Platforms: PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 3DS, iOS, Android
Release Date: April 29th
Oh boy, it’s that time again. When a big Hollywood movie comes out, there pretty much has to be some video game attached to it. And they are almost always awful. But maybe this time it’ll be different. Developer Beenox has pretty much done nothing but Spider-Man games since 2010, with Amazing Spider-Man 2 being their fourth Spider-Man game.
While it runs concurrently to the timeline of the film, it is a story all on its own. That’s always a plus, so it’s not a game awkwardly shoe-horned into a movie plot. So with all the previous experience Beenox has and making the game in the same universe as the movie but not same plot as the movie, does Amazing Spider-Man 2 work?
Editor’s Note: GameSided received contact from a representative for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, who informed us that the combat screenshot previously featured in the first section of this review was from the mobile version of the game, not the console version. We have removed the screenshot from the review and regret the error. -Daniel
Uglier Than The Vulture
Make no-bones about it, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just damn ugly. At the best of times it looks like a slightly high-res Playstation 2 game. Several characters from the movie are in the game (Peter Parker obviously, but also Aunt Mae, Harry Osborn, Max Dillon, etc.) but look absolutely nothing like their movie counterparts, giving the whole game the feel of a cheap knockoff. It gets worse when you fight the extremely generic low detail thugs (and they all pretty much look the same even though there are supposed to be feuding gangs, it’s a big sub plot of the game), with frames of animation obviously missing and enemies even glitching into things like walls on an extremely regular basis.
I love Spider-Man; he’s my favorite hero. I think as a character he’s way better than Batman. That being said, Amazing Spider-Man 2 apes so many things from the Batman Arkham games it’s impossible not to compare the two. And in every instance, AmazingSpider-Man 2 is a poor imitator.
It’s even simple things like how swinging is actually kind of fun itself, but trying to traverse the city to actually get somewhere is a goddamn chore. Why? Because in trying to be realistic (in a COMIC BOOK VIDEO GAME ABOUT A GUY WHO WAS BITTEN BY A SPIDER AND GOT POWERS), Beenox decided you can only swing from stuff that’s actually there. So if you are too high up, you have to drop down some in order to swing places. And sometimes it doesn’t work and you just fall to the street. And while you can run up buildings, the wonky camera makes it incredibly difficult.
Then there’s your Spider-Sense. This is “detective vision,” but admittedly makes more sense. Too bad it doesn’t perform nearly as well. It just makes it incredibly hard to get your bearings and is often more of a hindrance than anything else. But it’s often needed to find objectives so you have to deal with it.
Stealth? Well it’s in there but in the most half-assed way possible. Yes, you can do stealth takedowns, but Spidey can’t do half the stuff he should be able to do like you know, crawl on ceilings or even duck behind something so “stealth” is often an exercise in frustration. It wouldn’t matter if there weren’t missions that pretty much hinged on you actually being stealthy.
Finally, the combat. It’s pretty much a shoddy rip-off of the combat from the Batman games, right down to the “counter at the right time” mechanic and one-button attacks. It’s functional, but incredibly sloppy. For example, if an enemy is about to attack you, he can pretty much “warp” to where you are to hit you regardless of his actual distance from you. You can shoot webbing at guys, but can’t choose who you aim at. Guess how often I shot at unarmed thugs instead of the guys with guns I actually wanted to shoot at?
Everywhere at Once
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is actually pretty jam packed with side stuff. You can take photos, diffuse bombs, rescue people from burning buildings, stop thugs from breaking into buildings and so on in addition to the main story.
The main problem with this is the “hero vs. menace” system. See, if you perform heroic deeds, your hero level rises, people like you and the cops pretty much leave you be. If you ignore this stuff, you become a “menace”. J Jonah Jameson slams you in broadcasts, and the police have it out for you (this becomes way worse when the streets are patrolled by increasingly powerful henchmen hired by The Kingpin to patrol the city).
Well no problem, just perform a few heroic deeds every now and again, and everybody loves Spidey, right? The problem is all of these are on some sort of mystery timer, set to go “critical” with no rhyme or reason and then it’s too late to stop them. I’ve often completed a task such as saving a citizen trapped under a car, only to have several other events I didn’t even know had popped up on the map suddenly go critical and my one good deed of course didn’t measure up to the several I wasn’t aware of. This is basically a not completely terrible idea executed extremely poorly. It’s like if not returning Roman’s annoying calls in GTA IV resulted in heavily armed gang bangers constantly hunting you down until you finally agreed to go bowling with him regardless of what else you had on your plate.
Spinning a Tale
It’s too bad, because all of this is supported by a fairly interesting story that paints one of Spider-Man’s most legendary villains, Kraven, as a possible mentor and father figure to Spider-Man. Given that it’s Kraven, it not hard to see where the story eventually goes, but it’s still an interesting angle that kept me invested far longer than I should have been given everything else wrong with the game.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is functional with an interesting story, but it really falters thanks to the annoying as hell “hero vs. menace” mechanic and shallow attempts at aping more successful superhero video games. I could only possibly recommend this if you are an extremely hardcore Spider-Man fan and find it in a bargain bin for $10 or less somewhere down the line. Pretty much any mediocre superhero game in the last several years would be a better option (i.e. I had way more fun with Deadpool, and that wasn’t very good).