Overstaying its Welcome: Amazing Spider-Man (the Video Game)

Like many out there, I went to theaters this past summer to see a superhero movie. No, I’m not talking about the Avengers or the Dark Knight Rises (both of which were better than the film I’m about to name), I’m talking Spider-Man and not just any: that shit was supposed to be Amazing. The Amazing Spider-Man may have felt more like a safely-plotted retelling of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man than a bold new imagining but it was still decent. Yes it was disappointing that human character Dr. Connors went full blown mustache-twirling super villain after his first transformation into the Lizard and true, Peter Parker really does come off as a total dick to Gwen Stacy at the end (break up with someone and refuse to be there for them during a traumatic death of a loved one, sure that relationship is healthy) but the Amazing Spider-Man was still a fun popcorn movie of the summer. Good news to all of you (maybe there are 5?) out there who can’t wait for the Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014: there is already a sequel.

The Amazing Spider-Man (video game), developed  by Quebec’s own Beenox, picks up several months after the first film ends. The plot is actually a fairly clever and believable tie-in to the movie. Oscorp, trying to capitalize on the Lizard formula, hires Alistair Smythe to oversee all future genetic experiments as well as helm the nanobot program. Anyone who has read the comics knows that shenanigans are coming and for those who haven’t, spoiler: shenanigans. Faced with a hybrid and nanobot menace, Peter and Dr. Connors join forces and fight for the fate of New York City. Great, that’s the plot but is it good?

Short answer: Eh, kinda? I’ve often heard Spider-Man 2 called the pinnacle of the Spider-Man video games. Personally I’m not sure why 2 is held at this level. In my mind it is a fun game but flawed. Really that is the same basic critique I would give to this new one. When I first started playing the Amazing Spider-Man, I was having a lot of fun with it. Then there came a point where I was ready for the game to end; problem was there was still several hours to go.

So what happened? How did it lose me? When did my smile turn into the face of frustration playing this game? The answer is obvious: when this game stopped giving me new challenges and instead recycled bosses into newer, more aggravating scenarios. That was the moment I cried foul.

Sometimes boss repetition can be fun. I remember always getting freaked out by the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. So why doesn’t it work here? I believe some bad design choices determined that. Let me throw you an example: fairly early on in the game, Spider-Man does battle with an evil killer robot called a Hunter (creative name right?). The Hunter is a fast, flying attack drone and the resulting gameplay is pretty fun. Web-zipping from building to building while attacking an aerial attack robot is an experience unique to the Spider-Man games. The Amazing Spider-Man then ups the challenge by throwing a giant metal snake at you: again awesome. What’s next game? A transformer? A giant robot hawk of some kind? Oh, oh three Hunters that’s… actually just kind of annoying.

The controls in this game are not the tightest. While that allows for some cool animation and a fun battle with one Hunter, three of them simply exposes  flaws in Spider-Man’s handling. It is frustrating to try and dodge so much while still attacking. If a new enemy was throwing that kind of challenge at me it would be one thing but these guys are anything but. It comes off as tedious to beat them and it feels lazy on the part of the developers. With all the Spider-Man villains, I have to fight this twice? Oh I also have to fight the Rhino, the Scorpion, and the Vermin multiple times as well? You can fuck off, game.

It’s not like the Amazing Spider-Man would have a short game with single encounters for these bosses, it’s not even like short games are necessarily bad (Luigi’s Mansion anyone?). An enjoyable six hours is always better than a mediocre eight or an oh-god-end ten. The Amazing Spider-Man is ultimately a movie tie-in so that cripples the storytelling. There is no way it can end doing anything too crazy cause odds are the no one making the Amazing Spider-Man 2 actually played this game. So I have a fun story but not one I can care too much about: perfect for a short game. It is really unfortunate that Beenox stretched things, otherwise I would be much more positive about this game. Heck I might even call it the best Spider-Man game ever (maybe)!

Want my advice? Play until you feel it. When the tedium comes, you’ll know. It will wash over your features, making you numb to whatever charms the game initially possessed. It sucks to leave a game with a crappy last impression (thank you Citadel for saving Mass Effect 3). Beenox deserves a pat on the back before the scolding. They did a good job… if only for six hours. Incidentally, there is a Wii U version of this game being released soon. Maybe that will fix some of the problems in the Xbox 360 build. Personally I kind of doubt it but you never know. I’m still trying to figure out why make this game on Wii U in the first place.

Thoughts? Comments? Am I full of shit or onto something? Let me know now in the feedback section of this article.

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