The funny thing is that movie games have a pretty terrible reputation in the gaming world. Most are quickly put together knock-offs of what could be considered a full game that depend upon riding on the fame of the established franchise. But back in 2004, Spider-Man 2 based off the Sami Rami take on the franchise changed all that.
Without reliance upon the movie, Spider-Man 2 as a game was just good. It was a great movie game, a great super hero game and most importantly a great Spider-Man game (considered the best of the character up to this point). But ten years later, the game and movie franchises have both gotten a reboot and that’s not always a good thing.
First let’s talk about the story of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. While I applaud the writers trying to separate themselves from the movie slightly be adding in a whole new subplot connecting the scenes between the movie as previous games often do, the beats in this one just feel off. The early beat that introduces the game’s main antagonist also directly messes with the whole Uncle Ben story and what happens to Ben’s killer. It feels about as accurate to the character as Superman killing in Man of Steel.
This also leads to the most poorly veiled villain reveal ever. An individual on a serial killing spree whose initials are CK and is referred to as the “Carnage Killer” by the media. Not only does it leave absolutely no surprise when the character is revealed but it also loses the essence of the character. Regardless of powers, Carnage is a lunatic who kills for enjoyment, not to keep the scum off the street. Being a vigilante in the style of the Punisher gives him some redemption rather than the ultimate evil he actually should be viewed as. Oh yea, and then the Kingpin jumps in to try and take over Oscorp from Harry Osborn because… why not?
Next come the mechanics. The game’s fighting is what you’d expect from a super hero beat ’em up. While not as tight as the Arkham series, it still does a respectable job using the Spider-Sense as a warning for when to dodge and counter. Interestingly enough, why does Batman have Spider-Sense in his games? There isn’t some crazy Bat-Radar power he was infused with that we were never told about was there? Much like previous games, combos rack up in multi-opponent battles and as momentum grows so does the impressiveness of moves.
The mechanic of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that doesn’t work so well is the webswinging. One aspect of the webswinging I do actually fully support is that there needs to be something for Spidey to actually attach a web to for him to swing. It doesn’t make sure when you can just climb nothingness in Central Park. What doesn’t fit though is the manual process that takes place when swinging. A player while swinging around town needs to actively shoot web lines using the shoulder buttons. The result isn’t a more immersive experience. It is instead frustrating and frankly embarrassing as Spider-Man smacks into buildings left and right. It ends up becoming easier to just wall run directly up a building and jump for it instead of trying to swing between the skyscrapers of Manhattan. The Amazing Spider-Man‘s web swinging should be the equivalent of the parkour of the Assassin’s Creed series but that doesn’t happen.
Something very confusing about a movie tie-in is when it has the rights to the licensing but not the likeness rights for the actors in the movie or access to voiceover from the actors. Instead there are psuedo-lookalike and soundalike character models and voice actors that are still far enough removed from what is expected by sharing a title with a franchise.
One thing that stood out during this expansion of the Spider-Man franchise was the explanation behind alternate costumes. Not only are they giving Spider-Man alternate bonuses depending upon the outfit but they are given a story behind why Peter would be swapping suits. While a little inorganic, the effort is at least appreciated compared to new costumes just appearing out of nowhere.
… and the Short
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game resembles the feature film of the same name in more ways than one. Much like the film, it is an overall underwhelming experience and while it tries to follow certain beats it seems to miss some of the key tenants of the Spider-Man character. Instead of being nods to the actual character, they wind up being divergences. In the end, it falls into the same tropes that movie games and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 falls into playable and fun but ultimately mediocre gameplay. What is especially disappointing is that the team at Beenox just a few years ago did such a fantastic job with games like Spider-Man: Edge of Time.
Playstation 4 (Also on PlayStation 3, XBox One, XBox 360, PC and Wii U)