Spider-Man 2 was a great Spider-Man video game. Okay, so the combat had some problems, and some of the “random” crimes you could stop got repetitive, and chasing down lost balloons for whiny kids got pretty old, but despite all of that, it was a great game. The sense of freedom, the ability to swing about Manhattan and really feel like Spider-Man, the chance to use your webbing for some unique things; it all made for a really fun super hero video game. Somehow, Spider-Man 3 broke it, and we haven’t seen an open-world Spider-Man game of the like since. While Beenox gave us a pretty cool Spidey game with Shattered Dimensions, and an okay one with Edge of Time, neither of those games were of the open-world (something I lamented in my Edge of Time review), “it’s so much fun to web-swing through Manhattan,” variety. Fortunately, Beenox is ready to re-visit that popular formula (so I guess they heard my lament), and in doing so, they may just deliver another truly great Spider-Man game.
The Amazing Spider-Man once again lets Spidey web-swing around New York to his heart’s content. Plus, with the new Web Rush ability, you can traverse areas quickly and with some signature Spidey acrobatics. Best of all, this means getting on the spire of the Empire State Building will no longer be the chore it once was. Beenox has done a few new things to help recapture the thrill anew of swinging around. The camera is in closer, which allows us to get a greater sense of Spidey’s movements; you’ll feel more like you’re actually swinging through the city. It also allows us to get a closer look at the Web-head’s movements, letting us see those crazy, acrobatic things he does while swinging through the city. It just flat out looks like a lot of fun, and once again may prove to be a highlight of a Spidey game.
Combat is also getting an overhaul. Web Rush plays a role here as well, allowing you to do some unique things in combat and to interact with the environment. It also helps to simplify battles when they take place in the air. The combat is also borrowing some ideas from Batman. When your Spidey-sense goes off, you can counter an incoming attacker. It looks very similar to the combat from Arkham City (no bad thing), but with a lot more flips and cartwheels and so forth- you know, more Spider-Man-y; in short, it looks like it may actually be pretty good. You of course also have your webs to use, so there are plenty of reasons that combat in an open-world Spider-Man game may actually amount to more than simple button mashing for the same repetitive but effective moves.
Story-wise, the game takes place after the upcoming film. Although it’s set in that same universe, being a follow-up story allows it more freedom in telling a story suited to an open-world video game. However, seeing as the game releases before the movie, people sensitive to spoilers may not want to rush out and buy it. Also, since this game is set in the more grounded reality of the upcoming movie, its take on some classic villains will reflect that sensibility, giving it what could be a fun sense of discovery.
All in all, The Amazing Spider-Man looks, well, pretty amazing. Now if it would only include some things like alternate costumes and a truly plentiful variety of actually interesting side-quests and random crimes, and we might actually have something that comes close to the brilliance of Arkham City, maybe. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait in order to find out. Spidey swings into store June 26th.