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).
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.
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.
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.