Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 is widely considered to be the high watermark of Spider-Man games with its introduction of the open world and free roaming web slinging. It innovated in ways that made the game extremely memorable and felt perfectly how a Spidey title should feel. Even today most of the webslinger’s outings are compared to the excellence that was Spider-Man 2 and while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seeks to reach heights of similar success, it unfortunately has nowhere to swing from.
The next game in the Beenox line of Spider-Man creations, I can’t help but wonder if Beenox is getting tired of making these things because The Amazing Spiderman 2 really shows signs of it. The game, while having the same name as the movie, isn’t trying to make a carbon copy of the movies plot but instead, like Amazing Spider-Man 1, its plot takes place outside of the movie timeline. This lends to some problems though as it feels like the movie villains, Electro and Green Goblin, have just been shoehorned into what otherwise would be a very interesting story. Leading to awkwardly placed bosses, unlike the other characters it never really fits the story that they should be there.
The other characters in this game feel different enough with a colorful cast of Spider-Man villains showing up with Shocker, Kraven the Hunter, Kingpin, Carnage, and Black Cat all making a return as bosses to wind down certain chapters of the story. Neither very exciting or engaging, all the fights use the same system, every boss having a specific weakness that you have to exploit over and over again until their beaten. It makes the battles feel very weak and lazy because there is so much more they could have done with all these unique characters than they did.
As for the games combat system, it takes points straight from Batman’s book with the X button being attack and Y being counter, which is signalled when you see Spider-Man’s spider sense flashing above his head, warning of incoming attacks. While I enjoyed the combat system of the Batman Arkham games, here it feels a little more clunky and inaccurate. Spider-Mans animations have been ramped up though and I never got tired of seeing him use his moves in combat.
The game is set in an open world once again, a staple since Spider-Man 2 did it so spectacularly, but this city doesn’t feel nearly as lifelike or alive with NPCs always using the same walk cycles, hardly interacting at all, and many just color palettes. Although the world close-up isn’t very impressive, swinging through it with web slinging is the best its ever been with the L and R buttons being used for each arm. With this new system you can only attach webbing when you have an actual building or structure to attach your web too. The idea is impressive and implemented well but I wish they had spent more time on other parts of the game rather than putting so much effort into this aspect of it. That being said the web swinging here is at its all time best and it was a blast to use to travel.
There is also a new open world mechanic called the Hero/Menace Meter. How this mechanic works is it gauges how Spider-Man is viewed within the eyes of the public. By preventing crimes and saving people you positively add to meter but by ignoring crimes and letting them expire, it effects the meter negatively. While you are in the Hero side of the meter the Task Force will leave you alone and it adds positive stats and experience, but if you are viewed as a Menace then the Task Force will attack you on sight and you will lose stats on your suits as well as gain less experience. This mechanic is an interesting idea but it quickly becomes more of a nuisance than anything else. Later in the game crimes will start expiring faster than you can stop them or solving crimes won’t give you enough hero meter to keep ahead, and at certain points in the story even if you have max hero meter, the game will reset your meter down to menace levels destroying your time spent preventing crimes.
The rest of the side missions aren’t that much better there being races to unlock concept art and a new costume if you beat them all, while Photo Investigations are pretty much taking pictures of the same situations multiple times to unlock more audio files. The only unique and worthwhile side missions are the Russian Hideouts where you unlock more costumes by taking out guards through only stealthy means. Its screams of Batman once again but with Spider-Mans ability to wall crawl and rappel down using webbing, it adds a unique spin to it. Planning on how to take out guards without being seen was some of the best fun I had with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and it definitely added to have something to do other than just beat up thugs.
Speaking of thugs, the enemies in this game all come in the same varieties for all factions: there’s basic baddies that get hit normally and get countered normally, big baddies that need to be shocked with a Sonic Blast and then pummelled, and agile and flying enemies that need to be web pulled towards you to be able to hit them. While these enemies are unique and add some more challenge to combat, they do become annoying by requiring almost 3 to 4 pulls or sonic blasts before they can be defeated.
The upgrades are a little disappointing as well with the only cool power up in the game being the Sonic Blast, which can knock down multiple enemies. The only other upgrades are upgrades to basic abilities and none of the upgrades are really all that useful except for the Spider Sense, which, when maxed out, gives you ability to sense collectibles. This proves invaluable if you want to collect all the readable comic books.
On the subject of comic books, the game offers a treasure trove of fan service in way of the the Comic Stand. The Comic Stand or Comic Stan, is run by none other than Stan Lee, who is sort of a new father figure to Peter Parker as he knew both him and Uncle Ben before that fateful event. In the Comic Stand there is a wealth of fan service including full readable comics that highlight the first time villains of the game appeared in the Spider-Man comics, as well as cool Spider-Man moments in general. In the Comic Stand you can also look up Concept Art that you have unlocked in the races as well as try out Combat Challenges.
The Combat Challenges themselves are standard fare in that you take out baddies by satisfying certain conditions. Each combat challenge you complete unlocks more concept art and by beating all of them, you can unlock a whole new costume. The costumes in this game are also filled with fan service with some dating back to the oldest comics and some dating to the newest. These aren’t just little variations either, The Hornet, Ricochet, Spider-Man 2099, and even Miles Morales all making an appearance here. These nods to the Spider-Man fans in general are great but I wish they had been structured around a better game.
At the end of the day, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a good title plagued with just a few too many problems that drag it down. While the web slinging is awesome and the story is unique and interesting, things like the Hero/Menace meter and the horrible side missions drag down what otherwise could have been a great game. It seems that Beenox is tired of making Spider-Man projects and it really shows with this.