Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man (Review)

With every comic book movie release there comes the necessary game tie-in. For this new Spider-Man game Activision relies once more on Beenox, the developer studio behind ‘Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions ‘and ‘Spider-Man: Edge of Time’. The game’s story is not the usual re-telling of the movie’s events but rather a continuation of the movie, picking off after the movie has ended. Even though there aren’t that many spoilers, it’s better to play the game after watching the movie since a few key plot points are (unavoidably) revealed.

None of the movie cast members lends their voice to the game; nevertheless the actors that take over do a decent enough job to make the game enjoyable. It is not easy to describe the plot of the Amazing Spider-Man without spoiling the movie. As mentioned above, the game continues the movie’s plot - even though it was released earlier - focusing specifically on a certain virus which is accidentally released, endangering the citizens of New York. The plot is nothing extraordinary, quite a few clichรฉs are used and even though Spidey is his usual witty self, the story remains just average and not interesting enough to intrigue the player or add much to the movie’s lore.

One of the best things about this new Spider-Man game is the ability to move around Manhattan using Spidey’s webs in order to move from one building to another. The overall web-slinging feeling is pretty well executed which makes moving around the city quite enjoyable for the player. A useful ability that Spider-Man has is the Web Rush, which basically slows up time, allowing the player to make certain decisions like landing on a specific area or attacking an enemy with stealth, with more ease. The Web Rush ability certainly comes in handy both when moving around and also in tricky combat situations.

The basic structure of the game consists of the usual main quests which, upon completion, progress the story, and a certain amount of side-quests which the player can chose to do or to completely ignore. Unfortunately this is an area in which the game lacks quite a bit. The side-quests add next to nothing to the plot, and they get boring very soon. Sadly, the player will have to repeat the exact same actions every single time, which in the end feels quite cheap. Furthermore, the main quests of the game, although they are not at the same level with the side-quests, they are not much of an improvement.

The more one experiences the gameplay of the Amazing Spider-Man the clearer it becomes that the developers drew great inspiration from the recent Batman games developed by Rocksteady, specifically ‘Batman: Arkham City’. This of course is not a bad thing, especially since the open-world design suits a Spider-Man game quite well. On the downside though, Beenox was not very successful when it comes to the game’s combat system. Spidey’s movements might feel quite natural and fluid when he’s outside, but unfortunately things are not that good when the player has to enter a closed area as moving around becomes a bit more difficult at certain points. Spidey can directly confront an enemy or hide and stealthily attack them. Where the fight system lacks is the range of animations; as there is only a handful of combat movements designed, the player eventually ends up seeing the same actions executed again and again when taking out an enemy.

The way the game’s stealth system is designed makes it too forgiving in order to be any challenging. The fact that even if Spider-Man is discovered he can retreat without any fuss or consequence makes things just too easy. Nevertheless, stealth attacks are still fun to execute even if they are not too complex. On the up side, the game’s boss fights are clearly more interesting and polished. Still, no special strategy is needed to defeat most of the game’s bosses but at least the developers paid more attention to detail when designing the fights. We also get to see a few characters from the comic books that did not appear in the movie, including Felicia Hardy A.K.A. the Black Cat, which is a plus for fans of the comics.

Visually the game looks good enough, although it is not anything extraordinary. Beenox has done a decent job designing the game’s environments. Unfortunately most of the inside areas of the game lack in detail and they seem quite unrefined and dated, especially for a game released in 2012. When it comes to the outside areas though, things are significantly better. The developers have managed to give the city quite the detail in design and at the same time maintain a good draw distance, making the experience of moving around quite enjoyable and realistic. Spider-Man’s model reeks of detail and his animations – though few – are executed quite well, which is definitely another plus for the game. Sadly though, not the same attention was paid when designing the rest of the character models.

The game has undoubtedly got its flaws. The story is moderate at best, the characters are not that interesting and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the developers were rushed to release the game before it was fully completed. Though the majority of the game’s environments appear a bit plain, the outside areas are pretty well designed. Basing the game’s structure on the recent Batman games of Rocksteady was not a bad decision as the model suits superhero games quite well. Unfortunately the implementation was not very successful. Nevertheless, even if the game lacks in both plot and visual detail, it has enjoyable gameplay and provides somewhat of a continuation of the movie’s storyline. Fans of the Spider-Man franchise or of the genre will probably enjoy the Amazing Spider-Man when its price drops.

Overall: 70/100

Originally written for New Game Network

The Amazing Spider-Man (Review)
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