Activision gave fans a quality tie-in game to the first Amazing Spider-Man film. It featured a solid story that could have been a film itself and it was a good continuation of the story. Developer Beenox has been responsible for the last handful of Spider-Man games in which we have seen hits (Shattered Dimensions) and misses (Edge of Time). The big draw that most of the movie games (except the first Spider-Man) had was a simulated Manhattan, open for exploration. Aside from that, what sold me on the last game was that you were able to unlock multiple costumes from throughout Spider-Man’s wardrobe history. You could also unlock full digital comics featuring the first appearance of the game’s characters or storylines related to the game. I would expect no less from the sequel in terms of collectibles, the question is whether Beenox can reproduce or even improve upon the original formula that worked so well.
MASS CARNAGE I applauded the storyline of the first “Amazing” game because it played out like a real Spider-Man comic and could have been a storyline to a film on either the big or small screen. It really should have been called “The Amazing Spider-Man 1.5” because it took place a few months after the end of the movie and ran with everything that story established. This is not the case for the sequel. If you thought the plot behind the film version of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was convoluted, you might wanna hit your local warehouse store for a bucket of ibuprofen before playing this game. The plot, as it is, goes all over the place and cannot seem to decide whether it wants to follow the movie or not. Even if you have not seen the movie, you probably know that Harry Osborn and Max Dillon (Electro) are your big villains from trailers. Both of them are in the game, but unless you are a completionist they both feel tossed in. Only after you have collected their audio logs does it even remotely make sense for them to be in the game. Max makes one appearance in a mission as a hostage before you see him resurface as Electro at the end of the game. Harry is only in cut scenes until the Green Goblin surfaces. Unlike the first game, there is very little connection between movie and tie-in. Instead of explaining it in monologue like in previous games, we are forced to stumble through Uncle Ben’s murder scene as if that even made sense to have as a game level. You then chase his killer around the city for all of five minutes. Before you have the chance to catch him, you find that he has been viciously murdered by a serial killer that kills other murderers. Said killer uses his victims blood to tag the scene with the initials “CK.” In the most blatant case of reaching I have seen in a while, the Manhattan populous dubs CK the “Carnage Killer.” So while you track down the man that is obviously Cletus Kasady, you are also trying to stop a gang war that has gun violence at an all time high. Here is where the game could have excelled and properly tied into the movie. In the movie, after Gwen breaks up with Peter, he spends more time than usual as Spider-Man and the news reports on how much more he is being seen and how low the crime rate has dropped. The game mentions but never shows a pretty big handful of his rogues’ gallery. Crime bosses like Mister Negative and The Hood are being tracked by police, and you even see Mysterio’s costume and the Sandman’s shirt. Scorpion, Piranha and Iguana make their return in cameos (they have seen better days) and the Ultimate Rhino armor is sitting around as well (weird, because 616 Rhino was in the last game). Instead of having more boss fights like the first game, which would have allowed for more story exposition, you spend 85% of your time fighting random thugs and saving people from burning buildings. Even the villains that are used are done so poorly and the best storytelling in the entire game does not happen until the after-credits final scene. It truly is a shame the way the writers have failed this title.
