Another year comes with another batch of blockbuster movie video game tie-ins. These titles are often cash grabs that aim to take advantage of their fans by pushing out an unimaginative and aggressively average game. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is definitely one of those, but the core mechanics and a fun web slinging open world experience leads to this game being worth a little more of your time than you would expect.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 creates a unique story which forces Spider-Man to take on a multitude of villains from the comic book series. From Electro and Black Cat to Kingpin and the Green Goblin, there are numerous bosses that each play out differently. Their distinctive powers keeps each boss fight from becoming repetitive and boring.
The general structure of the game is simple. You go to a place, fight thugs, collect an item/turn off a switch and then fight a boss. The missions are often uninspiring and the repetitive format keeps each mission from feeling enjoyable and fresh. Thankfully, the missions are saved by the combat mechanics and the steady progression of Spider-Man’s powers, which give you a reason to keep fighting the endless amount of thugs.
The combat in the game is heavily influenced by that of Arkham’s, the enemies flash red when they are about to attack indicating that you have to dodge. The fighting is also quick and incredibly easy, even on higher difficulty levels. The only difficulty arises when the enemies have guns as this means that you have to fight each group of thugs while dodging the gunfire at the same time. I wish the combat was not so derivate of the Batman series. However, I think they are taking tips from the best and although they have not perfected the counter combat of the Arkham games, it is a working representation of that style and it is good enough for a game like this.
When things get hectic the use of Spider-Man’s power upgrades can come in handy. Over the course of the game, you earn experience points which can be used to upgrade aspects of Spider-Man’s powers. For instance, you can use your Spider sense to see enemies from further away or charge your ‘seismic blast’ ability which is an area effect attack. These upgrades enable you to take on more and more enemies at a faster rate and the new and upgraded abilities are dealt at a pace which is rewarding and makes you want to play more to upgrade all of your powers.
Although the story is entertaining throughout, a big weakness of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rests in the side missions. Although there is quite a lot of mission variety, the side missions are mostly boring and unnecessary. The most exciting of these missions range from saving civilians from a burning building to throwing a ticking bomb into the river. However, the excitement wears off when you have to repeat these missions multiple times. They get boring very quickly and I ended up lamenting having to do any more.
Luckily the open world of the game is not completely wasted in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 thanks in part to the web slinging. This time around, Spider-Man’s webs actually have to attach to buildings. This makes the swinging more enjoyable and challenging as it is more realistic.
Left trigger controls your left web and right trigger controls your right. This means that you actually have to think about which hand you would like to swing from based upon where the tall buildings are and which direction you would like to go. Honestly, the web swinging might be the best part of the game and brings back a lot of nostalgia for Spider-Man 2 on the PS2 where I would spend countless hours just swinging around doing no missions at all.
The graphics in this game are exactly what you would expect from a movie tie-in. I played this on the Xbox 360 and the graphics are simple but acceptable. The game does not look bad in any respect but it is definitely not going to be winning any awards at the end of the year. I have heard that the graphics on the PS4 and Xbox One versions are almost identical to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions as well.
The game takes a respectable eight hours to complete, which is the right amount to stop the game from becoming too repetitive. After the game has finished, Manhattan is still open for you to find the 300 comic book collectibles scattered around the city and to finish any side quests you have missed. Although I must admit, I’m not entirely sure why you would want to do that aside from getting all of the achievements and trophies in the game.
Overall the game has fun web swinging, with an interesting story and a decent combat system. The story kept me entertained for it’s decent eight hour length. If you are a Spider-Man fan then there is more than enough here to keep you entertained. However the repetitive side missions, lackluster mission structure and very easy combat stops this game from becoming more than it is, a slightly above average movie tie-in.
This review is based on a retail copy of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the Xbox 360 which was paid for out-of-pocket.