And lo, with yet another film of the legendary webslinger, we get another tie-in game. A lot of times, Spidey games, even if they’re flawed, are still fun. Does this one hold up?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the latest from Activision and Beenox, and does something rather different for a movie tie-in game. Rather than follow a more action-oriented version of the film’s plot, it instead acts as a sequel to the last game, which was an epilogue to the first film, and has its own story as opposed to the film it’s based on. While there are elements from the movie (Electro’s appearance and obsession with Spidey, Harry’s search for a cure to his disease and his transformation into the Green Goblin), the game follows a different plot altogether. After reliving the night Peter loses his Uncle Ben, the opening levels focus on the hunt for the killer. Just when Spidey finally catches up to him, the killer is murdered. He’s the latest in a string of deaths whose victims are all killers for the various gangs and mobs. The killer, known as the Carnage Killer (yes, him), has thrown the criminals into a fearful and paranoid fit, with a massive gang war threatening to break out. OsCorp, with the aid of Wilson Fisk (yes, him too), has started funding an armed city-wide Task Force, whose big mandate includes taking out Spider-Man. Now, with the help of the mysterious Kraven the Hunter, Spidey has to get to the bottom of the gang war, find the Carnage Killer, and stop whoever is trying to benefit from it all. Along the way, Peter must find an answer to the question: is killing okay if the targets are killers themselves?
The plot is actually pretty decent, and has some rather interesting twists, all filled in by audio logs you can find throughout the game. Speaking of the game, it plays like a more finely-tuned version of the previous entry. Web-swinging is now mapped to the two shoulder triggers, the right one shoots a line with the right hand, the left one shoots from the left. It takes a little getting used to, but by the time I was finishing the game’s main story campaign, I was using it to make sharp turns and get across Manhattan in record time. The Web Rush has returned, and works like last time. Press it once, and Spidey will quickly navigate to wherever you’re aimed at, hold it and you slow time down for a first-person view, allowing you to see more options for where to rush to. The only change they added now is that you hold the direction stick, once you reach your destination Spidey will bounce off it to keep moving. In the story levels, or any indoor environment, the swinging becomes more controlled, with the ability to hold the buttons down to keep swinging. This allows for more fine-controlled movement in the enclosed environment.
Combat is still like a simpler version of the Arkham games, but it’s less button mashing now, with a few new tricks like being able to yank weapons and web them down, and new augments to your webs that you get from the bosses. In fact, in one of the best in-game reasons for the various costumes you can wear is that Peter is getting OsCorp tech and modifying them into new suits. The suits all have different stat boosts that level up as you play, giving you a way to play to your strengths, whether you’re a charge-in brawler or more stealthy. This costumes are waiting at Aunt May’s house, along with the ability to replay the story levels. If you want to check other unlockables, head over to Stan Lee’s comic book store, where you can read the comics you unlock as you gather pages around town, statues of the characters you’ve met, and play an arcade cabinet that allows you to try the game’s combat challenges. And that’s not including all the photos you can take, races you can take part in, and all that.
Graphics-wise, this is pretty good, with lots of bright comic book colors, and the voice-acting is decent, even if it lacks any of the movie’s cast. However, there is one point where the game gets frustrating.
This game has a system where the more good you do by taking side-missions (petty crimes, hostage situations, evacuation from burning buildings etc), the more the people see you as a Hero, and if you don’t take part, your heroism will drop and you’ll be seen as a Menace, with the Task Force gunning for you. Now, initially, I assumed that it meant that if I tried a side-mission and failed, that would be that. But no, if you let any of the crimes expire, your Hero meter will drop. In other words, you have no choice but to do as many side-missions as possible between story missions to keep the Task Force off your back. While I get why they did this, making you feel the responsibility of Spider-Man, the fact is it makes what should be an organic part of playing a superhero game a lot of busy-work. And if you succeed, you always have to hear a Daily Bugle news report about how great you are by Peter’s report friend Whitney Chang, and failure will get you a rant by J. Jonah Jameson. This was initially cool, but got old really really fast.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fun superhero game, and while not as great as it could be, it is still a massive improvement on previous entries game-mechanics, making it one of the most fun Spidey games yet.
– Fun gameplay, from swinging to combat
– Good story
– Lots of additional things to do
– Hero or Menace system can be very annoying