Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stumbles in its swing
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
When a movie-related video game releases at the same time as the film, usually there's a question of what corners were cut so that the game could make its release. After all, working under a deadline can be quite pressing, especially when it's a game of large scope. That tight development schedule seems to have hurt The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and while there's still fun to be had, it stumbles over its own feet far too often.
Beenox, the developers behind Shattered Dimensions, Edge of Time, and a number of other games, returns to take the reins for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and, for the most part, has the basics nailed down. This is an open-world game where you can explore the city of New York, stopping petty crimes, visiting locales that tie in with the main story, and even swinging by the local comic book shop to see what figurines and comic books you've unlocked, based upon what you've collected throughout the city.
The most interesting aspect of Amazing Spider-Man 2 is being able to swing with either your left arm or right arm. At first glance, this adds a new depth of gameplay to Spidey, enabling him to swing with a bit more accuracy, particularly around turns. However, swinging can be its own worst enemy, as you're sometimes dragging along rooftops or glitching out as you run into walls. Still, when it works right, you actually feel like Spider-Man – which is a good thing.
The combat is fine, though not spectacular, and features Spidey knocking out enemies, using signature attacks and occasionally countering an incoming strike. It works on a basic level, and could have been a lot worse, but this is a far cry from the excellence seen in the Arkham Batman games.
Where Amazing Spider-Man 2 tends to drag is with its side segments. There are just too many of them, and too many of them don't work very well on a technical level. For instance, taking down a car full of thugs should be entertaining, but in this game it usually means frantically pressing buttons and trying to figure out why you're clipping through a bus -- and that only gets more frustrating once you've done similar things a dozen times before.
Then…there are the Peter Parker segments. These are just completely annoying, and their inclusion in the game is baffling; how many people will pick up this game because they're looking for a chance to play as Peter Parker? Rather than swinging through the city, Peter barely gets around, and has to spend his time asking a series of annoying questions just to fill in the backstory. The photography segments are pointless as well, and feature Peter criticizing the player's camera skills whenever they don't get an item perfectly in frame. Beenox should've done away with these segments altogether. The opening of Arkham City where players briefly play as Bruce Wayne wasn't something that needed to be copied and expanded, guys.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 does have some good content to offer, particularly when new villains enter the fray along with ones from the film. It was nice to see Venom again, even if his presence seems weaker here than in other games. Fans will enjoy seeing some of these faces again.
What they won't enjoy, however, are the glitches. Even though New York continues to look dazzling, there are too many circumstances where enemies blend into walls and swings go wildly out of control after Spider-Man hits a wall. The camera is actually the game's greatest threat, and it's easy to get confused and lost, which is obviously a huge problem on timed missions. Spider-Man is supposed to be able to sense danger, but in this game you'll struggle just to keep heading in the proper direction.
Here are the criteria I consider most important for judging The Amazing Spider-Man 2:
#1 Presentation – 6/10
A mostly remarkable looking New York City is present, but so are several glitches that should've been fixed before the game's release.
#2 Side content – 5/10
Another mixed bag. Some missions are great, but others, like the Peter Parker segments, were irritating and pointless.
#3 Gameplay – 7/10
The dual-swinging system is nice, but imperfect, and the combat is satisfactory, but hardly innovative.
#4 Unlockables – 8/10
Comic book fans will love unlocking interactive issues strewn across the city, and the figurines are pretty nice, too.
Overall score: 6.5
Unfortunately, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is far from Beenox's greatest effort. There are times that the superhero feeling is definitely there, but then we're brought right back down to Earth by annoying Peter Parker segments and bothersome glitches. The curse of the movie-licensed game strikes again. Here's hoping that we see something better once the next Spider-Man game hits the market.