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The Amazing Spider-Man

Score: 68%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The Amazing Spider-Man starts with a disappointing static cut-scene. Itís a picture of Spider-Man talking to a man named Dr. Connors in what looks like a prison cell. Itís the kind of thing that just screams at you that the Wii port got the short end of the stick again. The strange thing is, this cut-scene spontaneously becomes animated after the first level, adding inconsistency to the quality problems of the game. The graphics arenít too bad, but they again have that typical cut-corners look that you find in Wii ports. Itís got the typical sparse backgrounds, itís not big on details, and not big on shadows and lighting. The Spider-Man model stands out as a little more detailed than say, the thugs and other fodder enemies, and his lighting does seem a little better; however, he lacks the detailed cuts, bleeding, and suit damage youíll see in this game on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of this game. His suit colors also seem a bit muddy, and I have to wonder if that's because of the attempt to put the webbed texture on top of the suit.

Ugh, this Spider-Manís one liners are pretty groan-worthy. Itís just not the same kind of underdog snappy humor weíve heard from him in the past. Itís... well, just a guy spouting one-liners. At one point, Spider-Man mentions friend requests and later makes a reference to ďDonít tase me, bro!Ē Itís trying so hard to be hip and current, but misses the timing for the jokes by about 5 years. The rest of it is full of puns, and hardly ever seems like the smart, self-deprecating, self-aware Peter Parker weíre used to. Of course, this is a game based on a reboot movie of the Spider-Man series, so Iíve yet to see if this is accurate to its source material. Standing on its own, however, itís a bit disappointing.

The music is very repetitive, and has a very ďhey itís movie music, youíre in a movie, wow!Ē kind of feel. Itís an orchestral score, but just not very tuned to the action. Itís the kind of music that makes you want to get out of the room youíre in as quickly as possible after a few repeats.


Gameplay:

If you hadnít guessed, The Amazing Spider-Man is a Wii game based off the upcoming movie directed by Marc Webb. You play as Peter Parker, the young student who inherits the abilities of a spider and becomes a superhero. The lore and the backstory are all assumptions when you start this game. You actually seem to start the game after the events of the first movie have concluded. That means this game is a bit of a spoilerville to those who have not seen the movie (which is everyone at this point). You end up tackling more of Oscorpís demons in this game, which involves experiments on monsters called ďcross-species.Ē Whatís more, good old Peter is considered a cross-species to the Oscorp robots, so he fights an ongoing, two-sided battle. Heís got to fight another PR battle as well, since he has to enlist the help of a former villain and terror to the city. Breaking a monster out of a mental facility tends to make you unpopular with the public (and with the girlfriend).

After the first few levels, you end up in an apartment as your homebase. You select missions from a board, and you can occasionally get a phone call or talk to Dr. Connors. The other console versions of this game arenít very open-world either, but the Wii version takes that limitation to extremes.

Letís get straight to it, you want to know what the web-slinging is like. Well, the good news is, you donít have to flail the remote every time you want to swing. Itís a single button press and a direction that will get you where you want to go. But the bad news is, Spider-Man does appear to bounce around with little weight or realism to his actions. Also, unlike the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions of this game, thereís no free-roaming the city to swing wherever you want. Thatís right, youíre pretty much locked into alleyways and science labs in the Wii version, while there are classic New York city environments in the other versions for you to explore. The Wii versionís web-slinging feels a lot less like web-slinging, and more like a web bungee system (he never really lets go of the thread long enough to give that feeling of flight). In the few parts where you're allowed out buildings and out into the city, you're trapped in a big invisible box and not given much freedom to enjoy the web-slinging time.

Shortcuts in the Wii version of this game are almost too numerous to list. Remember that static opening scene where you get a still-frame of Peter talking to Connors? On the 360 version, the camera pans across a prison cell wall covered in black marker written equations. It lends a bit of mystery to the scene, and adds that hint that Peter needs a scientist, a smart guy, later on in this story. When youíre about to load the level, you also get a small background story explanation, letting you know a little more about the scene the next level is going to set up for you. Itís remarkable how the choice of a bit of movement and just a different image can set the scene and the mood in a totally different way. Even the difficulty selection screen has a rushed feel. Before you start your game, youíre asked to choose between Hero, Superhero, and Human. Sure, itís fairly easy to guess what this means when youíre forced to choose between 3 different things at the beginning of the game, but still, they could have put one line of text at the top that said ďdifficulty selectionĒ like you get in the other console versions. Itís like they got the game functioning and then started stamping discs the next day.

When you get down to it, this is a basic beat-em-up game. You can upgrade and purchase new abilities with experience points, which does give the game a little bit more depth and variety. There are also little side-quests like taking pictures, but itís not a huge mechanic the game hinges on. There are some special powers that make this game a little easier, and perhaps a littler more interesting, including the Web Rush. It's a kind of concentration mode that lets you slow down time, pick a destination, and then rapidly move there or perform an action like a stealth attack.


Difficulty:

The puzzles in The Amazing Spider-Man are extremely frustrating very early on, but not because theyíre particularly hard or complex, just because they make no sense. Youíre faced with security grids early on in the game. They have a subtle weak spot that scrolls through them, but you could easily mistake this for just the way the pattern is set up and the limitations on the Wii graphics. And youíre given grids that you can rush through at first, but later, youíre suddenly not allowed, and deemed too slow, so you have to find an alternate way through them. This is the same time youíre presented with security consoles that you need to enter numbers into. At first, I was searching around, trying to see if I missed a code or a clue somewhere. But then I went back to the console and, wait, no. It canít be that easy. The code flashes on the keypad when you first look at it. Cue facepalm.

Basically, a good deal of the difficulty lies in the mind tricks this game tends to play on you. You never know if youíre going to be handed the solution on a platter, or if itís going to be a split-second, hair-trigger reaction thatís going to get you through the next stage. And later in the game, the stages start to look so bland and similar, itís difficult to figure out where you need to go next, especially when you can crawl on the ceiling and walls, dramatically changing your view.


Game Mechanics:

The Amazing Spider-Man has some control issues, but nothing that makes the game totally unplayable. Clunky controls make fights last way longer than they reasonably should. It just doesnít feel as responsive as it should, and despite a couple of control schemes to choose from, I didnít feel comfortable with either of them. I always wanted the camera button to be more accessible, but then it made the rest of the core controls more awkward. The camera is also a constant nemesis, and feels like it takes some wrangling to get it to look the way you want to look, making you feel like youíre playing the game with blinders on your peripheral vision. Thereís also no cursor reset to place the cursor in the center of the screen, so if you end up with an awkward angle because of your living room setup, be prepared for some hand cramps.

Again, as bad as that sounds, the game is definitely playable, if just for the satisfaction of getting through the game to say you beat it, and learning where the story goes. And thereís no awkward waggle controls, just a quick twitch to escape or to dodge, and thatís it. I just couldnít get into it when there was a far superior version waiting on a shelf just above my Wii. Perhaps the day will come when the Wii gets itís own customized version of a popular game like this, but for now, this is another sad, rushed port.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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