My feelings about The Amazing Spider-Man are a battle between my problems with the game and the sheer amount of fun I had during my time as Peter Parker’s alter ego. Technically, Spider-Man has some issues and it does give way to a repetitive mission structure. Yet at the same time, I loved my time swinging through the streets of New York. I want to go back and clean up all the side missions I have left, not because they’re thrilling ventures, but because I feel like Spider-Man as I explore the concrete jungle. And that’s all I have wanted from the hero since I did the same in Spider-Man 2.
Taking place after the events of the movie of the same name, Peter returns to Oscorp to see the remnants of Curt Connors’ cross-species experiments. While there they meet up with Alistair Smythe (everyone’s favorite voice actor, Nolan North), who Oscorp has burdened with cleaning up the mess Connors made. The company is replete with half-human, half-animal hybrids (if only they put their efforts and funds into more than this radical idea!), and the problem only worsens when a few of the mutants break out of their cages and decide to leave the nest. Peter sees it as his duty to round up these monstrosities before they can infect the entire New York City populous.
The story itself feels like more of an excuse to break up the free roaming in which players will lose themselves by bring missions indoors. There are definitely some interesting character moments, including a couple that play with well-known Spider-Man moments, and despite not having Andrew Garfield to its advantage, developer Beenox has still created a believable and enjoyable Peter/Spider-Man.
Perhaps as important to a Spider-Man tale is the choice of villains from the webhead’s vast rogue’s gallery. And unfortunately, apart from Smythe, the foes included are not the most thrilling. Vermin and Rhino have never been the most fascinating enemies, but they play little more than cogs in the story’s machine. I assume that because the game must adhere to the movie world, major villains who could be in future movies were out of bounds, but it does make lower stakes when the villains are less intriguing.
Nolan is fine as Smythe (but with it taking almost a full minute before we hear the actor’s dulcet tones, you may not get as much North as you would hope), but he is out of the picture too often for him to feel truly powerful. There is an interesting cameo by Black Cat, and the conversation she and Spider-Man have hints at a much deeper story that I would have loved to explore.
But let’s be honest, a Spider-Man game wants to make you feel like you are the hero, and the game both succeeds and fails in this regard. Though there are story-missions, Peter is mostly free to swing around the city wherever he pleases, and with this mechanic Beenox has achieved an integral part to the Spider-Man experience. Webslinging feels good thanks to the the smart systems at work. Simply by holding down the right trigger, Spider-Man will continue to swing from web to web, and he will look good doing it. The camera has been pulled in closer to the hero than in previous titles, allowing for better momentum and acrobatics – it’s an absolute thrill to jump from one of the city’s tallest buildings and shoot a web just before he makes contact with concrete.