Version tested: Xbox One
Also available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PC, Android, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U
Developer: Beenox, High Voltage Software, Gameloft
Several years ago, after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man revitalized the comic hero movie scene, there was a Spider-Man game released for Xbox that was pretty good. Open world web-slinging at it’s finest. And then they released an open-world(ish) Iron Man game (which won the award from GameStop for “Worst Game Everyone Played”). And then an open world Hulk game, set in the same New York that you were swinging through with Spidey a few years before. And they just. Kept. Doing it.
At first I thought I didn’t like this game because they’d veered too far from the original concept. But after playing for a while, I realized that the real problem was that they haven’t changed a thing since 2004.
Alright, maybe they changed one thing: they obviously care a lot less.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gives every impression that it’s the official game version of the movie. The title is the same, down to the sequel number and adjective. But it’s like the developers never got the memo that they had permission to use official movie-licensed stuff. Or maybe only half of them did.
First of all, none of the actors voiced their characters. That would have been forgivable ten years ago when video games were still considered beneath most screen actors (although the 2008 Iron Man game had RDJ and Terrance Howard). But these days everyone is getting in on game voicing. The voice cast of Destiny reads like a typical Hollywood blockbuster. Telltale’s Game of Thrones received high praise for bringing in their full TV show cast. Peter Dinklage is in both of those examples and he’s arguably one of the best and most respected actors in the world at the top of his popularity right now. So you’re telling me Andrew Garfield couldn’t be assed to lend his voice to this game?
I also want to mention that they were obviously trying to make the characters look JUST different enough that they didn’t have to pay the actors for their likenesses. So maybe they weren’t lazy or incompetent, just cheap. Look… I have no problem veering from the movie stuff for a game, but don’t market the game as a follow-up to the movie you just released and then take every aspect of the movie out of it.
Of all this (and I promise to stop railing against the movie/game differences and get to the deeper issues in a second), what really bugged me the most was that they had two versions of Electro. In some of the tangential stuff, we see the white guy in green tights with the ridiculous lightning mask.
Later on, you actually meet Max Dillon though, and he’s basically Jamie Foxx.
Oh, but they did get the obligatory Stan Lee cameo in, so there’s that.
Now for the deeper issues. Like I said earlier, I could get past the differences from the movie… If the game itself was good. But it is not.
The game starts with Uncle Ben’s murder (spoilers for a 3 year old movie and a 50 year old story line, by the way). In order to witness the murder, you have to slooooowly walk your way down the street. So the very first thing they do to the young and kinetic Peter Parker is turn him into a shambling zombie. It’s ok though, because once you’ve got the costume on, you apparently turn into the goddam Joker. Even when you’re talking to friendly characters, you’re bobbing and weaving like Mohammad Ali on coke.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 box promises a morality system that sounds like Fable or Skyrim. What they deliver on is pointless conversation options and GTA style “cops will hunt you down if you screw up.” There are side-quests all over the place, but there’s never any reason to do more than three at a time because that fills up your “just please don’t arrest me” bar.
There are photography missions where Peter has to take a picture of shady dealings that he will then investigate. That would have been a really neat idea, except that you take these picture of police and gangsters while standing directly in front of them in your Spider-Man costume.
There is no reason to be subtle or stealthy, which is good because the stealth system is difficult and cumbersome. Trying to get on a ledge to take pictures of guards without being detected (yeah you have to do that… sometimes)? Better not breath on your joystick or Spidey will swan dive off the building and teabag the guy you’re stalking.
And can we talk about button mashing on LB? I’m ok with quicktime events (as long as they stay the hell out of my boss battles, Halo 4 and Shadows of Mordor), but LB is probably the single worst button to make someone mash.
I am a firm believer in sandwich style criticism, so I’ll finish with some good things about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. They did a good job with the signature Spidey quips. The combat style is varied and fun to watch. And there are various unlockable comics that you can read in the game. I only got the first one, but it was a pretty solid Spider-Man vignette. The only reason I would even consider playing this game more is for the in-game comics.
So I guess my recommendation is to only get this game if you have read Spider-Man’s entire canon and don’t mind sitting through hours of a tedious, subpar cash grab in order to get a few solid comics.