Out of Marvel’s wide array of superheroes, not many have been showcased so heavily in video games. There are plenty of films, both live action and animated, that feature numerous iconic heroes. Video games, however, are rather limited. One hero has been seen an abundance of times on film and in video games alike – Spider-Man. Featured in five films and more than a dozen video games, the web head has become a symbol of sorts for Marvel, Avengers aside. With great power comes great responsibility, and with a new Spidey movie comes a new Spidey game.
The original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy all came with licensed games, as well as the reigning Spider-Man game in Spider-Man 2. With the original Marc Webb reboot, fans were treated to the first open world Spider-Man game in some years, developed by Beenox – a popular name in the Spider-Man video game world. The game delivered in many ways, providing players with a living city that featured much to do. While the game lacked a bit in narrative and in the rogues department, the combat and mechanics more than made up for it. Two years later and not only were fans treated to a sequel to the film, but to the video game as well. This go around, however, isn’t so pleasant.
Unlike the first game, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 follows along the events of the film, albeit with altered sets of events. However, unlike the film, the game lacks much of the emotional impact. Looking for any type of heartfelt moments with Gwen Stacey, stick to the movie. The story starts with Peter continuing on his search for vengeance, still on the hunt for Uncle Ben’s killer. What sounds like a great idea for a story is eventually cut short by a rather disappointing cop out closing said arc. What makes this even more disappointing is knowing how strong a story the new set of films are showcasing, only continuing to grow stronger.
The game is also packed with a wide gallery of iconic Spidey villains, unlike the first game. Learning the new origins of Shocker, Carnage and Kingpin proves to be rather interesting and is sure to please any fan of the web head. The main villains of the film – Electro and Green Goblin – are thrown into the mix, however, in such a weak manner. Showing how the character went from Max Dillon to the anger-fueled Electro was a strong piece of the film. That whole moment is rushed in the game, leaving players to learn his origins through collectible audio logs. It seems as though these characters were thrown into the game merely because they were in the film and would appeal to that audience. It’s a shame the same love that went into crafting the characters on screen wasn’t utilized in the game. Also, while it is admittedly great to see these characters appear in this universe, the actual boss fights are rather disappointing. The most intriguing fight is easily Kingpin, which actually requires a bit of patience and thought. Carnage, a fan favorite to many, was easily the most disappointing.
Having purchased the game for the PlayStation 4, I made sure not to expect much from what was already confirmed a mere port. However, I expected a bit more than what I got aesthetically. The game is truly a terrible representation of the power of these next gen systems. The world is bare, lifeless and small in scale. Character models are rather horrendous, with the only passable model being Spider-Man himself. Even Peter Parker looks bad outside of the suit. Environments are so lacking in detail, with city buildings appearing flat and far from huge in scope.
This would essentially become the part where deep gameplay mechanics would pick the game up from it’s apparent slump. It is upsetting to say that the gameplay is so shallow and barebones that it’s almost hard to even have fun with. In the beginning, the fast paced and awesome looking combat may be enjoyable, but after repeating the same “combos” over and over, without any true strategic elements in the fights against recycled enemies. The fun stealth sequences seen in the first game hardly appear in the sequel, save for a few side quests that is completely focused on it (See next paragraph). The game essentially plays like a cheap knock off of the acclaimed Arkham titles without any true depth. The one saving factor is the seining mechanics, which have now been fixed to give a more realistic feel. The right trigger button acts as Spidey’s right hand and the left represents the other. Alternating between the two allows Spidey to swing, only this time, on buildings and not thin air.
Just when things could not get any more disappointing, the one aspect of every Spider-Man game returns in the most absurd of ways. Side missions jam pack the city at any given moment in the game, and it’s up to players to ensure Spidey can reach them. The issue is, missions appear and disappear all the time. Miss one, and the player becomes a menace, ensuring that swinging through the city becomes the most annoying hassle. The task force makes Spidey’s life even more of a living hell as a menace, blocking his path and sending all kinds of drones after him. This would not be that big of an issue if the side missions weren’t so incredibly repetitive and were rewarding. The only side missions worth checking out are the aforementioned stealth missions which rewards players with awesome costumes that appear from all over the Spider-Man universe.
Not much stands out in Beenox’s recent swing at the Spider-Man license. No clear attempts were made to widen the scope of the franchise, and instead, the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach was taken. The only issue is some of these were broken, and whatever was added just was not good. The Hero or Menace system is frustrating and broken, the combat is extremely bare and the visuals are unacceptable for last gen and current gen. Despite that, there is fun to be had if players can look past the many shortcomings. Fans will especially the fan service in the admittedly great rogues gallery in the game. Plus, swinging through the city has never been better.
- Swinging through the city is at its best here
- Plenty of awesome collectibles
- Stealth missions are great
- Awesome rogues gallery…
- …With crappy boss fights
- Story falls incredibly flat
- Visuals are outright ugly
- Combat is barebones, shallow and simply not fun
- Side missions are extremely repetitive
- Hero or Menace system is ridiculously frustrating