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The Amazing Spider-Man

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Free-Roaming/ Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The Amazing Spider-Man looks really good on the 360. The movie isn't out yet, but from what I've seen on the various trailers and spy shots of the costume, the game seems to be dead-on. There are two different versions of the default costume available from the beginning; one with and one without a matching belt. There is no functional difference, so it's a matter of taste, really.

The voicework is nicely done in The Amazing Spider-Man and there is enough variation in the chatter that I wasn't annoyed by hearing the same comments repeated too often. To give additional feel for the living, breathing metropolis around you, the loading screens feature a "Voices of Manhattan" feed that is, essentially, a simulated Twitter feed that reflects the feelings of the people of Manhattan. While some of these were a bit contrived (such as the gentleman who had been bit and felt the need to type out twice that he had been bit - and had the username, "Outch"), it did a good job of setting a background and sort of pinning the current action somewhere on the outbreak timeline.

It seems that with the introduction of the Arkham-line of Batman games and the last few Spider-Man games, each has gone back and forth trying to top each other. Surprisingly, the type of game is quite similar, from a high-tech view with the ability to "see" enemies through walls and the use of stealth take-downs (from above, even). I don't know that I would say that The Amazing Spider-Man tops Arkham City; it seems like it's a little shorter, for one, but it is beautiful and it's Spider-Man roaming around Manhattan, which is pretty sweet.

One nice feature is the inclusion of eight pivotal comic books in digitized form, courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics. As you roam around Manhattan, you will have the opportunity to collect Comic Book Pages which are either sitting stationary or being blown about the city's skyline. With a keen eye and a few aerobatic maneuvers, your collection will be on its way. There are a total of 500 comic pages to locate and collect, but you'll unlock a new comic book at several checkpoints along the way. These comics include the first appearance of Spider-Man, the first appearance of The Lizard, a modern re-interpretation of The Lizard, the first appearance of Gwen Stacy, the first appearance of The Scorpion, the first appearance of The Rhino, the first appearance of The Iguana and the first appearance of Vermin, to name a few.


The Amazing Spider-Man picks up after the events of the movie. So, um... if a few spoilers would ruin the movie for you, don't play this game until you've seen the movie. I will try not to give away anything too devastating in this review...

You're The Amazing Spider-Man, a teenage superhero trying to save the city from a mutagenic viral outbreak. It's an advanced form of the serum that turned Doctor Connors into The Lizard, but it's not just a little "off," it's out of control and is spreading across Manhattan, pandemic-style. Not only that, but Oscorp is ground zero and Gwen's life is on the line. The only option you can think of is to get Doctor Connors to help you develop an antidote. It's a shame that in the process of liberating Doctor Connors from an inconvenient incarceration, you accidentally free all of the mental patients from Beloit Mental Institution (Oops). Well, now you get to round them up and return them in your abundant spare time.

With Doctor Connors away from Oscorp, Alistair Smythe has been vying for lead scientist, putting a lot of research into his robots and nanotechnology. He's built robots that can sense cross-species organism, which includes those infected with this viral outbreak and, oh yeah, anyone who happens to have, say, the proportional strength of a spider. Great; you'll have to worry about the problem and the solution, now.

The stage is set. You must complete a series of missions in order to try to save Gwen and the rest of Manhattan. These missions pit you against increasingly difficult cross-species as well as robotic hunters. Along the way, there are chances to thwart petty criminals, help put quick ends to car chases, drop in from a helicopter to stop some heavily-armed opportunists and, of course, to collect comic book pages around the city. There are also some opportunities to do some photojournalism and even some extreme videography. Actually, the videography gameplay was a bit strange; the setup led me to believe it would be a timed race sort of event, but in actuality, Spider-Man runs the race on his own, and you have to keep a quadrocopter-based camera trained on him, to capture the web-head's smooth moves. There's a lot of variation here, if you're not trying to just crash your way through the story.

Actually, even if you attempt to simply do the major story missions, around half-way through the game, you'll get to a part where you have to give Doc Connors time to finish what he's working on, so this is an excellent opportunity to save some infected citizens or fight some crime. Yes, it's about that time.

Those who pre-order The Amazing Spider-Man through Amazon receive a voucher for the Stan Lee Adventure Pack, which allows you to play as Stan "The Man" Lee, himself - but with all of Spider-Man's powers. It's a good thing too, as Stan Lee's latest script just blew out the window and he's got to start web-slinging to recover all of the pages. Stan Lee actually does the voice-work for this DLC.


