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The Amazing Spider-Man review

This superhero sandbox nails the web-slinging, but little else

Spider-Man fans might have to face the hard truth that this might be as good as it gets for Marvel's web-slinger. Not because the game's particularly good, but because it might not actually be possible to turn this particular superhero into a gaming great. Certainly, the barriers presented in The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition seem impassable.

First, the good things. This nine-month-late port nails Spidey's acrobatic traversal, with breathless pirouettes and swan dives across New York's skyline, lovingly mirroring the hero's athletic finesse. Such is the balletic beauty, sometimes it's hard to believe you're actually in control (and as you're simply holding the right trigger to swing, one could argue you're not).

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The counter-based combat's relatively impressive, too, at least visually, with lucha libre wrestling combining with exaggerated human strength to enable ridiculous combos, like following a suplex by lobbing a vending machine. Even the story does the job. Picking up after the film, Curt 'The Lizard' Connors is behind bars and Peter Parker's relationship with Gwen Stacy is going steadily. When the two sneak into Oscorp after hours and witness the facility's continuing of Connors' insane cross-species experiments, however, things soon head south.

The horrific hybrids (man-sized rats, angry iguanas and scorpions with a grudge) escape and it falls to Spider-Man to quarantine them. Our hero - himself a cross-species and therefore a target - is not helped in this task by Oscorp unleashing its own quarantine robots on the city.

Four Webbings...

That's where the positives dry up. While this game isn't broken, there's little at which it excels - and some things it just does badly. If Batman: Arkham City raised the bar, The Amazing Spider-Man smacks its head on it.

The problem faced by Beenox is how to make a convincing fist of having a regular being (you) control an 'amazing' one (him). Batman works as a game character because he's a regular(ish)human, Spider-Man doesn't because he's got superhuman moves, reflexes and senses.

The only way a developer can give players access to these powers is through workarounds, such as Web Rush. You can hold a button to enter first-person, then zip to a set point. Tapping the button down a long avenue sees him flip from flagpoles and spring-board off buildings, but tapping a button is all you're doing. Spider-Man handles like a piece of styrofoam; his bum-hugging lycra has been faithfully recreated, but it never feels like there's anyone in it.

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The setting you're swinging through is just as lacklustre. New York from the air is a grey maze of cereal boxes. At street level it's an existential wasteland comparable to that bit in Inception when Cobb and Ariadne traipse around an empty mind-city. Roads packed with cabs and crowds of urbanites sipping coffee are crucial to New York's visual identity - but they're absent.

...And A Funeral

Most missions send you indoors, where the gameplay shifts to stealth. Early ones see you infiltrate Oscorp and battle security, fight armed patients in a mental hospital and delve into a sewer to hunt down a giant bipedal rat. Sneaky players might hide on dark ceilings and wrap up foes in webs, while the more bloody-minded can take them out in group combat, but both methods are marred by a jerky camera that doesn't feel designed to function in tight spaces.

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7 comments so far...
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  1. olrodlegacy Saturday 4th May 2013 at 11:41

    I really enjoyed the Spiderman game that came out just after the release of the first Tobey Maguire movey, and that was nearly ten years ago now. If Batman can become a great game, there's no excuse for Spiderman not to be one too.

  2. ultimatebuffalo Saturday 4th May 2013 at 12:16

    why would anyone want to read about a year old shovelware port that scores 50 % let alone play it.

  3. Argenthor Saturday 4th May 2013 at 15:20

    Spiderman 2 the game, It remains the best experience - I tried this after hearing positive things, but the new web swinging mechanics just don't feel as fluid and fun.

    I didn't even give this much of a chance and took it back after a few hours. Luckily I was only renting!

  4. Cinaclov Saturday 4th May 2013 at 20:45

    Just thought I'd point out that you reference the box on the right on the last page, a box which seems to have failed to make the transition online ;)

  5. SuperNintyFan333 Sunday 5th May 2013 at 07:14

    why would anyone want to read about a year old shovelware port that scores 50 % let alone play it.

    Exactly but people will still buy it cos its spiderman.

  6. ultimatebuffalo Sunday 5th May 2013 at 14:44

    why would anyone want to read about a year old shovelware port that scores 50 % let alone play it.

    Exactly but people will still buy it cos its spiderman.

    except they won't coz its on a console no one is buying.

  7. mattym727 Wednesday 15th May 2013 at 17:31

    Exactly but people will still buy it cos its spiderman.

    except they won't coz its on a console no one is buying.
    WiiU sold more than 360 or PS3 did in the first 90 days. I'm sure it will be fine ;)

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