The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

By Blair Nokes on May 12, 2014

The developers at Beenox are certainly no stranger to the Spider-man game franchise. Taking over after Shaba Games' Web of Shadows, the Quebec team have since put forth the last 4 major instalments, two of which tie into the new Amazing Spider-man films directed by Marc Webb. Spider-man Shattered Dimensions had players control four unique Spider-men from different Spider-man universes and had one of the largest casts of Spidey's rogue's gallery, though some felt off about not being able to swing as freely as we were used to in previous games. Edge of Time improved on that somewhat by offering larger maps, but the game was still fairly linear, and much shorter. Its combat and story written by Spider-man 2099 creator Peter David were some noteworthy features about the game.

Finally in 2012, Beenox listened to the fans and created a Spider-man game set in an open world New York City to tie into the movie, The Amazing Spider-man. Donning the same name, players were allowed to freely swing about in a decently large city, and fight baddies with a fight system akin to Rocksteady's Batman Arkham games. It certainly makes more sense for Spider-man, seeing as how he actually has a superpower that allows him to counter with quick reflexes. The game however was far from perfect; as open as the game tried to be, most of the missions were in very linear levels, and one of the major issues with Spider-man's swinging was the dreaded moon swing "“ where web lines wouldn't actually stick to anything and places you shouldn't be able to swing let you anyway. The swinging itself felt great, and had a wonderful camera perspective that really captured the rush of swinging around a concrete jungle. Now two years later, Beenox promised to step their game up quite a bit and change some core fundamentals with their latest movie tie in, The Amazing Spider-man 2. Let's see how well they fared.

The game's story takes place after the first Amazing Spider-man game, and it is great to see that they chose to keep the story intact as opposed to just creating a movie based game for the sake of it. Events from the previous game are mentioned too, with nods to The Lizard, and Scorpion. The intro to this game has us playing the famous event that ultimately led to Peter's choice of becoming a hero. We interact with him at the convenient store, allowing a petty criminal to get away with a crime followed by a gun shot. The game cuts into a really rushed looking art slideshow of Uncle Ben that almost looked like concept art. Beenox has been pretty good with actual cutscenes in their other titles, so it was weird to see such a large corner cut for the very first moments of the game.

After this, the game flashes forward two years later, with Spider-man still in search of Uncle Ben's killer. This eventually leads us to find out that Uncle Ben's killer works for Herman Schultz, who fans will recognize as Spider-man's infamous punching bag "“ The Shocker. After a confrontation with Schulz he tells the player that Ben's killer's name is Dennis Carradine. Unfortunately, after finally getting to Carradine we find out that we're too late; he's been murdered with the initials "CK" written in blood. Shortly after we're told that CK stands for the Carnage Killer, and at this moment you could probably take a wild guess as to who that may be. The game's main plot basically starts here, and has woven Kraven, Kingpin, Electro, and other characters from Spider-man's universe into the mix.

For the most part it's done quite well while maintaining a coherent plot, though at times it does feel that they tried cramming as many as they could for the sake of having lots of people. As a story, it's nothing to write home about, and it certainly doesn't feel like as much care was put into it as it was with Shattered Dimensions, or even Edge of Time despite its faults. However, it's worth noting that Kraven was used very interestingly in this game. In this game, he is first introduced not as the big game hunting predator, but as a mentor figure for Spider-man. He plays a role in the honing of Spider-man's predatory skills and instincts, and I thought it was a nice touch to use him in this way.

The gameplay is largely the same as its 2012 predecessor, though there have been some changes. The locale is the same New York setting, however Beenox has done a very good job at improving the scale of the buildings. They feel a lot larger than before and it makes the world feel like a bigger playground. The most notable change here is the web swinging mechanics. Most of the fans of any Spider-man game would usually place the Spider-man 2 movie game in very high regard for its revolutionary web swinging that allowed us to anchor to walls. It felt like real webbing and coupled with the speed upgrades it really felt like being Spider-man. With the Amazing Spider-man 2, web swinging is mapped to the left and right triggers for your left and right arms. It's tricky at first but it makes for a great and natural way of swinging. Beenox have also taken pages of Treyarch's Spider-man 2 with a similar anchoring ability to have webs attach to walls. This doesn't always work out, as there are certain places where moon swinging is present, though one can appreciate the effort to try and appease the popular demand.