The Amazing Spider-Man has three difficulty levels: Human, Hero and Superhero. While I think the three difficulty levels provide a good variety of difficulty options, I think the naming convention is going to lead a few people to higher difficulty settings than they need to be on. I started at Hero, but it took staring at the difficulty level selection screen for a few minutes to convince myself to do so.

When I play free-roaming games, such as The Amazing Spider-Man, I typically end up spending a lot of time simply checking out the city, rather than doing the story missions. I would likely try to find every last comic book page before I had done more than a handful of missions. To each his own, right?

Well, this review came with a hard deadline, so my scowling editor (we'll just call her 'A. A. Ameson') expected me to make my way through the story, rather than dilly-dallying around. So, that's how I played, at first. The culmination of my efforts, however, is that as I got close to half-way through, I started encountering some really difficult parts. I couldn't get past this one fight, then I couldn't clear out this one area, then I couldn't get past the fight against the Iguana. It began to get frustrating. It wasn't until I talked with Starscream that I realized it was difficult because I hadn't been doing any of the sidestory day-to-day crime-fighting. Missing out on that experience had left me weaker than I should have been by that point. Sadly, before I achieved enlightenment, I dropped my difficulty level down from Hero to Human.

As you play through The Amazing Spider-Man, you earn experience points (XP). These experience points go toward you leveling up and leveling up lets you choose additional enhancements. Additionally, when you see generic high-tech parts, you can collect these for "Tech Points," which can be spent to purchase upgrades to your suit. The system works well, but bear in mind that if the missions are getting too challenging, you might want to do some do-gooding around the city to build up your abilities a bit before get back to advancing the storyline.

Web Strikes and Stealth Take-downs are both initiated by the Right Shoulder Button, with the Left Shoulder Button providing a hasty retreat. With just these two buttons, some areas can be cleared reasonably easily: Simply crawl around on the ceiling, remaining undetected until you can use a Stealth attack on one or two of the enemies, then as soon as you're back up at the ceiling, use a couple of hasty retreats to get out-of-sight, then select your next victim. This doesn't work everywhere, but I was surprised at how often it worked like a charm.

Also, make good use of the Web Rush feature (again, Right Shoulder Button, but when you're not targeting an enemy); you can use this to get around by targeting your destination, which is much less chaotic than typical web-slinging around the smaller interior environments. It also comes in handy when zipping around Manhattan - especially for collecting those darn comic book pages.

Game Mechanics:

Web swinging is handled nicely in The Amazing Spider-Man; Spidey swings around fairly easily with just the use the Right Shoulder Button, but you have some control over how fast and how high you go based on when you choose to release the button, as well as by using the (A) button when swinging around Manhattan. Wilder swings and higher altitudes will result in Spider-Man whooping and hollering, enhancing the feeling of swinging quickly and adding a nice dynamic touch.

Web Rush is the new Web Zip, but it comes with a feature that slows down time to simulate Spidey's focus, allowing you to pick-and-choose your targets / destinations with more accuracy. This time dilation effect only lasts for a certain duration each time you use Web Rush, but this duration can be increased as an upgrade. I often found it quite useful to use the Web Rush feature to zip toward one spot, then in mid flight, use the Web Rush feature again to change directions. This is especially useful in keeping certain enemies from hitting you while you wait for an opportunity to Web Strike them in the head. When the area around you is toxic and there are just a few safe places to be - simply target them, one after the other, with your Web Rush, then start targeting the next before you actually land on the safe part, for no fuss, no muss - and no intermediate stops.

There are some places in The Amazing Spider-Man where the standard free-roaming movement is replaced with a very specific control scheme. Some of these seem more contrived and limiting than others, but in general, they all seem to interrupt the flow a bit. For example, when Spidey returns to the apartment between missions, you can't make him simply walk around the apartment. Instead, you can only make him turn left or right to access the different actions that can be done in the apartment, such as changing costume, talking to Doctor Connors or looking over your case files on the levels completed so far. Another example is when you use your webbing to form a web and sense vibrations down several halls in order to determine where the baddy is. The first time you encounter this game mechanic, it's automatically started, but each time afterward, you have to select to use it, so it's not as jarring, then.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man is a great game, and an obvious addition to the collection of any gamers who are Spidey fans. This game gets a lot right, and provides a lot of web-swinging and slinging action. But, don't actually play the game until you've seen the movie...

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Related Links:

iPad Deadly Association Nintendo 3DS The Amazing Spider-Man

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