Spider-Man's greatest nemesis isn't Scorpion, Rhino or Lizard. It's expectation. Beenox's last two Spidey games were by no means bad, but since they didn't stack up to idealised memories of Treyarch's Spider-Man 2, or meet the impossibly high bar set by Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham series, they're looked upon unfavourably. The studio's third effort has an even bigger obstacle to overcome. Few movie tie-ins prove to be worth their salt, that goes double for those based on superheroes.
So it's a pleasant surprise to discover that the developer has delivered a game that, if not amazing, goes a bit further than merely adequate. By absolutely nailing web-slinging and liberally cribbing from Batman's last two acclaimed games it has put together a game all but the most pedantic web-heads will love.
The most enjoyable part of the game is swinging, a mostly thoughtless process executed by holding RT to latch onto a conveniently omnipresent surface above. Picking when to let go and spin a new line adds some depth by affecting speed, angle and height, but it's not a skill that needs to be mastered.
Despite the lack of nuance, swinging around the open-world remains exhilarating throughout the 12 or so hours of the campaign. This is thanks to a camera that sticks close to our hero as he confidently leaps, flips and pirouettes around the skies. Let the friendly neighbourhood vigilante freefall and the camera will jostle, the world will blur and the sound of rushing wind will become louder and harsher as he cuts through the air. There's a real satisfying sense of momentum that'll have you grinning along with Spidey's gleeful hollers.
On the rare occasion where there's nothing to swing from, Web Rushing comes into play. Holding RB slows the game to a crawl, allowing Spidey to pick a point in the immediate environment. Let go and he'll hightail it there with a flamboyance only he's capable of; skittering across cars, gliding along walls, swinging around poles and pinballing up buildings along the way.
The game offers up plenty of side-missions such as beating up thugs, snapping pictures and recapturing escaped asylum patients, but these present no challenge or worthy reward and in fact dilute a surprisingly well written and tightly scripted campaign.
Main missions take place in confined rooms, and like Batman require you to dispense with thugs before moving on to another room and repeating. Similarities to the Dark Knight's games continue with the chain building and counter-heavy combat. Executing Spidey's luchador-inspired moves might not require as much finesse but they're way more stunning to behold.
Unfortunately Spidey is a bit too powerful and can quickly tear through groups of enemies without much resistance. Stronger enemies that manage to stand their ground can easily be knocked out by lobbing objects from the environment at them. As a result the game is far too easy, even on the hardest difficulty setting.
The game has plenty of other small issues, chief of which is that Manhattan at a ground level is not very pleasant. NPCs have clumsy AI routines, cars are driven by ghosts and even the visual fidelity takes a hit. But since the game is predicated on swinging, which it does very well, these small missteps don't stop The Amazing Spider-Man from hitting its stride. This is definitely the wall-crawler's best game in years.
Finally, a game that does Spider-Man justice
- Exciting swinging
- Well told story
- Web Rush is a smart addition
- Too easy
- Inconsequential, boring side-missions