Combat is the same as before, and sadly remains a lighter, clunkier Arkham game. It certainly makes more sense for Spider-man to have quick reflexes to counter, block and counter-attack. And a Spider-sense replaces Batman's detective mode, which again may be a borrowed mechanic but ultimately works well given the character we're dealing with. The combos can look flashy and his signature finishing moves look great; it's just the animations and transitions between attacks feels less polished than the near seamlessness of Rocksteady's games. This may come off as an unfair comparison, but fighting games like Marvel vs Capcom have nailed the fluidity of Spider-man's fight style and incorporation of all of his powers, and if Beenox or any other company are looking to make another game, I sincerely hope they take inspiration for how it's done in those games, and try and make a fighting system more in line with something you'd find in Devil May Cry or Bayonetta.

In the first Amazing Spider-man game, side missions were usually very linear and while , however in this sequel they have not only made these levels much larger, but also have given players the choice in how they wish to progress. Maps are large enough to sneak around in, and stealthily take down enemies, and of course there is the option of going in head first pummelling all in sight.

There have been several new additions to the core gameplay mechanic. The first is the ability to be Peter Parker. This is one of the few times where a lot of attention was given to Peter, with missions designed for us to take photos, investigate certain areas, and basically spend time living life outside of Spider-man. It's certainly a change of pace and does serve its purpose in the story, but they can be quite boring at times.

Another new way of playing is the Hero/Menace dynamic. It's a sloppily put together morality system that essentially forces you to do all the side missions, or else. It's neat in the sense that what you do affects the city, how people behave around you, or even who chases after you, but the system is flawed. It will always fluctuate no matter what. You could be swinging towards a mission, and as soon as it disappears, you're penalized and drop in ratings. You could be on the opposite end of New York, and once again if you don't reach a side mission in time, even if you're in the midst of one, you drop your hero score. There really is no end-game to this if everything you do to become a Hero can change at a whim. It's just a way to get you to keep doing side missions for added longevity. It was a neat concept to essentially be a city's janitor, but it doesn't seem like something players will want to do.

Another quick toss in was the ability to choose Spider-man or Peter Parker's line of questioning when interrogating or interviewing people. The game gives you a choice of three options, but there's no different outcome from saying things in a different order, no penalization for asking the wrong thing, and at times it just seems like you ask all the questions regardless. So it's less of an integral component to the story, and more like a mechanic that's just there.

Collectibles make their return in the form of comics and also wearable costumes. Stan Lee also makes another appearance and is now owner of a comic book shop that you can enter and browse, viewing back issues of comics you collect from pages around the city. Comic pages to find have now dropped to 300, which is probably the first time I'll welcome a reduction in a sequel as it was a boring chore to do in the first. Audio logs are scattered throughout the game world, and individual missions that add to the game's lore and random tech pieces (experience) are thrown around just in case you aren't levelling fast enough.

Spider-man's wardrobe of costumes makes a delightful return, and this, coupled with the web swinging, are easily the highlights of this game. You unlock suits as you progress throughout the game, and if you happened to pre-order it you would have been given the Cosmic Spider, the Iron Spider, Spider-man Noir, and the Symbiote Suit right off the bat. Instead of just being a fashion show for Spider-man through the ages in all his wacky designs, all of these costumes possess differentiating stats, each with their pros and cons. All suits can level up individually boosting these specific attributes. This was a brilliant way of not only letting the player choose their favourite looking Spider-man, but also finding one that works best for certain scenarios. Naturally, the Symbiote suit has added damage, the Noir suit boosts stealth and the Iron Spider boosts defense and reduces flame damage. How you play will ultimately determine what suit you'll use the most.

For an open world game, The Amazing Spider-man 2 looks decent enough. Spider-man's model and all of his costumes are easily the highlight of the game. For a game set for the newer consoles, it just doesn't look as good, especially for the PS4's case as there was an exceptional looking open world Super Hero game that released not one month prior. This certainly doesn't hold a candle to inFamous' visuals, but it's clear the development was made with the PS3 and the 360 in mind. It's certainly not the worst looking game, it's just clear that more could have easily been done. Enemy AI is laughably bad, even starting out on the highest difficulty. They're easy to parry, easy to sneak behind and don't pose much of a threat at all.

Final Thoughts

Fans like myself will undoubtedly spend a lot of time swinging through the city just as we did with Spider-man 2 and in both instances we forgave the average story and repetitious side missions. There are a lot of great things to like about this game. The swinging may not as be nearly as much fun as Spider-man 2, but it's still fun to do regardless, and certainly looks better too. The combat isn't as deep as it should be and it comes across as. It is welcome that they offered side missions to increase the play time, but the useless addition of the Hero/Menace dynamic makes it more frustrating than anything. Beenox are more than capable of giving us an Amazing Spider-man game, outside of just calling it that, but they haven't showcased that here.

Web swinging is greatly improved
Great use of costumes
Better level designs this time around
Combat isn’t as polished as obvious competitors in the genre
Worthless Hero/Menace mode
Dumb enemy AI
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