The Amazing Spider-Man 2 review
You’ll spend a lot of time fighting in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You’ll be fighting the petty thugs of New York City; fighting the annoyingly awkward controls used for web swinging; fighting one of the most irritating cameras to appear since the introduction of 3D gaming, and generally fighting the will to not turn off your Xbox 360 and do something a bit more entertaining. In short The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of the worst games we’ve experienced for quite some time, and simply highlights the fact why so many gamers stay away from licences these days.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 really shouldn’t be as bad as it is. After all, the template for a great Spider-Man game was created 10 years ago with Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2. Add in the fact that this is Beenox’s fourth stab at the licence, and you’d really expect something better than the shambling mess on offer here.
Take the web swinging for example. While we applaud the fact that Beenox has gone for realism – you can only swing if there’s something nearby to actually attach your webs to – it never feels like a smooth ride and you’ll often find yourself at the mercy of The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s infuriating camera. One minute you’re swinging past a tower block, the next you’re somehow running up the side of a building as the camera swings wildly around you. It gets better with practice of course, but it’s amazing that Beenox still can’t get this critical aspect of Spider-Man right. Being Spider-Man should give you a sense of freedom, a sense that New York is a playground for you to run rampant in, but here you just feel shackled. Beenox has thrown in a huge amount of collectibles to find, and plenty of side quests to keep you busy, but it’s all for naught because navigating the skyline of Spidey’s home turf is such a dull experience.
Combat is another area where Beenox’s game falls resoundingly flat. It’s clearly based on the silky smooth combat of the Arkham games, but it feels like Beenox simply did research by looking at pictures of Batman’s combat, rather than actually see it in action. The Arkham games have a pleasingly fluid flow to them, allowing you to really revel in taking down bad guys. In Beenox’s game it’s a continuous case of mashing X, occasionally hitting Y to dodge heavily televised counterattacks. Oh and the camera constantly spasms here as well, so you’ll often be fighting enemies that rarely appear on screen. You can buy upgrades that allow you to pull enemies closer, pin their weapons, or throw them, but there’s a constant clunky feel to proceedings and, like the web swinging, you never really feel in control.
The weak combat is particularly noticeable in boss fights, as it simply highlights the laziness of each encounter. While some of the later bosses do have interesting attack patterns that need to be exploited, many are simply a battle of attrition, with you simply chipping away at their energy bars, hoping against hope that you won’t get trapped too near a wall, which will again cause the camera to flip out, taking your energy with it. Fighting rarely feels fun, which would be fine, if there wasn’t so much of it.
One of Spider-Man’s 2 more interesting mechanics is morality. As Spider-Man follows the game’s laughably bad story, he has the option to rescue trapped people, defeat enemies, stop face-offs between the police and armed thugs, defuse bombs and generally be an all-round good egg. Succeed and you can go to bed at night pleased you’ve done a good job, fail, or ignore crime and your Menace Meter will rise, causing the city’s armed guards to continually attack you until you return to Hero status. It’s a nice idea in practice, but you’ll often start a new part of the story with your notoriety raised, meaning plenty of mundane acts of rescuing and fighting to bring it back down again.
There’s further misguided gameplay mechanics with sections that focus on you investigating New York’s crime spree as Peter Parker. You occasionally get to wander around taking photos, while questioning some of the heroes and villains of Spider-Man’s world. Again, it’s a nice idea in theory, but the dialogue here is trite, while you lose virtually nothing (aside from having to not endure the poor voice acting) by not actually asking anything. It’s just a pointless diversion keeping you away from zipping across New York as Spidey.
And that’s perhaps our biggest issue with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it certainly tries, but everything about it is so sloppy and misguided. Visually it’s as much of a mess as the gameplay with screen-tearing, jarring pop-up and plastic looking character models that look like they’ve escaped from a PS2 game, while it’s filled with numerous bugs that often require a hard reset. Sadly, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a terrible, terrible game and an astonishing waste of a classic super hero.