STAFF REVIEW of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Xbox One)

Monday, May 5, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Box art You know it’s the blockbuster movie season when the accompanying game also gets a release alongside. The fact of the matter is that nine times out of ten, the movie tie-in game simply isn’t that good, due to being rushed or having nothing to do with the movie itself. There are exceptions to this rule, as a few movie based games have been quite good; I just wish I could say the same for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

For a game that’s supposedly supposed to be based on the newest movie release (which I did enjoy and recommend), almost everything in the game has nothing to do with the movie’s plot aside from a few key parts. Don’t expect any of the characters or voices to sound like their counterpart from the movie, actually, don’t even expect to see Gwen Stacy at all or very much of Electro. I was expecting a slightly different take on the movie’s events, but you get something completely different in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it was able to stand on its own legs and not fall flat like a squished spider.

Since The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s plot is nothing like the movie storyline, you instead get a plot that in the beginning starts off decently and quite interesting, but then degrades into a mess with very thin web-lines attaching each plot point to the next. The game begins with the death of Uncle Ben, clearly Peter Parker’s defining moment, and Spider-Man is on the hunt for his killer. As it turns out, Cletus Kasady, dubbed the Carnage Killer, is a serial killer on the loose, and Spider-Man is trying to stop him. If this was the overlaying story arc, I would have been interested throughout the 7-10 hour playthrough, but as it turns out, the story starts to bounce around all over the place. It’s as if the developers wanted to cram in as many of the bigger villains they could in the game without a main plot line to explain why. One minute you’re hunting the Carnage Killer, then meeting Kingpin, then Black Cat, and wrapping it up with Carnage again. While I enjoyed seeing all these (and more) supervillans, there was absolutely no plot reason for them to all be there, nor any explanation to tie it all together.

Beenox decided to include certain dialogue sequences where Peter Parker, or Spider-Man, gets to choose from multiple options of what to ask or say, but the problem here is that there’s absolutely no consequences for any of your choices, so you can either ask each question or none and still have the same outcome. If the voice acting wasn’t as bad as it was, maybe it would be able to be taken a little more seriously, but alas, it’s something left to be desired.

If there’s one great thing that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has going for it though, is its web slinging traversal system. Getting Spidey around the city feels fluid and natural, though, that is once you get used to it. It did take me a few hours to really get the hang of it to be quick and fluid, but once you do, getting around is painless and looks awesome while doing so. Improved from previous games, your web lines are mapped to the Left and Right triggers, depending on which arm you want to swing with. The other part of the swinging formula is that you’ll actually have to have a building or something to swing from; gone are the days swinging from invisible clouds. Swinging also carries Spidey’s momentum, and the longer you hold onto your web before letting go, the higher arc you will have. When you become proficient as Spidey himself swinging around, you’ll quickly be swinging low to the ground, almost seemingly through traffic itself. Being able to jump off a skyscraper then swing forward just before you hit the ground feels great, as does taking corners with using the proper momentum and web arm.

A mechanic that came of quite a shock though was the inclusion of a Hero / Menace meter. This is how the game pressures you into doing its boring and repetitive side missions. As you do these side missions and save citizens, the meter will fill to the Hero side. Wait too long or ignore these side missions and it will dip towards the menace side. While an interesting idea in general, it’s not done very well and simply makes you want to ignore the missions as there’s never enough time to race to each side mission before another one fails. Become a “menace” and a special Task Force will keep an eye out for Spider-Man, making your life even harder. Apparently if you don’t save each person the city looks at you as a menace, so what’s the point of helping since there’s no real consequence? Even after you complete the game, this terrible system is still implemented.

And this is where we get to the side missions themselves. Many games use side missions to add extra content or side stories to enhance the game, whereas others like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 have them to add fluff and pad the time onto your playthrough. They try to distract you from the main story, but after you’ve done one of the different types of missions, they all get repeated with very small variants. You’ll have to beat up bad guys, stop carjackings, save civilians from fires, and more. None of which you’ll want to repeat over and over, which the game tries to get you to do.

In the beginning of the game I was attempting to complete every side mission, as I thought the Hero / Menace meter actually weighed into the game itself somehow. Once you realize it doesn’t, there’s really no reason to do them other than the accompanying achievements to be had. Doing them or not doesn’t’ change the story in any way and even with a full menace meter, you’re only slightly hindered on your way to the next story mission checkpoint. No matter how many mission you try and complete to be the hero, there will be two or three others failing at the same time, never making it easy to stay the hero. The fact that you’ll hear the same one-liners after every mission and have to watch the same news reports after each as well doesn’t help the fact that you’ll become very bored doing them repeatedly.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s clear that combat in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is trying to mimic that of Batman from the Arkham games. While this isn’t a bad thing, combat and enemies in Spidey’s game doesn’t have anywhere near the same depth, so it falls flat. For the majority of battles, you’ll simply spam the attack button, only needing to dodge once you see Spidey’s senses tingling above his head to avoid being hit. Later in the game there are enemies that will need a slightly different approach, such as stunning with a web blast, or shooting off enemy armor before attacking, but even these harder enemies are very few and far in between. Sadly, the same goes for boss battles, and none of them are very challenging aside from a larger health bar and spawning a few grunts to distract you mid battle.

If you’re able to sneak up on your opponents, either from behind or above, then you can perform a stealth takedown move in one shot. This is great when it works, but you aren’t given any meter or way to tell how close you need to be to each enemy until he glows the right purple color, making it complete guesswork. Couple in the fact there are a few sections in the game where you have to be stealthy and unseen, and some serious frustration starts to set in once you restart the same area for the tenth time.

As you beat up the bad guys, complete missions, find floating comic books, and more, you’ll earn experience for Spider-Man, based on what suit he’s wearing at the time. That’s right, you eventually get a wardrobe full of unique and classic Spider-Man suits from the comics over the years, though unfortunately to get them you need to do the aforementioned stealth missions. As you earn experience, certain aspects of whichever suit you’re wearing will become stronger. The problem with this system is that once you level a suit to its Max, there’s no incentive to switch to another unless you like its look or want to level it up for the challenge.

I can’t fault Beenox for trying to cash in on the popularity that the film is going to have, it’s just a shame that aside from the web swinging, there’s very little substance within that will keep you playing after you defeat the final (and disappointing) boss. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels like the same game that I played many years ago. You’ve essentially play this game before, and even on Xbox One, it doesn’t look even close to next-gen at all; it simply looks old.

Swinging around New York is very fun and satisfying, I just wish the rest of the game was of the same quality. Even if you’re a huge Spider-Man fan, this game is far from Amazing. If I was to rate this on the game’s Hero / Menace scale, let’s just say Spider-Man wouldn’t be viewed as the hero he so desperately tries to be.

Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10


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