The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review
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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Box Art
System: PC, PS3*, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U
Dev: Beenox
Pub: Activision
Release: April 29, 2014
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Doesn’t Do Whatever a Spider Can
by Angelo M. D’Argenio

Movie licensed video games don’t just suck, it’s more complicated than that. More often than not, they are depressingly mediocre. You can’t make a Transformers game a generic shooter. Players want to be transforming into cars! You can’t make a Ratatouille game a generic platformer. Players want to be… cooking or something. Similarly, you can’t make The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a generic open world action game. People want to be swinging on webs and crawling up walls. Unfortunately, that’s the biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. While the action is solid enough, the Spideyness of it all just doesn’t work.

Here’s an example. One of the biggest complaints about previous Spider-Man games, and Spider-Man in general, is that sometimes it seems as if he is swinging on nothing whatsoever. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tries to fix this by making it so that Spidey can only swing when there is very obviously a building to swing off of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really do this well. There are plenty of missions where Spidey has to swing over water and for some reason he can do so just fine, while there are other missions where Spidey has to swing down an alley but for some reason the game doesn’t recognize there being a point to swing off of. In practice, this means that you never know exactly when you can and can’t webswing, and that’s frustrating.

As for swinging itself, the camera loves to twist around you with every swing so that you get the most dramatic movie style shot possible. Unfortunately, this is absolute garbage for navigating a city. You’ll see the mini-map spin like crazy in the lower left hand corner after a particularly impressive web swing, which means you now have to reorient yourself, while midair, and swinging on webs at the same time.

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Aside from the web-swing, Spidey can web zip over to structures as well. Doing so causes the game to go into slow motion for you to choose a target, which is hard to find because it’s only outlined by a faint shine, and totally breaks up the flow of the game. You can quick zip, bypassing the slow motion, but doing so makes Spidey zip to a random zip point somewhere around him, sometimes in a totally random direction that is nowhere near where you want to go. Even more frustrating is that this zip ability is basically needed for some of the timed missions of the game. A lot of times it felt like success or failure came down to whether or not the controls wanted to cooperate with me.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Screenshot

Basically everything else spider related just isn’t fun. Wall crawling makes spidey jitter in weird ways, and prevents him from entering certain windows and doors that he needs to in order to complete missions. The in-combat web abilities are weak and unwieldy to use, and are nowhere near as effective as simply mashing the attack button. Spidey sense barely makes a showing, and you’ll routinely find yourself mobbed by opponents and dying in cheap ways.

Speaking of combat, it feels like the combat system was designed to be generic. You have an attack, defend, web ball and jump button. However, as I said before, the only button you really use is the attack button. Simply mashing attack for days will get you through most battles. You can level spidey up and increase his abilities but nothing you do feels like it has any appreciable effect on combat. The same strategies that you used in the beginning of the game will be the ones you use at the end of the game, which can make combat start to feel stale.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Screenshot

There is a new “heroism” system which allows you to become either a hero or menace through your actions. However, for the life of me I could not actually tell what this does. It didn’t appear as if different missions or abilities open up depending on whether or not you are a hero or menace. It didn’t appear as if people reacted very different to Spidey either. It just seems like it’s a bar that fills up for the sake of filling up. Supposedly this changes how people react to you in the open world but, honestly, I rarely noticed.

Then there’s the story, which actually isn’t that bad. Unfortunately, it’s not the story of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, if you can believe all the movie reviews out there. Instead, it’s kind of just a generic Spider-Man story, like you would expect from the comics or the animated TV series. On a glance, it would be difficult to tell that this had anything to do with the movie franchise. Spider-Man looks and sounds completely different and even has a completely different personality. He’s snarkier this time around, which is a huge improvement and makes the game feel a lot more like it’s representing the spidey we all know and love. Nonetheless, anyone looking to actually play the story of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be satisfied with this game.

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