The Amazing Spider-Man Review

Mike Kayatta | 9 Jul 2012 12:45
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One of the most important aspects of recreating the superhero experience in a videogame is making the player actually feel like the superhero he or she is controlling. We've all seen Spider-Man a thousand times or more in comic books, movies, television shows, and other games, so asking someone to jump into Peter Parker's shiny red socks comes prepackaged with a massive helping of expectation. Before the game's first tutorial, players already know what they want to do: shoot webbing, Tarzan between skyscrapers, and cling to the ceiling. On this front, The Amazing Spider-Man delivers.

Most everything about Spider-Man's motion is fluid, with a clinging camera that does an impressive job of keeping pace with his high-speed acrobatics. You'll spend much of your time tangling with gravity in some form or another - not once will you actually just walk somewhere - and yet, somehow, you'll almost never feel as though you've lost your bearing.

Having the power to smoothly traverse entire city blocks in mere seconds is a blast, and The Amazing Spider-Man has provided a modest recreation of Manhattan as a playground to do just that. The city sandbox doesn't lend itself quite as well to combat - the ability to blip a mile away from any baddie on a moment's notice sort of deflates the whole danger aspect - so, instead, the majority of story missions take place indoors. Of course, you'll still need to swing across New York to get there, occasionally stopping for the random side-quest or two, halting a mugger, snapping some zeitgeist photos for the local paper, or racing between checkpoints for the kudos of an eccentric blimp pilot.

Once indoors, Spidey trades his speed and maneuverability for precision and stealth. The combat, at its most basic, is melee-oriented, relying on basic combo stacking to execute more powerful and distinctive super-moves. It's a solid foundation for knocking out thugs and robots, but gets boring (and extremely difficult) if you choose to never do anything more. To that end, Spider-Man is given a new mechanic called "Web Rush," sort of a reaction equalizer that helps your normal, human-type-brain keep up with Spidey's more powerful, spider-type-brain. When activated, Web Rush slows time to a near standstill, giving the player a small window to choose his or her best next move. This is used for a variety of functions, such as zeroing in on a specific enemy or selecting the vending machine you're ready to hurl at a group of aggressors. Most often, however, Web Rush is used for selecting precise locations around the room that you find perfect for a quick, tactical retreat, or better yet, a stealthy takedown.

Stealth in The Amazing Spider-Man works differently than in most games. As opposed to sneaking up on a clueless guard and disabling him without notice (though you'll do that here and there), Spidey's technique is more accurately described as massive befuddlement, zipping into view for a quick one-hit takedown, and then whipping out of the fray to behind a nearby girder or ledge. The rest of the enemies left standing will still know you're there, somewhere - and they'll look for you - but that doesn't stop you from repeating this method over and over, causing some hilarious chaos that just feels perfect for Peter Parker's comedic approach to fighting crime.

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