Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition (Wii U) Review

Our next review is for The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition for the Wii U. The game is available currently at Toys 'R' Us for the low entry price of $29.99. Once you've let this review sink in, perhaps you'll be heading out to pick up the game for that price point. Otherwise, you can get the game for $39.99, a price that more late ports should be priced at, or perhaps not buy the game at all. Your choice.

With great power comes a Wii U port that's a bit late.

Nintendo fans have had a love/hate relationship with third-parties. Up until the Nintendo 64, Nintendo home consoles were bastions for great third-party support. Now, third-parties have a nasty habit of releasing test games, half-hearted efforts, and late ports to Nintendo systems, much to the chagrin of Nintendo console owners. The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is the latter of these types of titles, which are no stranger to the Wii U. Already we have seen many late ports in the form of Mass Effect 3, Madden, Darksiders II, and Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition. That said, despite the original versions that came out late June in North America, The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is still a worthwhile game for those like me who have not played the game in any form yet. After this review I hope you'll see why, true believers.

The Amazing Spider-Man video game is an epilogue to the feature film that released last summer, so if you are like me and haven't seen the movie, then you will be spoiled on what happened in the video game. The only difference is that while I didn't mind, you might, so there is that cautionary warning to give out. The story of the game is one that will keep players playing to see how everything ends, and it does a great job developing the characters.

Just realize that our relationship, Felicia, is
a platonic superhero/criminal one.
The game is open world, and as Spider-Man you can freely swing around Manhattan, either following along with the story (i.e. entering indoor levels to progress the game's plot) or doing a series of side missions, which there are many in the game to do. While many are similar to one another (e.g. dropping off escaped mental institution patients at the police station compared to dropping off infected civilians to a local makeshift hospital), there is plenty to do in Manhattan. Whether you're saving a denizen from a group of thugs, stopping up to three speeding getaway cars, or participating in "Xtreme" challenges like races and photo shoots, if you're looking for superfluous content in your Spider-Man games, you have it in The Amazing Spider-Man.

The best part about being Spider-Man is doing everything a Spider-Man can. This includes my favorite ability, web-slinging. The web-slinging in The Amazing Spider-Man is fast, fluid, and feels excellent. It's much more beginner friendly than, say, what was available in Spider-Man 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX), but it still requires a bit of finesse to master. There are an abundance of buildings to swing from, and proficient web-slingers will trek across town effortlessly. I cannot help but agree when Spider-Man yells, "Whoo-hoo! I'm loving this!"

Web-slinging is as awesome as ever in
The Amazing Spider-Man.
In addition to traditional web-slinging, what makes The Amazing Spider-Man's version of the ability so great is how it works with a new mechanic, the web rush. When you hold down the R button, you enter web rush mode, a first-person mode that sees the world through the webhead's eyes, where everything slows down to a crawl-- enemies, the environment, etc. You can aim at glowing Spider-Man silhouettes and let go of the R button to automatically speed towards them. This is essential for reaching spots with perfect precision, particularly indoor areas.

The web rush is an invaluable ability for Spidey to have.
Web rush isn't just limited to getting around town or anywhere else for that matter. It has various indoor uses that can save a superhero spider's rear end. (Is there a scientific name for that?) Web rush allows you to hang from ceilings, perches, walls, and whatnot and sneak up on unaware foes. You can then perform what the game calls a stealth takedown to grab the enemy and wrap them up in Spidey's web. Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice mad stealth skills. Web rush is also paramount to combat. You can target enemies to sling right into them to start assaults, as well as pick up objects to chuck at baddies, too.

These cross species hunters don't 
really care for Spider-Men.
Combat is heavily reminiscent and no doubt inspired by the Batman: Arkham games. Why not borrow from something that works well? In the case of The Amazing Spider-Man, it makes for combat that feels wonderful. Spider-Man can effortlessly flow into punches, kicks, and combos as he battles hordes of foes. When his Spider Sense goes all tingly and white lines dance above his head, you can press the evade button to have Spider-Man counter an enemy's attack. By racking up combos you get more experience.

Spider-man is one of the few superheroes that 
can breakdance while he fights.
Experience is given out for virtually everything-- completing missions in both story and side varieties, finding hidden objects in levels such as magazines and audio journals (getting 100% items found in every level is yet another optional task that aspiring completionists can try out as beaten levels can be returned to), beating up baddies, and a plethora of other ways. Earned experience and tech upgrades can be used to purchase new abilities and options. Spidey can take less damage from physical attacks, gunfire, and acid, for instance. He can learn new web tricks, offensive moves, and other helpful bonuses.

One might wonder what the purpose of an almost year-old port of The Amazing Spider-Man is. Not only is the Wii U version $39.99 MSRP, which is a price that all old ports, regardless of quality should be priced at maximum, but this version of the game features all of the downloadable content from the other versions already on the disc. This means you can play as Rhino in special challenges or Stan Lee to your heart's content. By far my favorite feature of this ultimate edition of the game is off-TV play, that is, playing the game solely on the Wii U GamePad. Otherwise, the GamePad is used as a map for getting around Manhattan and for getting phone calls.

Use the Wii U GamePad as a map, or use it
as the screen to play the entire game on.
Regardless of these bonuses for the ultimate edition, there are some technical issues that are plain to see. In fact, it's pretty easy to call this Wii U port non-optimized for the system or at most a quick and dirty one. For one, there is a fair amount of screen tearing. While this is obvious to see, you pretty much get used to it. Graphical aficiandos will most likely be unable to cope with this. Also, the frame-rate becomes unstable when there is an immense amount of action going on. This is most blatant during deadlock side missions where there is a lot of enemies around and gunfire going on. Additionally, twice I fell under Manhattan, and instead of seeing what I expected to find, sewers, I found a huge void. Luckily, I could web-sling out of my vacuous prison without needing to restart, or worse, reset the game. Lastly, the final technical issue that happens occurs in Miiverse. Occasionally, when trying to post screenshots, the poster's Wii U will hang up and freeze in the process of posting. Hopefully a lot of these problems will be addressed with via patches, or at least the Miiverse issue. Then again, knowing third-parties and Nintendo home consoles, when there is a limited amount of effort that can be done, that is usually what a third-party will do.

Play as Rhino as part of the bonus content.
Despite all of the technical issues with the Wii U version of The Amazing Spider-Man, I still found myself having a great deal of fun with the game. No, it is not a marvel of technology, and no, it does not run the smoothest. That said, web-slinging around Manhattan is absolutely entertaining, the side missions, though sometimes repetitive, offer a multitude of extra content, and the story will keep players invested. As stated through a multitude of means, The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is indeed an imperfect port, but I would be hard-pressed to say it isn't an enjoyable ride. Rather than be a-"meh"-zing, this Wii U port is worth looking into, especially if you missed out the first time around when the original game released.

[SPC Says: 7.5/10]

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