The Amazing Spider-Man
- Street Date:
- November 19th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Bill Braun
- Review Date:1
- December 5th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- PS Vita
- Mercenary Technology
- ESRB Rating:
- T (Teen)
Review contains minor spoilers for 'The Amazing Spider-Man' film.
Few fictional characters have withstood the test of time better than Spider-Man. Across a variety of mediums – comics, television, movies, and videogames – Peter Parker and his arachnid alter ego have become iconic heroes for countless fans. Although numerous developers have tried to deliver memorable games for the web slinger, only a few have succeeded. Most recently, the developers at Beenox have taken on this task. Starting with 2010s universe-hopping 'Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions', the less interesting 'Spider-Man: Edge of Time', and their latest offering, 'The Amazing Spider-Man.'
Based on the 2012 movie adaptation of the same name, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' was released for all console and handheld platform save one in June of that same year. Almost 18 months later, Mercenary Technology delivers a port for the PlayStation Vita.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Picking up shortly after the movie's conclusion, Dr. Curt Connors (aka, the Lizard), has been safely placed into a mental asylum and life has nearly returned to normal. But the scientific community is still recovering from the abominations that began with Dr. Connors' research, and things take a turn for the worse when the Oscorp building goes into lock-down after several cross-gene species escape their habitats. Gwen Stacy, along with numerous other scientists, are infected with the same virus Dr. Connors created, and it's a race against time for Spider-Man to save his loved ones and the city from total infection.
Taking a tip from some of the more successful Spider-Man games of the past, Beenox provides an open world sandbox, transforming the city into your playground. Although swinging from web to web and crawling up the side of any building is a great experience, the newest game mechanic – web rush – is what sets 'The Amazing Spider-Man' apart from so many games that came before it.
Slowing time down to a crawl (pun intended) you navigate your surroundings – whether indoors or out – and identify points to immediately "rush" to. This process is as simple as pushing the left shoulder button on the Vita, scanning the area for a highlighted Spider-Man icon, and instantaneously slinging to it. It could be the side of a building, the ceiling of a room, or the top of a flag pole. The web rush options are almost limitless and they will speed your journey and save you from countless desperate situations.
The fast paced nature of Spider-Man's web rush ability is a nice counterpart to the equally fast-paced combat. A first glance will bring to mind the superb free-flow combat of Rocksteady's Arkham series. Although it's a noticeable starting point, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' takes things to the next level, giving the combat a feeling more in tune with the action of a Spider-Man movie. Combos come into play the longer your hit streak runs, and finishing moves incorporate both your web shooters and over-the-top acrobatics that you can't help but feel empowered by.
Oftentimes the odds are stacked against you. Enemies will relentlessly come at you from every corner. Those situations call to action the stealthier side of Spider-Man, as a means of thinning the herd. You'll have the opportunity to web rush to the ceiling of a room, crawl over the heads of your enemies and, in one quick move, drop down, spin them into a web, and yank them back up to the ceiling – out of sight and out of the way.
This variety in gameplay is also reflected in the variety of enemies that you'll face: random thugs on the street, cross-gene mutants from the sewers, and even some of the more recognizable villains from the Spider-Man canon will make an appearance to test your strength and cunning. In addition, Spider-Man will also face a horde of Nano-technology killing machines of all shapes and sizes and with a single directive - destroy that which is not entirely human.
As the game progresses, so will your abilities. Practically everything you do in 'The Amazing Spider-Man' will earn character XP. Each experience level will unlock new abilities that can be refined and upgraded. The city is also littered with hidden "Tech" that can be collected and used to purchase even more abilities: web strength, suit resistance, and rapid fire, to name a few. By the end of the campaign you'll have crafted a finely tuned super hero, capable of saving the city from whoever – or whatever – tries to destroy it.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
As satisfying as the combat mechanics are, the graphical hiccups and slow-downs severely hinder an otherwise enjoyable experience. The most egregious offender is the inconsistent and unpredictable frame rate. I could be casually slinging across the city, or battling a dozen mutants, the frame rate would often dip (or not) to a near crawl. Even the occasional cut scene would see significant slow-down issues. Add to this the constant aliasing and you'll think your eyes are playing tricks on you.
When 'The Amazing Spider-Man' does run smooth you will also realize that it's not a pretty game on the PlayStation Vita. Many of the colors are muted and dull, the character animations are stiff and robotic, and the environments are drab and uninspiring. Visually, the best thing about 'The Amazing Spider-Man' is the game's namesake. Spider-Man's costume pops off the screen with vibrant reds and blues. His web design is impressively realistic and the costume effectively displays the wear and tear, cuts and shreds, from hours spent battling to save the city. Having played 'The Amazing Spider-Man' when it first released on the PlayStation 3, and the comparison isn't as favorable as the Vita is capable of. Where the PS3 version of the game was more visually impressive, this port of the game came up a little rough around the edges.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The best thing about the 'The Amazing Spider-Man's audio is also the worst thing - the voice acting. Although difficult to stomach such poorly written dialogue, the longer the game progressed the more I realized that it was in fact a fairly solid representation of the schlocky nature of the Spider-Man television and cartoon series of my childhood. Anyone who grew up with Spider-Man during the late 70s and early 80s will be more susceptible to reminisce. Eventually, it will grow on you.
Accompanying the action and voice acting is the pleasing orchestral soundtrack. The highs and lows are all accounted for and fit nicely with the game's shift in tone – dark and brooding while searching the sewers, exciting and epic while web slinging across the city heights. Unfortunately, where the visuals of 'The Amazing Spider-Man' suffered from the frame rate, so did the audio. When at its worst, conversations became indecipherable and the music would skip like a severely abused vinyl record.
At the conclusion of 'The Amazing Spider-Man' the city remains open, free to swing to your heart's desire. As the game offers numerous side missions and collectibles, those that remain from the campaign will still be clearly marked on your map. Civilians infected with the cross-gene virus still need medical attention, back-alley criminals and bank robbers still need to be dealt with, and photographic opportunities will still be available. You'll easily find enough to do for several more hours, but the missions that remain are all very much of a rinse-and-repeat formula and show little in the way of offering new experiences. You will also have the ability to change the backdrop of the city to reflect the various stages from the story: morning, afternoon, sunset, night - even a burning and nearly destroyed city as the backdrop.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
The bonus content is similar to the content provided with both 'Arkham Asylum' and 'Arkham City'. As characters are discovered and creatures are fought, their statue counterparts are on full display for you to zoom in and rotate. Always impressive to view from within the Arkham universe, these depictions, although not as many, are equally as impressive.
Technical issues aside, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' for the PlayStation Vita was more fun than what I would have expected. Its oddly-timed release may be cause for some initial confusion, but given time to settle into the rhythm of the game you'll find there is much to appreciate and enjoy. A superhero game that makes you feel like a superhero will always be a winning formula in my book. Given the choice to play 'The Amazing Spider-Man' on the console or the Vita I would recommend the former over the latter. However, if console game play is not an option, give the Vita version a chance. You might just find something amazing . . . um . . . great? . . . Hmmm, no . . . fun? Yes, fun. You might just find something fun about it.
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