Unlike the first Amazing Spider-Man video game, the sequel does not follow the plot to its movie counterpart, so for those worried of revealing spoilers by playing this game before watching the movie, then fear not. Instead The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (or TASM2 as I will now call it for the benefit of my review) follows its own storyline, if anything it follows the events after the first videogame, rather than the movie. The events in TASM2 see’s Peter Parker on a relentless hunt to track down his uncle Ben’s killer and bring him to justice. Peter Parker aka Spider-Man meets some troublesome foes (and a few friends along the way) and as you might expect, Spidey will face many trials and tribulations, but who can he really trust?
I’ll begin the main section of this review with the visuals of TASM2. While visuals are by no means the be all and end all in my book, you still hope that certain games hit a minimum standard, especially on the new gen consoles. Having played the previous game, I’m struggling to see where this game is making the most of the new gen capabilities. Firstly while this isn’t apparent all the time, at times the facial animation is among the poorest I’ve on the new gen console to date, it’s very stiff and lacks any kind of real emotion. This may sound very harsh, but out of all the games that I’ve played on the PS4 and Xbox One, this is the worst that I’ve encountered thus far, and in fact I’ve seen many last gen games that have greater facial animation then TASM2 by a country mile.
The environment textures are not much better either. Many a times did I find myself checking textures close up for buildings, cars and other environmental objects, to only be greeted by blurry textures that would look out of place for games much older than this and certainly by no means do they belong on the new gen consoles. In TASM2’s defence Spider-Mans suit does look great, but in the visuals department unfortunately the bad far outweighs the good. I’ll also have to note that just like in the original game, TASM2 does not have the character licenses from the movies.
Having played the first game I had expected this to be the case, but it would have been great to have had Andrew Garfield’s likeness at the very least. You will be glad to hear though that Stan Lee does make an appearance in TASM2, both likeness and vocally. Stan runs a little comic book store in Manhattan, but I’ll get on to him a little later on. Though it has to be said that Stan is looking rather buff in this game and along with Spider-Mans suit, it seems that Stan Lee has been dedicated a lot of time by the developers as he looks far better then the main characters involved in the storyline. But ah well, it’s Stan Lee so I’ll let him off.
Just like the first game and as with the likeness, the voice talent has not made its way over to TASM2 videogame. While this doesn’t bother me quite as much as the visual likenesses, it still would have been nice if Activision would have got a few of the main cast to lend their voices. But in all fairness after an hour or so of playing, I’d soon forgot all about the official voices and the cast that has been drafted in for the videogame adaptation do a good enough job in making you believe in the characters within this game.
However while the dialogue during the cutscenes are not recycled and do a great job in telling the story, the dialogue while partaking in side missions and web-swinging around Manhattan get recycled a lot and I mean a lot. During your first hour or so of playing, you’d probably think nothing of it, but after a few hours you soon start to become tired of Spidey’s parrot like repetitiveness.
Gameplay wise TASM2 plays very soundly and from what I can think of, I came across no technical issues. A new addition (or I should say a returned addition) to TASM2 is the way in which you’ll web-swing your way across the city. In the previous game Spider-Man’s web would seemingly attach to mid-air, making it very easy to swing your way through Manhattan without any kind of difficulty. Now however you will have to utilise both trigger buttons to fire each web with the L2 representing your left hand and R2 representing your right hand, and L2/R2 to perform a speed boost. Having to use both triggers is a little tricky at first and you will faceplant many a building, but once you get use to the mechanic, the web-swinging feels far more natural and is something that I would love to see implemented in future releases.
You should be pleased to know that the Web Rush has also made its return. For those of you that don’t know, the Web Rush is activated by pressing the R1 button. You will then go into a first person view point in which you will then see Spidey’s yellow silhouette. This will also slow down time, giving your various silhouettes to choose from, once selected Spidey will then leap to your chosen destination with ease. The Web-Rush can also be used to target various enemies and the collectable comic books that you will find throughout the game, which certainly comes in handy.
