Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony PlayStation 4)

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Developer: Beenox
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Third Person Super Hero
Released: 04/29/2014

The first Amazing Spider-man game was an enjoyable game that suffered from a few flaws. As far as movie tie-in games go, it was actually pretty solid. It wasn’t Spectacular by any means, nor was it Superior, but it was certainly Adequate. So I was looking forward to this one. Developer Beenox have shown that they might be capable of doing the franchise justice, and I wanted to make with the webbing pronto.

When you boot up the game for the first time you are treated to a retelling of the death of Uncle Ben, and how Peter could have stopped it. You find out that the killer was never captured, and Spider-Man is determined to make that happen. In fact it’s your first mission in the game. Conveniently the killer is part of a gang that is flooding the streets with weapons that are leading to a crime war not seen since the last game. Soon Spidey is neck deep in a gang war and is floundering, not having a father figure to talk to, this version of Spider-Man being a very young Spidey. Fortunately for him Kraven the Hunter soon appears offering his services as a father figure. No seriously, he wants to mentor Spider-Man in the ways of hunting, and using Kraven’s methods Spider-Man is able to crack some skulls and put some gangs behind bars.

5As you’ll notice the story here doesn’t exactly match that found in the movie. In the first Amazing Spider-Man adaptation the game took place shortly after the events of the movie. This time around, possibly to avoid being yelled at for spoiling the ending of the movie Beenox have decided to tell a tale that happens only somewhat similarly to the events in the second movie. You do, for example, run into Electro at one point, and you must deal with him, but his origin is different from that in the movie, or so I’m led to believe. And Harry Osbourne is also somebody you will run into, but in this game the main villain is Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin. The game is basically how he becomes the Kingpin thanks in no small part to Spider-Man breaking all of the gangs for him. I found the story to be pretty good, but I would say opportunities were missed. The game ,while open world, is extremely linear when it comes to the story. You will move from one mission to the next and while you can certainly stop and do other things in Manhattan it’s just as easy to play the game from start to finish. And if you do that the story doesn’t take very long to complete. A dedicated player could probably finish the story in under six hours.

4The game itself is not all that difficult, but sadly the same cannot be said for the camera. You can maneuver Spidey around the city using your web shooters in two ways, by swinging and by the returning method of firing a line somewhere in the distance and yanking yourself that way. Both options have their place, though as a traditionalist I must confess I do prefer to just web swing through the steel caverns of New York. As I said, thoughm the camera is not what it could be. On more than one occasion the game just could not keep up with what Spider-Man was doing, causing him to needlessly slam into a window or a fence or something. It’s really only noticeable when you are in a rush or when you are trying to nab a comic book, but of course that’s when it’s the most annoying.

Okay, web swinging. I know this is of vital concern to many players. For those of you who are annoyed anytime you see a game where Spider-Man fires a web in the air and is able to web-swing from nothing but a cloud, you’ll be pleased to know that for the most part you cannot do that in this game. If there is nothing around you of an acceptable height you are not going to be firing your web. Spidey will often make a comment about needing something to swing from. I didn’t find that annoying so much as I found it immersion breaking. The game is telling you this of course, but if you look at it objectively Spider-Man is talking to himself. Which some people seem to think he does all the time, but inner monologues don’t count. Ahem, anyway, there is a brief section near the end of the game where the old system of swinging returns, mainly because there are no buildings tall enough for you to swing from in that section of the game and why be tedious is what I’m guessing the developers thought. All in all you’ll be doing it for less than 10 minutes so I don’t really have an issue with it.

Since this is on the PS4 I was hopping to be wowed by the graphics. And while there are moments where the game looks really nice I cannot say I was wowed. The game engine does not look like it has been improved all that much from the last game on the PS3. The character models especially are disappointing. While in costume Spider-Man looks quite good, but when he takes the mask off to interact the character looks, well, uninspiring would be the word. Actually to be honest when I saw Peter’s face I was struck by how closely it resembles Michael from Grand Theft Auto 5. Seriously, it’s like Peter is his younger self. It made me wonder where Trevor was, the resemblance was so uncanny. The rest of the cast is not much better. Kraven looks pretty good, but the way he is voiced made me think it was Zangief the Hunter, and the way he stands and poses did not really help dispel that image from my mind. I was just expecting more than what has been delivered, and it’s a little bit disappointing.

1The audio, on the other hand, is pretty solid. The voice cast is excellent, and they all give a great performance, Zangief the Hunter aside. I would have liked a few more wise cracks and one liners from Spider-Man, if I’m honest. It soon becomes obvious that there are maybe four or five go to lines for the character during battle, and that’s more than a little disappointing. It doesn’t have to be Night at the Improv or anything but when games like GTA5 have an abundance of interactions for the cast, four or five lines is just no longer acceptable. In fact I’d say it stopped being acceptable two generations of systems ago. Every version of the game ships on Blu-ray now, there’s zero excuse. The highlight of the show is Stan Lee, who is given the opportunity to give a few speeches, once at the beginning of the game and again at the end. He runs The Comic Stand, a place where you can go to check out the comics and figures you’ve been collecting as you make your way through the game. The theme from the last game makes a return here, and I can say with certainty that there is zero dubstep, which is an improvement on the movie soundtrack.

The biggest change in the game between this outing and the last one is what you upgrade. There are a number of suits you can unlock in the game, ranging from the one you wore last game to silly ones like Spider-Man Noir. Each suit has special abilities, or rather each suit is more suited to particular missions. So for example if you are trying to sneak around you might decide to wear one suit, while if you are facing an army you may decide to wear something with a little more armor. When you battle enemies you will level up whatever suit you happen to be wearing at the time. So you might increase the armor level of a suit. I can’t say I really noticed too much difference between a level one suit and a fully upgraded one, but then maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

Along with upgrading your suit you also upgrade your web-shooters and how far your webbing can fling you. It’s not all that involved, and you’ll have fully upgraded your Spider-Man well before you are finished with the game if you are doing anything outside of the main story missions at all

2Beenox have decided to include something of a morality system into the game, though that might be stretching things a little. Basically you are forever fighting against the perception that you are a menace to the people of New York. So you must constantly fight the JJ Jamesons of the world by performing heroic acts. This can include saving people from burning buildings or picking concrete blocks off of random people or stopping shootouts by taking out entire gangs of thugs. Completing these tasks will keep your Hero/Menace meter firmly in the hero portion of the meter. At least it does until later in the game, where it starts to feel like no matter how much good I do the meter is never going to read Heroic ever again. Part of the problem is that as you progress the game makes it more and more difficult to get around town without getting noticed by a plot device, which you must then destroy because there is no evading them once the plot device has spotted you. I don’t know if they intentionally made it this difficult so you’d know how Spider-Man feels when he’s whining about not being appreciated or something, but I could have done without it.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Overall not a whole lot has changed from one game to the next, but I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by this version in comparison to the last one. The graphics are not as good as they should be, the loading times are still just as bad as they were last time around, and the game just feels undercooked. Not terrible but certainly not Amazing, and not even Adequate this time. Beenox needs to step up next time and show that they are a AAA developer worthy of this franchise.

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