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The Amazing Spider-Man

Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

I have to admit, I was impressed with how good The Amazing Spider-Man looks. There are a few noticeable cut corners, but overall the game is as close as you’ll get to the console versions on a handheld. Spider-Man, in particular, looks great as he zips around levels. Some of the sudden, mid-air turns match what I’ve seen in the trailers perfectly, particularly when you’re in wide-open environments against giant enemies.

On the downside, wide-open areas are rare. Most of your time is spent in sewers/ subway tunnels teeming with green ooze and office buildings. Neither environment looks impressive or offers any variety. Rooms look identical, and that visual sameness will lead to unintended backtracking.

The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the few games in my 3DS collection that looks slightly better played in 3D mode. Everything looks better with the added depth, so if you can stand it, I recommend at least playing with the slider on “half.” The camera can, however, lead to some eye straining moments.

Audio is, for the most part, fine. You don’t get the film’s cast, but the stand-ins do a well-enough job. My only complaint is Spider-Man’s constant quips. True, it is part of the character, but he won’t shut up. Worse, he only has 2-3 things to say. Some of the pop culture references try a little too hard – but that is more of a personal quibble.


Gameplay:

The Amazing Spider-Man is a follow-up, not a re-telling. If you are avoiding spoilers, hold off playing the game until after you see the movie.

The 3DS version eschews the open-world gameplay found in the console versions in favor of a “Mission Board,” which acts as a central hub location. Missions are split into two types: Story and Challenge. Story missions, as you probably guessed, progress the story involving Spider-Man trying to fend off the spread of a virus turning people into animals. The plot riffs ever-so-slightly on the “Spider Island” plotline from the comics, and works well enough, but comes off as a bit flat. Still, it shepherds you around the world and offers some sort of direction.

I had more fun going through Challenge missions. Some pit you against a timer, asking you to defeat a set number of enemies or just to survive, while others test your ability to stealthily take out enemies. There isn’t much to the missions story-wise, but the combat system (even with its flaws) is fun enough that I enjoyed webbing around enemies and posting high combo chains.

Unfortunately, these missions aren’t endless. I was able to complete all of the challenges very early in the game, leaving me with the not-as-fun story missions and an incredibly out of whack difficulty curve as my reward (and an unlockable suit).

Missions are generally straightforward, but offer some room for exploration. You’ll find several XP-boosting items, as well as audio logs offering more backstory on characters and events. Most items are in the open, but a few are tucked away. Finding everything isn’t necessary, but you’ll want to find as many Tech XP boosts as you can. Tech XP boosts let you upgrade Spider-Man’s suit abilities and are relatively rare. Normal XP is, on the other hand, handed out for everything.


Difficulty:

Story missions are fun, and offer some tricky web-based puzzles built around the “Web Rush” mechanic. At the same time, they’re easily completed if you can work around a handful of mechanical goofs.

Spider-Man’s greatest foe throughout the entire game is the camera, something Spider-Man developers seem to have the biggest problem getting right. The camera is completely playable, though it does swing into extreme angles during combat. Most combat deaths were due to me simply not seeing an enemy because I was fiddling with the D-pad to make adjustments. On the plus side, enemies aren’t that bright. Unless you are in their face, some will completely ignore you.

Webbing and wall crawling really throws the camera for a loop. While crawling in a straight line on the ceiling, the controls would reverse. Up was down, left was right. It is a pain, especially when you need to navigate around hazards or assess enemy placement during stealth sections. The problem can be fixed with adjustments, but hobbles the fluidity of getting around environments.

Once I had access to Challenge missions, I spent an hour or so going through them, earning enough XP to purchase most of the early power upgrades. Challenge missions offered a relatively consistent challenge, but with the upgrades, I blasted through most combat situations. The only equalizer was the camera.


Game Mechanics:

Based on early descriptions, I wasn’t sure of the Web Rush mechanic, but it is easily one of the game’s best features. Pressing (X) slows time, allowing Spider-Man the chance to quickly zipline to any spot in the environment. It is primarily used to get to specific locations, though I found it more useful as a combat mechanic. The Amazing Spider-Man likes to toss several enemies your way in any given fight. Usually you’re at the mercy of the targeting system; you punch whomever the game decides to should punch. Web Rush offers some control, allowing you to target specific enemies (i.e. anyone with a projectile weapon). It is also a good way to quickly get out of crowds and spread out enemies.

I like how well Web Rush is incorporated into levels. It is a good way to get around navigation issues presented by the game’s visual sameness. If you see a Web Rush icon, that’s where you need to go. However, I did hit a few snags in some puzzle areas. At one point, I had to web up two electric transformers. The Web Rush symbol showed up, but the game wouldn’t allow me to use the mechanic until I backed myself in a corner. This happens a lot, particularly in later missions, leading to cheap deaths or confusion as to what you’re supposed to do next.

Combat takes several cues from the two Batman Arkham games, but lacks strategic depth. Timed strikes are important, but button-mashing can usually nab you a double-digit combo modifier. Once you pass 10x (8x with an upgrade), you can unleash Signature Moves after a hit or two, quickly ending any fight. Later enemies require some strategy, such as jumping over them, but with a few key upgrades (which you can earn early on with little trouble) these fights aren’t a big deal. There are new moves to unlock, though I mostly used them because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to during fights.

The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t without a few technical goofs. In addition to points where Web Rush refused to recognize a Rush Point, I ran into at least two lock-ups. While climbing through air vents with T-junctions, I sometimes warped into the air duct’s wall and was stuck.

Even when limited to handhelds, The Amazing Spider-Man will not go down as one of the great superhero games. But, even with its issues, it is still a solid game if you absolutely must have an on-the-go Spider-Man game.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 The Amazing Spider-Man Sony PlayStation 3 The Amazing Spider-Man

 
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