Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a Spider-Man can. Unfortunately, Spidey still can’t seem to make a decent video game. With the exception of Spider-Man 2: The Video Game in 2004, the comic book star has failed to impress critics and gamers alike on consoles.

Fast forward to 2014 and, to coincide with the film release of the same name, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has web swung its way onto the Xbox One. Could the superhero’s latest outing be the video game fans deserve?

Despite having the same name, the video game’s plot contains massive differences from the film’s storyline. Developed by Beenox, the Xbox One title follows Peter Parker’s hunt for Uncle Ben’s killer. Set in New York, he soon finds that the city’s thugs are preparing for a major gang war. It’s up to Peter Parker’s alter-ego (Spider-Man) to prevent the criminals from taking over the city.

One of the main advantages of differentiating from the film’s storyline is that it allows for more of Spider-Man’s villains to make an appearance. From Green Goblin to Black Cat and Cletus Kasaday to Shocker, the title features a wide range of bosses, which will please fans of the series.

In terms of gameplay, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set in the open world of Manhattan, which players are freely able to explore. The only methods of getting around are web-swinging and web rushing, which have been re-innovated for Spidey’s latest outing.

Players use the left trigger to shoot a web from Spider-Man’s left hand and the right trigger to shoot from his right hand. Both triggers can be held at the same time, allowing players to boost Spider-Man’s speed. Unlike its predecessor, webs appear to attach to nearby buildings. While it does come with a slight learning curve, it’s effective, but it’s by no means perfect. In more open areas of the game (such as Central Park and the borders), it’s difficult for the webs to affix onto the surroundings. Furthermore, gaining height can prove particularly challenging.

Morality is a new implementation for the series, which sees players becoming a hero or a menace, depending on whether they successfully complete the game’s side activities. Unfortunately, this comes with a number of flaws. The main issue with the morality system is that the side missions are dull and repetitive. Stopping criminals from carrying out petty crimes, saving civilians from burning buildings and cars and taking photographs are far from entertaining, especially when players have to complete the tasks over and over again.

While they are entirely optional, failure to complete these tasks results in Spider-Man dropping into the menace zone. As a result, Task Force drones track the super hero down and attempt to kill him – making the game almost unplayable at times. Despite the idea being clever, it is let down by poor implementation.

Another system the game incorporates is upgrades, which provides Spider-Man with new techniques and increased power to some of his abilities. These are unlocked by players spending their hard-earned tech points – primarily earned through completing missions. While some of the upgrades are particularly noticeable and can prove extremely helpful, a number of upgrades go unnoticed and their inclusion is certainly questionable.

In terms of combat, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 contains a rather simple system that gets repetitive incredibly quickly. Using X to punch and B to fire web, players can defeat the vast majority of enemies by simply button mashing. Whereas a number of enemies require players to evade attacks and bullets (by pressing Y), they still aren’t particularly challenging, even in the later stages of the game.

Quite oddly, the game doesn’t feature a lock-on system, as players will often find themselves punching and kicking against thin air. It’s a small oversight that could have massively benefitted the system. Nevertheless, there are some positives to be taken from the combat. During boss battles, players have to think carefully about their approach to the fight, as button mashing will very rarely see them progress.

Another issue with the game is the amount of bugs that are evident (and I’m not just on about Spider-Man). Players will often find that the game can become unresponsive, most commonly while web-swinging, and the camera angle can also cause a number of problems.

Scattered throughout Manhattan are a number of collectibles, including audio logs, comic books, figures, costumes, and Jameson’s photos. Gathering these items unlocks a range of features and rewards, such as upgrades and concept art. It’s a tried and tested system that adds much-needed playtime to the title.

While the game isn’t exactly short, the main campaign can be completed in approximately ten hours, with the remaining side missions and collectibles being wrapped up within another five hours or so. The lack of replayability means that even achievement junkies may think twice about playing through it again.

Graphically, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is very disappointing and is easily comparable to a sub-standard Xbox 360 title, with poor textures and weak lip-syncing evident throughout. While there’s the occasional close-up that shows sign of next-generation detail and the frame rate manages to withstand the fast-paced action, the overall presentation is hugely unsatisfying.

As for the audio, there’s a lack of voice talent from the movie itself, with stand-ins replacing the likes of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. While they do an adequate job of filling in for the real thing, it still comes as a bit of a disappointment and the repetitive lines of dialogue get annoying quickly.