Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Multi) Review

June is all a part of the summer movie blockbuster season, and with that comes various movie tie-in video games such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Does this game fall in the typical tradition of bad games based off a movie, or does it buck that trend?

What A Tangled Web Beenox Weaves!


Movie tie-in games are seldom of high quality. However, I did enjoy the original Amazing Spider-Man movie game, so I had a very open mind when coming into the game's sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, launching the same week as the movie of the same name. While the movie was a total disappointment, there's plenty to like (and dislike) about developer Beenox's attempt at producing a decent movie tie-in game.

Despite Beenox's best efforts to form a cohesive story with the original Amazing Spider-Man movie through creating a bit of an epilogue to the film with the first game, the events of the new film sequel destroy any hope of that. Thus, Beenox has essentially thrown its collective hands into the air and created a tale that isn't dependent on either source.

The initial story of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game has Peter Parker/Spider-Man on the hunt for his Uncle Ben's murderer. It eventually unfolds into a search for a serial killer who preys upon criminals in New York City, simply leaving a signature in the form of a bloody "C.K." on a nearby wall of each crime scene. This has resulted in the city being gripped with a sense of terror, and Wilson Fisk being allowed to form a militaristic police squad known as the Task Force to assist in protecting the denizens of the city.

While the story does have some predictable elements to it, I did find myself intrigued and wanting to keep playing to see how the elements of the story would actually unfold. Curiously, Gwen Stacy, who was a prominent figure in both the two films and the original movie game is totally absent from this sequel. In addition to that, movie villains the Green Goblin and Electro feel thrown into this game, as they have relatively minor roles in the game's story. Instead, Spidey's rogue's gallery is better represented with foes like the Kingpin, Kraven the Hunter, The Shocker, and Black Cat who take a larger focus in the game's story.

Spidey certainly gets into the swing of things!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 boasts an open sandbox setting of Manhattan much like the original movie game. Web-swinging around New York City has been tinkered with in comparison to the original Amazing Spider-Man and for the better. Instead of one button being used for web-swinging, the left and right shoulder buttons serve as Spidey's left and right web cartridges respectfully. Alternating between the two or using the correct hand to attach webbing to a nearby building is important because now you can't just attach webbing magically to the sky like you could in the first Amazing Spider-Man movie game. Spidey's webbing needs to attach to something, whether it be a building or a tree, in order to web-swing off of it. It's a nice change of pace, and it's good to see that Beenox took the criticism from the last game to heart with regards to web-swinging.

Where's a pair of Raybans when you need one?
However, web-swinging has somehow become worse than the previous game. It's true that simple swinging is easy enough, and the return of the Web Rush ability is most welcome, allowing you a first-person viewpoint where time slows to a crawl, granting you the capability of selecting a relatively nearby target to zip to. Outside of the Web Rush, though, any other type of precision webbing is an absolute mess. Trying to run up buildings, crawl on the side of a wall, or make careful jumps is futile due to the fact that movement is incredibly fidgety and the camera oftentimes spazzes out regularly.

Even a superhero needs to unwind sometime.
In the original Amazing Spider-Man, you had the option of taking on side missions, halting crime in its tracks, and helping civilians in between the game's story missions. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, these side missions become mandatory thanks to the new and unnecessary Hero and Menace gauge. As Spidey rescues civilians and puts the breaks to various crimes, the Hero/Menace gauge rises into the hero side of the gauge. If Spidey fails in saving the day or if the mission isn't started on time (which is all too common as it's generally impossible to be in four places at one time, particularly near the end of the game), then Spidey's gauge tips more to the side of being a menace.

Spider-Man gives this goon the old heave-ho.
Apparently, the citizens of Manhattan have an extremely short-term memory, Spidey isn't allowed to mind his own darn business, and the only person in the city who can stop crime is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Your Hero/Menace gauge falls into Menace territory all too easily, whether you're in a story mission or not. This means you're constantly forced to stop crimes around the city, or else feel the wrath of Wilson Fisk's Task Force, which makes getting around the city a pain in the spider butt, as you avoid attacking drones and Spider Slayer-like robots.

"Sir, I have probable cause that you
might be speeding with a hostage." 
Seeing as stopping the actual crimes gets monotonous quite quickly due to the fact that each is repetitive and the amount of crime types is low, this potentially novel idea simply becomes a hassle and a chore. You can only stop a breaking and entering crime, a standoff between goons and the police, and rescue a hostage from a speeding car so many times before it grows tedious. Perhaps if the gauge itself didn't quickly sink so fast into menace territory, this gameplay mechanic wouldn't be so troublesome.

This is Spidey's version of an ejector seat.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game contains various alternate things to do within the Manhattan island limits. For instance, you can take a visit to the Comic Stand to see Stan Lee, gaze at various unlockables, and participate in numerous combat challenges. There's also a dozen or so timed races to engage in, photo opportunities to indulge Spidey's shutterbug tendencies, and 300 comic book pages to acquire, strewn about the city. The inclusion of unlockable extra costumes that boost certain aspects of Spidey upon wearing them adds to the longevity of the game.

Behind what goes on in the city, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features various campaign missions that further advance the story of the game. Unlike the original movie game, there's a decreased focus on exploring separate areas in this game. Instead, story missions involve happenings around Manhattan much more.

This punch is for all heroes tired
of stereotypical henchman attire!
Combat is quite similar to what is seen in the Batman: Arkham games, albeit much more simplistic in execution. It's a matter of hitting the dodge button when your Spider Sense goes off to avoid the shots of a gun or counter a foe's offensive advances. In addition, Spidey can grab enemy weapons with a swipe of his webbing to disarm them or even drag an opponent towards him to let loose a flurry of attacks onto them.

The Shocker gets a shock to his system
with this shot from Spider-Man.
It's quite easy to drum up a high combo of punches and kicks to make short work of groups of thugs. Perhaps it's too easy to do so, as while there is a sense of achievement in taking down a slew of opponents, there's nowhere near the feeling of satisfaction as there is in the Arkham games.

Here's webbing in your eyes!
Unfortunately, while combat is adequate enough in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the game's presentation leaves much to be desired. For one, the load times are unbearable and inexcusable, the level of polish is greatly off, little things like voice clips and music cutting off, stopping, and ending abruptly occur, and the actual models outside of Spider-Man don't impress much at all. Manhattan itself is a pleasant enough place to look at, but pop-in related issues detract from the overall setting. The voice acting, like the previous game, does not feature any voice work from the stars in the movie. Instead, what is present is capable enough, although some of Spidey's one-liners will get grating quite quickly. In particular, the fight with Kingpin, where Spidey uses a plethora of "you're so fat..." jokes, is excruciating.

Some of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game
looks really good. Others? Not so much.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game could easily be considered a typical movie tie-in game. It features a menagerie of issues, a severe lack of polish, and questionable design choices that no doubt made the cut due to the necessity of rushing the game out for the movie's release. While the actual game isn't as much of a train wreck as the movie it is based off of, Spider-Man definitely deserves a better game to his name. However, Beenox seems to be feeling the burden of being the sole studio responsible for Spider-Man games, and it very much shows with the quality of this game in comparison to its predecessors.

[SPC Says: 6.5/10]

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