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The Amazing Spider-Man – Review
Spider-Man is a hero with a long and inconsistent history in the realm of video games and along the way he has changed hands a number of times. With each change in developer came a different interpretation of gameplay. They have ranged from free roaming to linear, time traveling to dimension jumping, and even one where you played as the games antagonist and long-time arch-nemesis Venom. But of all of those different genres there is one that is by far the way a Spider-Man game should be made: Free Roaming.
Developed by Beenox, a Canadian, Activision subsidiary, Amazing Spider-Man is the company’s third title in the hero’s universe, and their first open world project. The companies first two Spider-Man titles, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time (in that order) were little more than average attempts at tackling one of America’s more renowned heroes. But have no fear; Amazing Spider-Man (intentionally named after the movie) is a triumph in the developing genre of open world super hero video games.
Taking place just months after the story told in the movie, Amazing Spider-Man begins with Gwen Stacy escorting Peter Parker through the halls of Oscorp after business hours. Immediately recognizable is the similarities between Spider-Man and the Arkham games when it comes to narrative.
But let’s get down to what everyone is waiting to hear. Is Spider-Man’s open world successfully realized? Yes. A hundred times over, yes. There is nothing (and I mean nothing) quite like standing atop the tallest building in Manhattan and then allowing Web Head to tip over the edge, sending him plummeting towards the concrete below him. Traversing expansive and beautiful Manhattan is a blast and Beenox did a remarkable job capturing the essence with uncanny realism. The street blurs under your feet as you gather momentum and citizens below you lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Spider-Man zipping past will call out to you.
This experience however, would be all for naught if the controls were shoddy. Swinging around is an absolute breeze and the genius Web-Rush mechanic, which allows you to slow time, gives you the ability to take in his surroundings and move to specifically marked places in a mere instant. This mechanic, when mastered, can make combat cruelly lopsided for the human spider, and undoubtedly adds an element that no other Spider-Man title has before.
But while traveling through the city is remarkable, it isn’t the only thing that sets this game aside from the other attempts. The perfect complement to such an expansive city is an abundance of miscellaneous objectives to complete and Amazing Spider-Man is chock-full of mini/side-quests. It is genuinely difficult to travel from Parker’s apartment to your objective without stopping to aid the accosted citizen or stray from your path chasing one of the seven hundred comic pages scattered throughout the city. Manhattan acts like it should: hectic, distracting, and frankly, a little obsessive.
When it comes to combat it seems that Beenox borrowed another mechanic from the Arkham series. Combat is fast-paced and simple, and the use of Web-Rush (as I stated earlier) makes the possibilities nearly endless. Players will quickly learn their best method of dispatching thugs and will begin to adapt and experiment with their tactics, a freedom that few games can claim to have. Spidey’s signature, parkour-style of fighting adds an air of acrobatics to the fighting that is also a treat to watch.
The best aspect of the combat in Spider-Man comes from his boss fights. These struggles, which are well paced throughout the story, let the player see the full potential Spider-Man as a superhero/superhuman. Blending your ability to swing through city streets while targeting key points and dodging an almost “bullet hell” level of incoming fire makes for an explosive experience and a grandiose take on the “boss battle”. Spidey’s elegant and proficient ability to dispatch giant robotic foes makes you wonder why he wasn’t in the Avengers movie.
Amazing Spider-Man has a very well thought out and entertaining tale, complete with a few good twists; defining the Rogue’s Gallery in one inclusive story arc and possibly setting up future and unrevealed villains to come. Spidey’s story is short, smart and very well acted; which is commendable considering they didn’t use the movies stars. And yes, Nolan North AND Steve Blum are present as two of the games most prevalent roles.
My experience throughout was exhilarating and I never wanted to put the controler down. Beenox hit the nail on the head this time, delivering a sound, quality homage to the webslinger. With the era of open world super hero games on the rise Amazing Spider-Man will no doubt prove to be a reference point for titles to come.