You are Spider-Man, local hero of Manhattan and web slinging nuisance to the thugs that engulf his city. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game serves as more of a prequel to the film of the same name for the most part, which then diverts sharply into an alternative timeline. Frankly, I couldn’t decipher if the reason for this choice was to save spoilers from the coinciding film or just a reason to cram as many of Spider-Man’s rogues into the game.
After a brief flashback which ignites the beginning of the story, Spider-Man is left to uncover the mysterious murders that are only referred to by police as “The Carnage Killings”. During the game’s duration, many characters inject themselves throughout the course of the story, offering no real depth but what feels like a filler or even unnecessary deterrents to extend the length of gameplay out.
Having the opportunity to review this game on the older generation of consoles, I went in feeling at a slight disadvantage in terms of experiencing the best presentation I could. Realistically though I think it didn’t matter in the slightest, as current and new gen are that close together in terms of graphical fidelity there is a difference measured by the skin of your teeth. In terms of game development this game felt like it could have snugly fit rubbing shoulders with games released early in the last generation. Character models were bulky, unrefined and during cutscenes moved worse than robots from 80s movies.
It just feels like fuel to the fire that the videogame/movie tie-in combination is horrendous. This is supposed to be a movie tie-in videogame but it doesn’t even utilise the cast of the film, the only original cast member who reprises his role is the master of cameos, Stan Lee. Other major characters barely resemble their on-screen counterparts, a huge departure for a supposed “tie-in”. The cast for the game did little to offer any form of engagement, leaving me feeling like they were just simply reading the scripts rather than feeling them and truly portraying their characters.
Spider-Man tries to be funny delivering his trademark smart ass comments and cheap shots to the bad guys. Typically I would love these sorts of antics, being the person I am. Unfortunately, these comments completely miss the mark of humorous and become painfully repetitive pretty quick.
At various points also, Spider-Man will be presented with an interactive conversation where a button press opens a conversation path revealing more information that is usually irrelevant to anything. Spider-Man is exceptionally agile; I understand that, the world understands that. I don’t see why it is necessary for Spider-Man during these conversations to be excessively moving or jumping around, or even creeping up on captured foes, during the conversations. The latter example is flirting dangerously close to disturbing.
The big open world that is Manhattan is unlocked to you from the get go. Traversing Manhattan is one of the best features available to the player, and although it may take you a little while to finely tune the perfect rhythm for web swinging and navigating the city it is certainly one of the more richer experiences to be taken from the game. Using the respective shoulder buttons to make either your left or right hand deploy a streamlined web is probably as close as anyone will get to being a real web slinging Spider-Man any time soon.
Combat is a vital aspect of the game in both stealth situations and normal combat. Beenox tries to use a system similar to Arkham’s “Free Flow” but makes a mockery of it rather than a flattering imitation. Building a sense of strategy and rhythm is what the developers aimed for in their concept and imitation but unfortunately it results in a bash the attack button with a few counters performed to save yourself.
Stealth portions of the game borrow from, again, what feels to be a gimmick of Arkham’s Predator encounters; stalking your adversaries (as you battle beyond confusing camera angles) biding your time for the right time to strike. Often I was in clear view of a patrolling goon (for longer than the required recognition time) as I subdued one of his allies for no punishment or even acknowledgement of my sloppy stealth tactics. The range in which stealth takedowns can be performed also felt very inconsistent: sometimes I could be meters away whilst the other times I had to be right on top just to perform the same basic takedown.
Dispatching goons and bosses as well as collecting special items throughout the game will earn Spider-Man experience points for boosting abilities and enhancing skills. Some examples of the skills are strengthening your web to entangle goons for longer or to swing quicker and more precisely as you navigate the vast open world. These upgrades aren’t really necessary or relevant to the gameplay, as I had long forgotten about them and didn’t purchase any upgrades until I was well into the later portions of the game and it was simply just to spend the experience rather than a necessary purchase.
Boss battles aren’t big or epic nor even really inventive or challenging. Generally you are just facing off against one super strong person as you mash attack and counter his moves. Rarely they might spawn a few lackeys to help them out only for Spider-Man to eliminate, though basically you are dodging a character specific move then attacking, which is nothing really memorable.
Finally, there is an abundance of side missions to complete which actively control your hero/menace meter. Being a hero or a menace determines if the Enhanced Crime Task Force (this team gets explained to you in-game) targets Spider-Man during this game. Whether you are being targeted or not isn’t an issue, usually it is a small one or two button quick-time event to continue. Over the course of my time with the game I became less concerned with the meter as the side missions that affect your stance are repetitive and offer little reward other than keeping the task force off your back.