The Amazing Spider-Man marks Beenox’s third take on Spider-Man for Activision, only this time it’s a movie tie-in game, which is set not long after the events of the recently released film of the same name. It’s also a return to the open world sandbox featured most prominently in the Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 movie tie-in games. Whereas the last couple games took out the open world for Spider-Man to swing in, Beenox brings it back with this game, so that players can swing across New York City just like Spider-Man does.
The story builds on that of the Amazing Spider-Man movie, and features various cross-species enemies that Spider-Man has to take on throughout the course of the game, such as the Iguana, Rhino, Scorpion, and of course the Lizard. There’s also a new head scientist at Oscorp, Alistair Smythe, and Spider-Man must contend with his various spider-slayers. The story was fairly straight-forward, and was well-structured and well-paced. The open-world allows for some side missions to complete, but unfortunately although there are plenty, they aren’t that varied, often being more than a little repetitive. Side missions include breaking into various Oscorp labs for some undercover sleuthing, doing some time trial challenges, stopping car chases, putting an end to police stand-offs with armed thugs, and taking pictures for an ally at the Daily Bugle. The Daily Bugle side missions are the most interesting, utilizing the camera feature, and feel very much like something Spider-Man would do. The crime-related side missions are fun, but they’re all essentially the same, down to the look of the cars that Spider-Man must chase and then stop. A little variation in how the missions were completed would have been welcome, because as cool as it looks, it’s repetitive just hitting the web button until the window is fully covered, interspersed with pressing the evade button when a thug tries to shoot at you.
Whereas Beenox’s first two Spider-Man games were quite similar at heart, this new game is a departure from what worked before, as they try to make the gameplay experience more unique and different from past efforts. On this front, they largely succeeded, as they introduced a new “web-rush” mechanic that players can utilize to slow-down time, and either initiate a web-strike against an enemy, or quickly web-swing to a nearby target. It’s a nice evolution of the web-zip option that prior games had, with a cool spin that allows players more time to react and strategize when taking on assorted enemies. The introduction of a web-retreat function is also extremely useful, when the player might be overwhelmed by the enemies on the screen. There’s definitely more strategy involved in the fight sequences here, as Beenox has taken a page out of Batman: Arkham City’s playbook and made stealth tactics just as important as straight-up melee combat. Although the combat is smoother, it’s almost a bit too simple, as there’s less intricate combos, and more combos being generated by successful hits punctuated by successfully dodging an opponent’s attack before following it up with another hit. It’s similar to how Batman’s combo system operated in the Arkham games, but without the complexity of different types of buttons and strikes to hit.
The biggest draw here is the web-slinging, and I have to say that Beenox does not disappoint in this area. Swinging around New York City looks and feels great, with very intuitive controls. The web-rush threw me at first, but with time I came to really enjoy the mechanic, especially when using it to grab collectibles. Not only does the swinging look good, but the detail put into this version of New York City is fantastic. New York City really comes alive in this game, and adds to the overall experience of swinging through the air and jumping off buildings.
There’s a ton of collectibles in this game to help extend the gameplay experience, including collecting comic book pages strewn about the city. There’s 700 of these pages to collect, but what makes collecting these pages different than your standard collectible is that you actually unlock comic books that you can read in the game. The issues included feature Spider-Man’s origin, Rhino’s first appearance, Lizard’s first appearance, Iguana’s first appearance, Alistair Smythe’s first appearance, Gwen Stacy’s first appearance, and a couple more. As you unlock more of these pages, you unlock more issues to read. I’m surprised that this idea hasn’t been used before, as I’d much rather read a comic book than just look at some standard concept art like in most games. The game features some fun alternate costumes for Spider-Man to wear, but they’re much harder to find and unlock than in Beenox’s prior Spider-Man games. Each week since the initial release of the game, more spider-emblems can be found within the game, and once the player takes a picture of the emblem, they unlock a corresponding costume. They aren’t that easy to find, however, but thankfully the internet is full of guides that can assist players in unlocking these costumes. My personal favourite was the modern-day Scarlet Spider costume from the current comic book starring Spider-Man’s clone, Kaine.
Overall this is a very enjoyable outing from Beenox, as they go in a new direction compared to their last couple of Spider-Man games. Despite the controls at times being a tad too simplistic, I did prefer it that way as opposed to an over-complicated control system that would have made playing a chore, instead of the pleasure it is. Considering that this game is a movie tie-in, officially, it’s one of the best movie tie-ins I’ve played, as it builds organically upon the world that was established in the movie. The game is fun and enjoyable, and with the open world there’s hours of playtime to be found here outside of the main storyline.