As with the previous game you can also upgrade Spider-Man by earning valuable XP. Some of the skills and abilities that Spidey obtains will naturally come along with the story progression. Once Spidey has acquired that skill, you will be able to upgrade Spider-Man by using any XP earned from main quest missions, side missions and generally beating the hell out of the bad guys. Also Spider-Man will have various suits to choose from, some unlocked in-game and some as DLC bonuses from certain retailers. The more you wear that suit during the campaign and on missions, the more effective that suit will become. It’s probably unlikely that you will fully upgrade every suit (unless you’re a major completionist) and will possibly narrow down your upgraded suits via your chosen few, I certainly had my favourites.
Speaking of completionist’s, TASM2 probably won’t take you all that long to finish. The campaign has 14 main quests, which depending on the gamer could take you anywhere between 8-10 hours. But should you want to 100% this game, then you’ll have a lot to keep you occupied. In total there are 300 comics to find, you can clear out the Russian hideouts to acquire the extra Spider-Man suits, hunt down some audio logs and much more. If you wanted to put the time into the extra activities other then the main campaign, there’s decent amount here to keep you busy for a while. The suits especially are worth acquiring, as each one comes with their own style and perks.
Something that I haven’t touched upon yet is the heroic meter. Basically what this is, is a method to keep J. Jonah Jameson, the Police and Task Force Units of Spidey’s back and to stop him from being considered a “menace.” How this will work is that aside from the main campaign missions you will have a host of heroic missions scattered throughout the map, such as stopping petty crime, chasing runaway cars with hostages, saving civilians from burning buildings and more. Once one of these missions are successfully completed, it will raise your heroic meter bar, which goes up to a level 3. Fail to partake on these missions or fail them all together, will see your heroic meter fall into a minus and you will then be consider a menace.
In most cases these kind of missions would be optional, but in TASM2 you are somewhat forced to do them. Ok no one is holding a gun to your head, but if you fail to participate and complete these missions and fall into the minus, it will result in J.J. Jameson, the Police and the Task Force Units giving you all sorts of grief. With a main campaign that may take the average gamer around 10 hours to complete, the heroic meter and its missions feel somewhat of a cheap way to extend the games life and with these missions being heavily recycled, they soon become very repetitive.
It’s also worth noting that even when you have finished the main campaign, annoyingly you will still have to maintain the heroic quests to keep the authorities off you back by avoiding going into minus ‘menace’ territory. This especially feels like a hindrance as these missions become even more of a pain in the backside when you want to clear up all the side missions that remain as you pursue a 100% completion. Though once every mission is complete, you will have the option to replay each mission if you wish, all with your upgraded Spidey suits and abilities, acting as some sort of New Game+ to an effect.
There are also a number of optional missions to participate in such as speed run missions which involve you swinging through located hoops in the fastest time possible and some very boring photo missions that involve you taking photo of a police officer’s laptop, crime scene or randomly located black suit agents. A little earlier on in my review I had mentioned good old Stan Lee making an appearance in TASM2. As you progress through the game and discover the many collectables such as the comics, they will then appear to read in Stan Lee’s comic book store, along with any figurines and posters you have earned. This is a nice touch especially when collecting a fairly rare comic book as it gives you an opportunity to read those that you may have missed over the years. In the comic book store there is also an arcade cabinet which allows you to play a survival wave based game.
It’s a real shame that there’s nothing about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that looks or plays next gen, I’d be struggling to say it’s at least a prettier version of the previous game that we saw on the PS3 and Xbox 360, because it’s not all that much different in terms of overall quality. I’m not too sure how Beenox have managed to do this, were they pressed for time to get the game out in time for the movie? Perhaps, but it’s a shame none the less. If that was to be the case, hopefully by the time we see the next movie tie-in, the developers might have a little more time to make the game to the standard that it deserves to be.
With the great Arkham games from Rocksteady studios with the poster boy Batman of the DC universe, Marvel’s Spider-Man really does deserve as much acclaim as his DC counterpart. Will we ever get a great Spider-Man game? Only time will tell, but I certainly hope so. In TASM2’s defence, despite the heroic missions becoming extremely repetitive, the adjusted rope swing mechanic works great in the most part and the game did begin to pick up with the campaign a little later on.
If you’re looking for a new game Spider-Man game, then unfortunately you might not find it here. My advice, if you own both generation consoles, if you see the PS3/Xbox 360 version for cheaper, save you money and pick that one up instead. While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does have some fun moments, there’s nothing really all that super or amazing about it.
+New web-swing mechanic works well once use to it
-Heroic missions feel a burden and repetitive
-Unimaginative boss fights