Past Blasts

Looking Back at The Amazing Spider-Man [Xbox 360]

Hello, true believers! I’ll be presenting this Past Blast in a slightly different format than usual, so without further ado:

Was The Amazing Spider-Man a good movie game?

The short answer? Heck yes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this was the best movie licensed video game that gamers will have seen in a long time, packing a very compelling narrative, solid game-play and plenty of incentives to explore its deep and rich world. This kind of effort from developer Beenox puts previous identikit effortless movie instalments including Monsters Vs Aliens and Green Lantern to utter shame.

Does it match up to Spider-Man 2, Beenox’s other efforts and/or Arkham City?

Right from the off, many of you will no doubt have wondered whether this movie tie-in could possibly live up to what are perceived as the best Spider-Man games, recent Spidey efforts from Beenox and indeed the legendary Batman: Arkham City. What I’ll do first is provide a brief list of the scores I would have given to the past aforementioned games:

  • Spider-Man 2 (2004): 4/5
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2005): 4/5
  • Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows (2008): 3/5
  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010): 3/5
  • Spider-Man: Edge Of Time (2011): 2/5
  • Batman: Arkham City (2011): 5/5

This is right up there with the best entries in the Spider-Man games roster so far. This almost does for Stan Lee’s Webbed Wonder what Arkham Asylum kicked off for the Dark Knight, yet there is a little too much crawling in repetitive sewers, Oscorp facilities, factories and sewers (oops, did I already mention that?) for this to be dubbed truly as ‘amazing’ a development as the Arkham series.

It’s probably fair to say that this may be the best Spider-Man game of all time, but all the same that doesn’t mean that it’s up on the same level as Batman’s best just yet.

How strong is the game’s storyline? Does it feel like a pointless epilogue?

There was a confidence here, thanks to Marvel’s allowance of creative vision on the part of the writing team, that can’t help but wow the player – even today.

After the events of the film, Peter Parker’s alter-ego is forced to live with the consequences of his actions as his attempts to stop the Lizard have put someone in power at Oscorp who poses perhaps an even greater threat. Surprisingly enough, this man is not Norman Osborn, yet the hints we get at his overarching role in this rebooted universe and the shocking plot twists that occur throughout the game are incredibly effective, doing to the film franchise what the Arkham games did to their self-contained version of the DC Comics universe.

While this game isn’t intended to connect The Amazing Spider-Man to its 2014 sequel, the narrative is a sublime adventure for players to blitz through, really upping the stakes in a way that other movie games could only aspire to.

Will the visuals impress me as much as Arkham City’s did?

Sadly, no. One of the only major faults I can pick out in Amazing are the graphics of the game. Much as Beenox have clearly put a lot of effort into creating a living and breathing replica of a modern-day Manhattan in their engine, the majority of the buildings, characters and environments on offer here are bland to say the very least.

It was never likely going to be possible for a movie game whose budget was sparse, to say the least, to match up to Rocksteady’s sublime, beautiful epic. Nevertheless, it is a shame that we’ve got graphics here that are more reminiscent of 2008’s Web Of Shadows than they are of Arkham.

Does the free-roaming Manhattan work well as an open-world?

Thankfully, this one is most definitely a positive. Although it perhaps doesn’t sport as wide a variety of (divisive) mini-games as the Spider-Man 2 tie-in’s incarnation of the Big Apple, this version of Manhattan is the most believable and realistic rendition of the city yet. Indeed, it truly fits in with the vision of the Marc Webb film reboot.

The new Web Rush mechanic allows for great, fluid navigation of the skyscrapers and roads in a way that no other game based around everyone’s favourite Webbed Wonder has before. Just swinging through Manhattan will feel pretty exhilarating to the vast majority of fans, and the action-packed battles you’ll partake in on the city’s various layers simply enhances the sheer immersion that this open-world exudes every time you boot it up.

Is the combat and stealth gameplay engine just a rehash of the Batman games?

There’s no doubting that Beenox has taken inspiration from the popularity of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City’s gameplay style in their road of development for Amazing. Anyone who’s played either of the aforementioned Dark Knight greats will smell their scent here from a mile off, and as such, there’s no way this licensed title could ever hope to fully top its superhero predecessor in terms of basic innovation.

Again, the Web Rush feature factors strongly into the way that Spider-Man faces his enemies, and for the most part this works marvel-lously (see what I did there?). However, the actual combat-counter system a la Arkham feels somewhat more static than its inspiration – there will be times where you’ll take hits that seemed unfair and the ‘Spider Sense’ alert mechanic doesn’t appear to give you nearly enough leeway. It’s nothing game-breaking by any means, but it does certainly highlight the learning gap between this and the near-perfect mechanics employed over in Gotham City in the past.

What kind of replay value (if any) is there in the title?

As I mentioned earlier, Beenox’s dedication to providing us with a Spider-Man title worthy of the universe’s fanbase has resulted in some brilliant extras being included on top of the campaign. In addition to the obligatory heaping of side missions and character upgrades, there are literally hundreds of comic-book pages scattered throughout the city for Spidey to grab on his travels.

Where other licensed titles might stop there and simply offer a few Achievements or Trophies at certain percentages of collection, the developers take things one step further. Once you’ve collected the required numbers of pages, you’ll actually have the chance to read the stories you’ve pieced together. Yep, from the classic issue of Amazing Fantasy that introduced us to the arachnid wonder to his own title’s first renditions of in-game baddies such as Rhino, Scorpion and Alistair Smythe, there really are some fantastic adventures to learn about or relive here, and it stands testament to Beenox’s attention to detail and nostalgia that they would include such a worthy source of replay value into a movie licensed game.

Conclusion

I think it’s fair to say that no-one would ever have expected The Amazing Spider-Man to be up there with the best games ever. What was a hugely pleasant surprise, though, is that were it not for the stolen gimmicks and lacklustre visuals, I think this entry really came closer than any other Spidey game to being considered for that accolade.

Now, we await next year’s Spider-Man on PS4. How will that turn out? Time will tell. Until then, Excelsior!

Advertisements

What do you think?