The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bad game. An obviously compromised work only created to promote a blockbuster film. The repetitive mechanics simply don’t gel and require players to adapt to the game’s consistently sloppy execution, and the banal simplicity of every sequence removes any sense of accomplishment. Combine that with a mindless, poorly paced story that introduces and dismisses characters with such frequency that it’s impossible to become emotionally engaged. Even on the newer consoles, it’s clear little work was done to enhance the blocky, stiff graphics and empty environments. All of this occurs in less than seven hours, and the vast majority will see no reason to return, or in many cases, finish the game.
As an open-world game, traversal is a large component to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Swinging from buildings is done with both triggers, one for each hand. Unlike the previous game, Spidey’s webs must attach to the buildings around him, supposedly giving it a more realistic feel. However, it becomes immediately apparent that the elastic webs feel far more like stiff ropes, requiring players to narrowly miss crashing into the very buildings they’re arching from. Gaining and lowering height also comes off as rigidulous exercise. Worse yet, Spider-Man often won’t shoot a web to a building unless he’s roughly half way down. I assume this is because the web is always the same length, making what should be exhilarating moments into a dull chore. Falling down towards the city streets is all the more infuriating when you’re waiting for the swinging mechanic to return. Even towards the final chapters, I would often run up buildings as the swinging was unreliable.
Luckily, the Web-Rush mechanic makes a return. Web-Rush allows players to slow down time for precision or speed, and choose pre-determined objects to land on, Pressing forward continues momentum to the next destination. Web-Rush also allows players to choose random locations. The results are often less polished, but after a few experiments it became my preferred method of traversal. It’s a handy trick that could have used a bit more work but remains a high-point of the game.
Combat borrows heavily from the Arkham series, including fighting hand-to-hand with multiple enemies and dodging incoming attacks. Occasionally you’ll have to use additional tactics for special enemies, such as dizzying a large enemy with a sound blast or webbing up and shattering armor. Boss fights don’t stray too far from the basics. Sometimes you’ll need to use a pull mechanism to bring enemies towards Spider-Man, activate switches, and throw incoming projectiles back at enemies. From the average street thugs to the signature villains, all result in the same button mashing/dodging mechanics. At the end of the day it’s bare-bones, lazily-executed system that comprises roughly half of the game.
Side activities are insultingly one-dimensional. Rescuing civilians from burning buildings, stopping carjackings, and beating up thugs always occur in the exact same locations with a varying number of enemies and citizens. Bomb defusing does have a bit more variety when it comes to the building in which the bomb is located, but Spider-Man will always throw it into the same river. Loading screens before and after each event remove any sense of an interactive world. After a few side activities (which all already are in the story) I was too bored to bother with them. Yet the game blocks progression a couple of time throughout the story until you do a few more “missions.”
Perhaps the worst design choice is the Menace or Hero morality system. Unless you perform these side activities, Special Force units will chase after you and create plasma walls to prevent you from swinging through the city. None of the activities are engaging after the first time and punishing players for avoiding them is a poor design choice and shockingly antagonistic.
Presentation And Story
If you’re worried about film spoilers in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, don’t. After seven hours in New York, I still have no idea what the real threat, goal, motivation, or theme was. Every villain attempts to have an element of pathos, but exposition happens in manner of a minute for each. At one point Electro attacks New York, I have no idea how he became Electro or what his plan is. Then he disappears after 20 minutes and is replaced by yet another villain who’s scheme remains vague. Even the rare instances that the plot is explained, it’s so ludicrously stupid and short-lived that I remained disengaged.
When the game ended I was stunned to find there wasn’t a third act. The final cut scene has absolutely nothing to do with any of the previous events and comes off as brash and patronizing. It’s a very dumb, shallow story.
These characters have existed for half a century and deserve better than bad writing, flat pacing, and disjointed voice acting. One exception is Steve Blum’s performance as Kraven The Hunter, who overcomes the vapid dialogue and creates the closest thing The Amazing Spider-man 2 has to an interesting character. Stan Lee once again plays the role he was born to play; Stan Lee. He’s not really a character, but his warm, dramatic delivery is a great reminder of the passion required to write a character like Spider-Man. Sadly that’s not here. Spider-Man’s repetitive quips are often more annoying than humorous and rarely have anything to do with his circumstances.
If you’re on the fence about going with the current or last-gen version, pick whatever controller you prefer. Even on the Playstation 4, graphics are blocky and characters are stiff. Textures look cheap and the city scape is an obvious hold over from the last game. Streets are often free of any substantial traffic. It really doesn’t feel like the city that never sleeps. At least the frame-rate is stable. Anyone looking to show off their shiny new system should avoid The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a cheap cash-in. A short, cheap experience that leans heavily on games made over a decade ago. Why is this ran open world? Because of 2004’s Spider-Man 2. Why does the combat have a dodge mechanic? Because of Arkham Asylum. It borrows so much from better titles without any of the craftsmanship. If you must play a Spider-Man game, there are a multitude of other, better games available. If you’re just looking to kill some time in between game releases, hit up your backlog. Nothing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is original or well executed, and there are few games worse than poor imitations.