IT’S MY CONTROLLER! The classic excuse for getting your ass kicked by your opponent. I wish I could say that is the case in this game but the fact is that the controls do not always work. It is clear that the developers really thought about how to make Spider-Man work properly, but I once again default to the previous game where things were so much easier. The one thing that is absolutely better in this game is the implementation of the Spider-Sense. The ability not only warns you of danger, it lets you know how to respond. If an enemy is about to hit you the sense glows red and you know to hit the dodge button. If it glows white, you know that standard dodging may not be enough because the enemy is about to launch a long range attack that might spread out (i.e. shotgun blast). What would be even more helpful would be if the dodge button worked properly. This is fortunately a minor gripe because the only time it is really a problem is when more than one enemy attacks you simultaneously and there are ways to work around the faulty dodge. The two biggest issues with gameplay are the free roam web swinging mechanics and the camera. It was decided to make web swinging more “realistic” and you can only swing when there is something to attach your web to. The last game was similar in this respect as you could not attach a web to the sky, but there was a lot more freedom. If they had made it work like the last game, the idea that your left shooter was mapped to the left trigger and vice-versa for the right would have been great. The realism effect only serves to slow you down unless you do quick swings and that is not as fun as a full swing. It is also worth mentioning that the last mission, which takes place at the Ravencroft facility, completely tosses this mechanic out the window. Ravencroft is an island and the building is not very tall so you literally do attach webs to nothing until you go inside. The camera is an issue mostly during close quarters fights because it zooms in too closely and you always have two or three guys off camera attacking you. The main reason this is bad is that your Spider-Sense does not seem to work as well on enemies that are off screen. Now let’s talk about what everyone will really “love” about this game: the infamous hero/menace system. Having recently played inFAMOUS: Second Son, I can say that this was a great idea on paper. How the public views Spider-Man is a big part of his story and had this been implemented properly it could be a staple in future games. The problem is that it was done all wrong. As fickle as the comic populace (or the real one) of Manhattan is, no one expects Spider-Man to be everywhere. If he saves someone at the South Street Seaport and a building burns down in Harlem at the same time, not even J. Jonah Jameson can blame that on the webhead. This system does exactly that. I am fine with having my reputation tarnished if I voluntarily start a mission and fail it or if I see a crime in progress and swing on by. This system makes your rep worsen if a crime happens nowhere near you and you don’t stop it. What’s more is that about halfway through the story missions, in order to introduce the task force created (primarily) by the Kingpin, your rep is set to “menace” regardless of what it was a moment before.When I reached that point I had previously been a level 3 hero. The task force is not a huge impedance to your progress unless you get hit with one of their anti-webbing fields which will ground you instantly. They even manage to bring back the smaller pursuit model Spider-Slayers from the first game (that were supposed to have been destroyed). As quickly as they show up, you can make the task force magically disappear if you get back into hero territory. It would have been better if they just were there in the streets and only fire at you if you are considered a menace.
SPIDEY IS SO…LAST-GEN I cannot wait until a Spider-Man game comes out that gives me that feeling like Web of Shadows did when the first trailer dropped. As you already know, I played this game on the PlayStation 4 and this game is not even up to standard of early next-gen visuals. There are some moments that shine and sadly, more than half of those moments are still pictures. Somehow, Beenox managed to make Manhattan a somewhat lower resolution than they did in ASM1. The times when this game shines and sort of looks like it belongs on a next gen console are when you are in Queens selecting your costume and during some of the cut scenes. When you are in free roam the graphical quality dips to mid-level PS3/360 visuals and there are actually some drops to PS2 level graphics although those are thankfully few and far between. It might sound like I am being too harsh but Amazing Spider-Man 1 which was made by the same developer was a more technically sound product. The framerate was steady, the game mechanics made more sense and the graphics were steady throughout. Then there is my biggest complaint where this disc almost became a frisbee. During the final battle, the game crashed completely. The PS4 may still be in its infancy in terms of console life, but I have played more than enough games on it to know that crash had nothing to do with the console as that has not happened on any other game. Save yourself the extra $10 and make sure you play this on PS3 or 360.
I have said a lot of negative things about this game and honestly I could go on. Even so, I looked forward to its release and I am for the most part happy that I played it. Regardless of the direction the next movie takes, I have ideas on how to help the game franchise. Unfortunately, I doubt the biggest one will be implemented which would be to get developer Treyarch back on the series. Leaving that alone, Beenox is capable of writing a good story and making a good game so why their track record is so spotty is beyond me. Unlike its predecessor, this story to this game is nothing to write home about if you even bother to make sense of it. I am sure that many people enjoyed having Carnage in the game but those same people, myself included, are bummed that Venom was reduced to being an experimental substance that led to Kasady becoming Carnage. The greatest plot device in this whole game was Donald Menken and if they use him in the movies the way they did in the game I expect big things from sequels on both ends. As many bad guys that were teased in this game I really hope Beenox steps up their development for the next title. The combat system was actually fine with the exception of the dodge button being a pain in the more tight situations. People will still say that it is stolen from the Batman Arkham series, but I have pointed out in the past that both Bats’ freeflow combat and stealth abilities were copied from earlier Spider-Man titles so that is a wash. The biggest improvement in this game over the last is that changing costumes actually boosts your stats. I hope that concept is fully expanded upon in the future because only the Big-Time costume really made a noticeable difference in gameplay, enhancing your stealth abilities. Overall, this game is a mess, albeit a playable one. It will probably appeal more to children that would skip over the cut scenes and just want to play than someone like myself that actually cares about story. Ultimately, this game should only be purchased by the most hardcore of Spider-Man fans and honestly they will be disappointed but they will be able to find enough to like to ease that feeling.