be, to reach his destination. It’s a neat idea that allows you to easily and immediately change direction and reach areas in a flash, and the game really benefits from its inclusion.
Unfortunately though, whilst it’s undoubtedly a good thing to have a bigger environment once again, it falls into the trap of too many other sandbox games of not always having enough interesting things to do within the confines of its city. There are petty crimes to thwart, sniper teams to take out, photos to take and speeding cars to stop, and people to rescue, amongst other things. Most of these are inoffensive and enjoyable enough diversions, but aren’t very substantial or challenging, and play out much the same way towards the end of the game as they do at the beginning and, ultimately, above anything else, they just really feel as if they were thrown in to pad out the game.
There’s the occasional meatier side mission that allow you to unlock new abilities and are structured like the primary missions. There are also 700 comic pages to find around the city (someone’s been careless) and finding so many will unlock comics for you to view, such as the very first Spider-Man, detailing the origin and birth of the legendary hero, as well as issues documenting his first encounters with some of his most famous enemies, all of which is a nice little bit of fan service.
Too much of the game takes place in bland interior environments such as sewers and labs which largely aren’t as interesting as the city, and their more compact size means swinging around them simply isn’t as enjoyable. You’ll also be doing the typical objective such as flipping switches, or destroying things, whilst bosses rarely require much in the way of strategy and aren’t very interesting encounters on the whole, really.
The combat is lifted wholesale from Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games, though it’s not quite as fluid and skill based. Like those wonderful games, it’s a simplistic system that has an emphasis on countering attacks and building combos to unlock more damaging manoeuvres. Stealth also functions similarly to Rocksteady’s games, allowing you to sneak up on your enemies and attack them from the safety of the ceiling, wrapping them in web, and if you get spotted there’s a web retreat that allows you to easily get away.
The Amazing Spider-Man brings the web crawler back to where he belongs, though it’s just a shame that the larger scale environment isn’t better utilized and that the swing system to navigate around it is so simplistic. Nevertheless, the game has plenty of strengths to make up for these disappointments, such as the sensible and genuinely useful Web Rush resulting in the most visually exciting Spider-Man game, and a combat system that, whilst lifted from a better game, is perhaps the best system to have ever graced a game starring Marvel’s amazing hero.