// Reviews // 17th Jun 2014 — 8 years ago // By Andrew Duncan
If there was one videogame sequel I was looking forward to this year, it was The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Marvel super hero - check, sequel to a somewhat decent videogame - check, competing in my heart against Spider-Man 2, check and double-check! So when I played it, I was very glad at the changes from the first game.
For a Marvel nerd, the writers did a perfect job, which they should due to the fact it was Christos Gage (co-writer of The Amazing Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man comics) and co-written by Peter David (creator of Spider-Man 2099 and writer of many assorted Spider-Man comics). The game is funny, the emotional bits hit home and it retains continuity from the first The Amazing Spider-Man videogame. Continuity in Spider-Man comic books is usually very good after all - until Mephisto gets involved - so it was great to see it follows the events of the first game. It’s based on the new movie, but whereas the first game took place a few weeks after the first movie, this one continues two years after that game rather than doing an exact adaptation.
The first game introduced us to the concept of cross-species: lab experiments from Oscorp that are half-human and half-animal. Rhino appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man but is absent from this sequel despite appearing in the movie it’s based upon. The reason is, he was a Cross-Species in the game and in robot armour in the movie - so rather than seem slap-shod with continuity like the first trilogy of Spider-Man movie games did, they just left him out. It would have been fun fighting giant robot Rhino like the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed, but the Beenox team clearly values comicbooks - and it shows.
The script is the most impressive thing about this game. That’s not a detrimental thing, as the game is quite fun. But being a long-time Marvel fan, much less a Marvel comicbook fan, I really got a kick out of it all. As the story progresses, you discover that Peter is working as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle, reporting directly to J. Jonah Jameson. He has a much bigger role in the game than the movie - in that he actually has lines and isn't just name-dropped. You also eventually come up against the Black Cat, who you met trying to escape Ravencroft Asylum in the first game. Her fascination with the powerful Spider-Man continues and the teenage lust Spidey expresses for Boobs McGee is very humorous. Other big Spider-Man names come in the guise of The Kingpin, Shocker, Kraven The Hunter and Cletus Kassady, as well as Electro (being as he's in the movie, and all). They all sound and act very much like their comic counterparts and even wear somewhat realistic versions of their costumes.
There are a number of mentions of other Spider-Man-related Marvel properties, such as the comic shop having posters for Morbius' latest cancelled series and Black Cat. You can unlock different costumes, including Spider-Man 2099 and Ultimate Comics' Spider-Man, during several side missions in the game and each has in-game information about it as well as real-world first appearances. The Ultimate Comics' one explains that Spidey unlocked it because it looks very close to - quite literally - the comic book version of his costume and that the writer "thinks I'm a kid named Miles Morales". Sadly no mention of Ultimate Black Widow being a female clone of Ultimate Peter Parker...
After every crime solved - people rescued, bad guys beaten up, bombs defused - you are "treated" to a Daily Bugle news report about it. There is a scroll across the bottom of the screen and this is where the tastiest easter eggs are for Marvel fans. They mention several titles without specifically naming them - for example Giant Size Man-Thing has "Giant-sized creature looking like a man sighted in Everglades".
As mentioned, the storyline somewhat follows along the lines of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but that is a backdrop to Spidey fighting against Kingpin trying to take over New York and take out the Carnage Killer who is killing murderers. When I first paused and found there are only 14 story missions, I was disappointed. However, after 12 hours and less than 50% complete, I realised that was misplaced. However, not all of that was story missions and a disappointing amount of time was spent during loading screens which always require you to press start to continue.
When you confront petty crimes, you are given an unskippable cinematic - showing the thugs breaking in or the trains parked on the civilian for example. Then you finish it and see another unskippable cutscene followed by an unskippable Daily Bugle " update" saying one of six things about what you just did. Once that's over you have to guess which way you want to head for 20 seconds, as your mini-map and pause menu are frozen while it gives you Hero Points. After that, you can carry on as normal again, though the inability to know which way you should go can gain you Menace Points, thereby undoing your Hero Points.
The Hero or Menace mechanic could have worked better. If you don't stop petty crimes, the public blames Spidey and view you as a menace. As mentioned, this works against you in some cases, as each crime has an invisible time limit - though they flash on the mini-map when time is running out. If you are seen as a Menace, the city’s new militant ‘Task Force’ will come after you with electric turrets and huge drones that fire machine guns at you. There are many things to earn you hero points, such as stopping breaking and enterings, saving people from flaming apartment buildings, aiding police during shootouts with gangs or saving people in peril. Some appear in the main world, however others require you to jump on a car or helicopter to travel to - and get a longer loading screen.
There are some things you can do without unnecessary loading, however. Taking photos for Jameson (who doesn't care whether Peter lives or dies, so long as he gets photos) or of Detective DeWolff and Carnage Killer scenes gives you experience points and extra insight into the characters. At any point, you can whip out Peter's camera (presumably no longer with his name label on, after the first movie...) and take a picture of whatever you want. They aren't saved anywhere or viewable afterwards, so it serves little purpose apart from the above instances.
You can enter Russian mob hideouts to get new costumes, which tests your ability to sneak around and take out enemies without alerting anyone. These are underground, so that helps a lot. Some end with the costume, others require you to fight an enemy with speed powers. Each costume has different properties such as extra strength or stealth and can be levelled up individually. There are also races to do, but those are pretty much "mash Web Strike until you win", as it is much easier than trying to swing through the checkpoints.
You can enter the LCBS (Local Comic Book Shop) run by quipping Stan 'The Man' Lee (Spidey’s co-creator) and read the comics you’ve collected, view trophies which tell you about your enemies or play the arcade game. The arcade game is basically a survival mode, making you fight waves of thugs to earn experience points and upgrade your abilities. The fighting is easy to do, with combos the name of the game. There are 300 comic pages to collect around New York, which finding is made easier by unlocking one of the abilities which highlights them on your mini map.
The graphics don't disappoint except when rendering faces. As much of the game is spent in mask, that isn't always an issue. The voices are not done by the actors, but are very well done. Peter is voiced by Sam Riegel who suits it just as well as Andrew Garfield, and Fred Tatasciore is fantastic as always as the voice of Jameson.
Finally - the thing that does disappoint, the thing that is most important to Spider-Man, is the web swinging. It isn't a huge problem, but it is broken in an annoying way. L2 controls the left wrist, R2 is the right wrist - both speeds you up after a few missions. It works well when swinging down a street of level buildings, but when you get to skyscrapers and lower offices, you keep getting Spidey tell you "Webs need something to attach to." or "Web swinging fail!" - even when the web was successful and you're halfway through the next swing. It grates and especially in cases when you're falling next to a tall building and no web line will attach because "I need another mode of transport!". It's better than the first game's decision to allow you to web swing higher than the Empire State building without attaching to anything, but you end up relying on web rush more as it's more accurate.
It's a fun romp through New York, but the long load times and annoying web swinging mar a great game. Lots of easter eggs for comic nerds like me does earn Beenox points, though. Better than the last two movie tie-in games, but not Spider-Man 2.