My first impression of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 was “this is a clunky version of Batman Arkham (insert Asylum, City, or Origins here) with web swinging instead of flying.” Turns out that my initial reaction was right on the money. But with a movie based video game, what do you expect? I was playing the PC version of this game (which has horribly unintuitive controls) and I was forced to use my Xbox joystick. Switching to the joystick made this game much more enjoyable since web swinging can be done by using the triggers rather than by a complex combination of buttons on the keyboard and mouse.
Right away I noticed the combat system was just like the Arkham games; spam X to attack and Y to counter when your Spidey Sense starts tingling. There are a few web moves you can use in combat, but getting them to target the guy you are looking directly at, if anyone else is nearby, is damn near impossible. This led to many frustrating battles trying to shoot my corrosive web on an armored guy so I could knock him out, only to end up spamming webs on every other bad guy in the area besides the one I wanted. Another problem with this game are the seemingly uninspired boss fights. I was able to first try almost every boss in this game, although being able to fully heal yourself whenever you want helps.
The web swinging and web pull are sort of glitchy as well. Often when swinging, the web will not attach even though there is an enormous building next to Spidey, and other times the webs will seemingly grab nothing. One example of this is if you look up to try to web pull yourself to a ledge, and aim a little too high, you will attach a web to the sky and rocket yourself over the building you are trying to reach. The camera when moving around on the walls and ceilings is very squirrelly as well; like when you hit a building and start running in a seemingly random direction regardless of where the camera is facing. When the web swinging is working as intended however, it is actually pretty fun swooping over mid-day traffic like a Tarzan who met the Queer Eye people.
One thing this game attempted (poorly) was a stealth system. Aside from not having to fight the guards directly (by button mashing X) there is little incentive to be stealthy on most missions that the guards do not have some absurd amount of firepower. Even then, with web upgrades, guns are little threat since you can disarm opponents (assuming you can target the correct one). The AI is pretty stupid as well, letting you sprint up behind someone you are about to use a stealth takedown on. I like the idea, but the system could use some polish.
The upgrade system was not very exciting either. Yes the upgrades helped as I went through the game, but they felt a little half-assed.
One system I did not like was the reputation system. By doing heroic deeds your reputation bar moves into the blue and you are hassled less by the cops. This meter, however, is arbitrarily reset during the main story quests, and goes negative if you fail to do the side missions in time as they pop up. I tried maintaining my reputation for a while, but I found that the cops were not a significant enough threat to bother, and just let my reputation fall all the way negative. They are easily avoided, and if you are caught, easily beaten or evaded.
Another thing that made this game feel sort of “cheap” was the voice-overs, especially in combat. Repetitive smug Spidey remarks, that are the same on boss fights (where they seem a little out-of-place) as they are against your run-of-the-mill goons, get a bit tiring after a while. Six more hours of game play and I would have been playing on mute.
All in all this game was fun despite the buggy feel and so-so graphics. As expected of games these days, the story took less than 6 hours to beat, although I did not do many of the side quests (I would estimate another 6 hours or so of content and a few more if I was going for 100% achievement completion). I did chase down a number of comic book pages (the Spidey equivalent of Riddler trophies minus the puzzles) which unlock vintage comics you can read in Stan Lee’s shop, but as a gamer first and Spider-Man fan second, that is not enough to hold my interest in this game. For true Spidey fans there is probably a lot of lore that would appeal to you that was lost on me. To be fair, for a movie based PC game, this game is stellar!
Final Score: 4 out of 5