Game – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Developer – Beenox
Publisher – Activision
Platform – WiiU (MSRP $49.99)
Rating – T for Teen
Obtained – Review copy courtesy of Activision
I’ve been a fan of Spider-Man games since Spider-Man 2 on the Gamecube. The ability to swing at breakneck speed through the city of Manhanttan was and still is a thrilling ride that I just can’t get enough of. Seriously, I don’t even need to stick to the missions. I can roam around the city for way too long, just enjoying the ride as scenery blurs by. When I got the chance to review the first Amazing Spider-Man game from Beenox last year, I leapt at the chance and for the most part I was quite happy with the adventure. Read my review in full here – Amazing Spider-Man Ultimate Edition Review. Beenox is back with their second go at a Spider-Man game, and while I was excited to play as the web-head once more, I ended the game feeling as though so much more could have been accomplished.
Beenox has created a game that is almost entirely separate from the movie, so don’t expect much, if any similarities between them. It’s this creative license that allowed Beenox to create a Spider-Man game filled with iconic characters and to follow their own storyline.
You’ll start off the game still looking for Uncle Ben’s killer, Carridine, and after two years (about as long as these load times!) you’ve finally found him. Not too long into the game though, Carridine is dispatched and the local thugs are on high alert because of a mass murderer known only as “The Carnage Killer” who’s been going around killing thugs around the city. Between the Carnage Killer and rival gangs, the thugs aren’t taking any chances, and they’ve broken into OsCorp Tower to steal technology and weaponry to defend themselves. It’s this course of action that propels Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) and Harry Osborn to join forces and create a private Task Force to patrol the streets of Manhatten. The Task Force is supposed to help keep the streets clear of criminals and protect the citizens. Of course, with Kingpin involved, you know it’s not all on the up and up – corruption, violence, murder, chaos and all that good stuff ensues. While this formula can be exactly what is needed to pull off an amazing game, Beenox ultimately delivered a game with chapters tied together very loosely and no real sense of forward momentum. Which leads me to the story itself. Over the course of 14 chapters, you’ll find yourself following a simple plot that never feels quite polished and ultimately comes across as disconnected. The first half of the missions were uninteresting and bland, so much so that I can hardly recall them. And then the second half of missions lead you to face off against some major villians, but it all feel rushed, as though the villains were shoe-horned in. What I mean by this is that when one chapter (mission) ends and the next one begins, there is not a strong piece of narrative or cut-scene which bonds you to the upcoming chapter. For instance, in one chapter Max Dillon (Electro) is “helping” you in OsCorp Towers. Then, almost inexplicably, he reappears several chapters later as Electro hell bent on revenge against you and everyone else who did experiments on him at the insanse asylum. Huh? When did he get carted off to the asylum? Why? Did I miss something in the cut scenes? Perhaps I did, it’s possible with 3 kids and a short attention span. This is but one of many examples of the lack of cohesivness in this game.
With the introduction of the Task Force comes this new hero/menace meter which gauges how the Task Force and public view Spider-Man. The meter will either rise into “Hero” or plunge into “Menace”, all dependent upon you completing, failing, or downright ignoring optional side missions. Some of these missions include rescuing people from burning buildings, stopping car jackers or taking photos as Peter Parker. The problem with the meter is that it depends on side missions which can’t all be reached in the time given. Whatever missions you fail or ignore cause you to fall further into”Menace” territory. This in turn will cause the Task Force to assualt you on the ground and in the air. The whole thing just feels completely unnecessary, especially when you can ignore it for the most part, and ultimately I found it to be nothing more than a nuisance. The hero/menace meter is a slight pain in the red rump if you know what I’m saying. Yeah, yeah I know…I’m a menace for saying that. Oh these puns are quite painful.
As for the combat, it borrows from the likes of the Batman Arkham franchise, in that you string together a combo of attacks and dodges. While this may sound good on paper, I should know because I’ve played Batman Arhkam City and thoroughly enjoyed the combat, it all feels terribly uninspired. Now don’t get me wrong, the combat is quite solid technically speaking, and you can even upgrade your abilities and collect different suits across the city to become stronger. It’s important to note that whatever leveling up is done is connected to the suit being worn and not the player. Overall it was repetitive and never quite satisfying. Every fight involved me hurrying up and defeating the thugs so I could move on. Perhaps this is in part because of the lack of larger-than-life enemies. Unlike the original Amazing Spider-Man game, there are no grand scale boss fights or enemies. Sure, you get to fight the likes of Black Cat, Kingpin, Carnage and more, but even those fights are completely underwhelming and unimpressive. For example, the fight against Blackcat is nothing more than her having extreme speed and you having to dodge her attack and counter-attack. The boss fight with Kingpin was nothing more than you having to lure him into charging you and then dodging the attack. Once you succesfully dodge his attack, he gets stuck in the wall and you land some hits. Sure, he throws in some Task Force guys to up the challenge but it doesn’t do much but lengthen the battle. There was nothing impressive about these two battles and the rest of the battles were just as uninspired and bland. At least you can enable spider-sense, which basically gives you heat map of all the baddies and unlockables in a location. That’s actually cool in combat. As a fan of Spider-Man and the previous Beenox game, I really expected much more, especially from the boss fights.
The visuals overall are above average. The city itself is varied in terms of layout, but the buildings could have used more detail. The skyline of New York is a pleasure to see as always. As for ground based travel and combat, I noticed that the traffic, both car and foot, was sparse. The character models are designed quite well, especially the detail put into the suits you’ll wear. Spider-Man looks great, as does Black-Cat, Kraven, and Carnage. Kingpin looks incredibly real, especially the details on his face. That is one ugly looking villian. The one exception to this is the Peter Parker, who is nowhere near close to resembling Andrew Garfield and honestly, it just looks odd. He has almost no facial animations and he looks way too bulky with his street clothes. The cut-scenes did well, but one in particular between Harry and Peter was lower quality than others. As for the rest of the cut-scenes, I was pleased, but not impressed by them.
Controlling Spider-Man is a mixed bag. See, Beenox decided to change up the swinging mechanic this time around to make it more realistic. That’s right, no more swinging in mid-air. So you can only swing by your webs if you are close enough to a physical structure and can attach to it. Additionally, swinging is now done by both trigger buttons this time. So in order to swing effectively, you’ll need to alternate between the left and right trigger buttons. It is not perfect, but it’s easy to pick up. Thankfully the Web Rush mechanic is back. Web Rush works by slowing down time and highlighting areas that you are able to easily zip to, making travel a quick and fun experience. I noticed on occasion that while executing Web Rush moves I would get stuck on a building and have to jump off and try again. Traveling by foot is another story altogether. It’s like Spidey has two left feet and his movements are jittery and rough. Plus, you’ll run into instances where you’ll find yourself running up or into walls when all you want do is walk/run. Overall though, travel is a postive, so long as you stick to swinging or using Web Rush. In the few parts where you play as Peter Parker, movement controls with no issues and always at a moderate pace.
As for additional content, you are able to head down to the Comic Stand owned by none other than Stan Lee and look at figurines you’ve unlocked, read comics, or practice your combat in the arcade machine. It’s just a shame they didn’t include other modes like Rhino Assault from the first game.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a brief game with some iconic characters and fun web swinging. Unfortunately, between the bland combat, uninteresting, disjointed story line, and less than stellar boss fights I was not amazed nor that entertained.
Final Score: 5.5 out of 10
– Controlling Spidey on ground is finicky
– Repetitive combat
– Swinging mechanic
– Load times