Spider-Man fans have been having a rough time lately. While Batman’s line of games have been among the best games of all time, poor Spidey’s adventures over the past years have ranged from decent to atrocious. Spidey has a brand new game coming out to go along with a brand new movie, and many fans are hoping for a return to gaming grace. Those fans better hope that the console version of The Amazing Spider-Man is shaping up better than its 3DS counterpart.
The Amazing Spider-Man demo plops you into the middle of a heist being pulled off by the Black Cat and a legion of goons. As our hero, you must free hostages, beat up thugs, and capture the villains. To accomplish your goals, you can do whatever a spider can. You can climb on walls, swing on webs, zip between surfaces, and more.
The first thing you’ll notice about the game are its graphics. The game looks like a mediocre PS2 effort. While Spider-Man himself sports a great character model, everyone else looks blocky, and the faces of NPCs are downright hideous. On the plus side, the 3D features actually add a nice sense of depth to the proceedings.
The graphics could be tolerated, but the game really suffers in the control department. The best thing about any Spider-man game is the web-swinging. Spider-Man can swing around by holding the B button, and zip to a surface with the X button. Compared to other Spider-Man games, Spidey’s web-based abilities are fairly limited.
In terms of combat, The Amazing Spider-Man takes some clear inspiration from Arkham Asylum. Pressing the Y button will initiate a flurry of impressive looking attacks which will send Spidey bouncing from enemy to enemy. Like in Rocksteady’s Batman games, dodging is a huge part of combat. In a frustrating design choice, the dodge button is mapped to the touch screen rather than a face button. Moving your thumb between face buttons and touch screen takes some getting used to and disrupts the flow of combos. Overall, combat was a bit shallower than Batman’s adventures, but hopefully combat will become a bit more complex in later levels.
The dodge issue is demonstrative of the problems in The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s pretty clear that this is a console design that has been modified to fit onto a handheld where it doesn’t belong. Camera controls are mapped to the L and R buttons which is a poor substitute for a second analog stick. You can’t look up or down without entering into the first person web rush mode, and as Spidey climbs on walls, the camera becomes confused and difficult to control.
Eventually, the game ends with rather lackluster boss battle. I left the experience feeling quite underwhelmed. This is a game that might have worked on another system, but it is clearly not optimized for the 3DS. Activision tired to cram a square peg into a round hole, and the results haven’t been great.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, feel free to check out the demo of The Amazing Spider-Man, which is available on the eShop right now. The demo costs nothing but a little bit of time, and you’ll be able to form your own opinion.