A swing and a miss: Amazing Spider-Man 2 reviewed

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Spider-Man has been around for a good number of years, and whether you like his seemingly cocky attitude or not, he isn’t going anywhere soon. To coincide with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film, the multiplatform action-adventure video game also hit shelves earlier this month. While the franchise has raked in millions overs the decades, is the video game adaptation on par?

The short answer: well, no – not exactly. Developed by Beenox, the studio doesn’t exactly have a stellar record when it comes to churning out blockbusters. Responsible for original titles such as Guitar Hero Smash Hits, Monsters vs. Aliens and Pillars of Garendall, they have been at the helm of Spider-Man adaptations since 2010’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.

Setting the scene

Players take on the titular role of Peter Parker as he (naturally) has to save New York City from the evils of some mean-spirited gangsters. Although this is the second Amazing Spider-Man film and video game, gamers are again taken through the scenario of how he got his powers and the tragic events of Uncle Ben’s curb-side demise.

It all seems a bit unnecessary though, as almost every film adaption or original video game tends to show why Parker took up the cause of fighting crime in the Big Apple. If fans of the franchise don’t know by now, then they shouldn’t be playing the titles…

After web swinging around for a couple of missions, Parker is contacted by Kraven the Hunter, who claims that he will be able to assist Parker in honing his skills, e.g. making him a better tracker of bad guys. That sets up the rest of the title through a flimsy plot, where Spider-Man gets to fight Russian mobsters, battle Black Cat and go after a creep called Kingpin. There is also the Green Goblin, The Burglar, Electro and The Chameleon to keep Spider-Man entertained.

Some of the fighting is electrifying
Some of the fighting is electrifying

Such a beautiful city

While the cityscapes can be pretty at times, the game is let down by the marginally-acceptable graphics during the cutscenes. Don’t get us wrong – the overall standard of the game isn’t that bad, but it could have been a lot better.

There almost seems to be no balance between what Beenox deemed important elements and what they considered secondary. What you then get is a mish-mash of graphics that are good at certain points, but atrocious at others.

A good example of this is when Spider-Man blissfully (that is a lie – it’s actually frustrating) swings across the skyscrapers. The rest of the city in the distant view can almost make gamers forget that they are in a Spider-Man game, as it could also be the setting for another graphically-intensive title.  But then on the other side, the visuals during the cut-scenes and hand-to-hand combat are choppy, pixelated at times, and rife with bugs.

More emphasis has also been placed on a virtual reconstruction of Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. Compared to any other character in the title, Lee’s in-game face is an almost prefect replica, where general thugs in the game were designed lacking many important features.

It is a good day for skydiving

Controlling a spider

Taking on the same control scheme as the previous Amazing Spider-Man game, not much has changed. But a number of small tweaks meant to make the title flow a bit better has actually hampered any real progress.

A new web-slinging mechanic has been introduced, but instead of being easier, players will now be questioned by Spider-Man about their aiming proficiency. To swing seamlessly throughout New York City, players have to aim and pull the left and right triggers in quick succession – one controlling the left hand, while the other controls the right.

It becomes a bit frustrating when the aiming isn’t exactly on a building, as Spider-Man will then quip that there needs to be a building to swing – while happily plummeting down to the busy streets below. Luckily there isn’t any fall-damage, as he wouldn’t have made it past the first chapter.

But when players do manage to hook onto the side of an office block, trying to keeping a solid momentum going should result in getting to the destination. Not feeling the need to swing around? Well, Spider-Man can naturally crawl up and down the side of buildings, but this will make gamers so dizzy that they might suffer from vertigo.

The wall-climbing controls are incredibly sensitive, and Parker will make a 360-degree turn even before reaching the first floor. Coupled with inconsistent camera angles, it’s just a disaster and should be avoided if possible.

Web-slinging will be a source of frustration
Web-slinging will be a source of frustration

On the bright side…

While the game centres on the usually-good Spider-Man, gamers also have the choice of being completely villainous. Throughout the title, players will be asked to do various side-missions (which are unrelated to the main story). By completing these missions his Hero points will increase, but completely ignore the cries for help from the general public, and his Villain points will increase.

What is one of the most annoying cutscenes in the entire game, is the constant crossing over to reporter Whitney Chang as she brings gamers a “live” update on what Spider-Man did or didn’t do. Imagine viewing three of her live crossings in 20 minutes without having the option to skip the cutscene…

On the bright side, the game incorporates an RPG element into it, where Spider-Man can increase his powers and abilities through upgrading each one. This is down through leveling up by defeating street muggers, petty thieves and the more dangerous enemies along the plot.

Sticking to the shadows might be he's best bet
Sticking to the shadows might be he’s best bet


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could have been a really cool game, if the implementation was handled a little bit better. The idea is great, but unfortunately the game does suffer from the curse that video games based on films are usually sub-par.

Batman fans might actually enjoy this title, as the fighting mechanics were practically lifted from Arkham Asylum or Arkham City – even down to the little lightning bolts that appear above Spider-Man’s head when he needs to dodge.

Spider-Man usually does all the saving, but beautiful cityscapes are unfortunately not enough to save Spider-Man himself. With inconsistent camera angles, overly-sensitive (or sometimes sticky) controls and mixed graphical capabilities, this one might be better suited to serve as light entertainment on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 is now available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and retails for around R600.

Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.