Monday, 20 August 2012

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (PS3)

Following the immensely successful open-world Batman: Arkham City game last year, it isn't a surprise that the not-quite movie tie-in The Amazing Spider-Man would sling itself in the same direction: placing a popular superhero in an open world with the freedom to either follow the game's storyline or explore and free-roam through Manhattan, in search of side missions and collectibles.

While there's a lot that works well in the web-slinger game that sets its main story in the months following the events that occurred in the recent movie, there's a lack of any real challenge during battles, repetitive gameplay and even more repetitive enemies, and side missions that nearly all tend to be too short or too tedious.

Gwen Stacy has a sneaking suspicion something's awry at Oscorp once more, and with the help of Peter Parker, they discover her suspicion was indeed correct: Alistair Smythe, Oscorp's new director, has continued the cross-species experiments that led to the main conflict in the film between Spider-Man and the Lizard, the transformed Dr. Curt Connors. To stop Smythe and save Gwen and all the other Manhattanites that become infected with the cross-species virus erringly unleashed by Oscorp, Spider-Man must enlist the help of his one-time enemy, Connors, who has been locked up in his non-Lizard form in the asylum since being defeated by Spider-Man. Spidey must free Connors from his incarceration, and in the process lets out nearly the entire legion of bats-in-the-belfry loonies.

Helping Connors escape, assisting in his race for the cure to the devastating virus spreading throughout Manhattan and more importantly to Peter Parker, threatening the life of Gwen Stacy, and finally defeating Smythe by thwarting his plan for domination, forms the structure of the game's storyline. However, just like Batman Arkham City, when gamers decide to undertake story missions is all up to the individual gamer, due to the open-world sort-of sandbox gameplay.

The Amazing Spider-Man entices gamers to explore the streets and skyscrapers of Manhattan with a handful of side missions. It's great having open-ended freedom to web-explore, but unfortunately the missions (rescuing civilians from attackers, taking sick civilians to medical tents, recapturing asylum patients, police car chases, assisting in police shootouts, doing extreme tricks) are all too easy to complete, especially after Spider-Man has built up his Spidey powers to their pinnacle. There is a relatively long single-player story to complete, although it's not as interesting as it could have been, as enemies become far too repetitious throughout and much too easy to defeat, from muggers to guards in Oscorp locations. Side missions add to that gameplay total, but not as much as one may anticipate. Most are very brief breaks from the single-player story, ending way too quickly to really be enjoyed.

By collecting points by defeating enemies and gathering the stray comic book pages spread throughout Manhattan (which give power-up points as well as unlock full editions of classic Spider-Man comics), Spider-Man can increase his powers such as his web strength, his attacks and other abilities. Once those powers are increased, it becomes too effortless to bash down bad guys.

One aspect that is easy that is a very big bonus to the gameplay is the very good web-slinging controls that The Amazing Spider-Man utilizes. Traveling around by web is generally uncomplicated and the game is very good at the handling of building collisions, where Spider-Man will simply run up the side of any building he collides with instead of getting frustratingly stuck against those same building walls. Another great control feature is the Web Rush, which gives gamers solid directional control as to where Spider-Man wants to go or who/what he wants to attack/interact with. By directing the controller toward certain environmental points like light posts or the sides of walls, a yellow silhouette of Spider-Man appears while in temporary Web Rush mode, giving gamers a clear, concise idea exactly where they will land.

The Amazing Spider-Man tries very hard to emulate Batman Arkham City, but despite solid controls, especially the well-designed Web Rush, and a good amount of single-player gameplay, the open-world concept doesn't offer much else in the form of any kind of really challenging gameplay and engaging side-mission variety as its obvious inspiration, the award-winning Batman Arkham City.

The Good:
‑ Allows for open-ended web-slinging throughout Manhattan, with hidden items (comic book pages) to collect and missions to complete
‑ Traveling around by web is generally very easy and the game has a very good handling of building collisions
‑ Plenty of main story missions and plenty of hours of gameplay to complete the entire single-player story arc
‑ Web Rush gives gamers solid directional control as to where Spider-Man wants to go or who/what he wants to attack/interact with

The Bad:
‑ Enemies become way too repetitious throughout and much too easy to defeat, from muggers to guards in Oscorp locations
‑ Side missions too easy to complete, especially for a fully-powered Spider

Score: 7.5 / 10