Published Apr 29, 2014Documentarians recently dug up the Holy Grail of gaming — if by Holy Grail one means arguably the worst game ever, one so bad that it bankrupted Atari and forced them to bury returned or unsold copies in the desert. That game was ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, and ever since its ignominious release, movie tie-in games have been viewed with not-unreasonable scepticism. Fast-forward to today: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game has been getting pretty rough reviews, but it's hardly desert burial-worthy.
Of course, it's no Arkham City either, the ne plus ultra of superhero videogames that was notably not tied to Chris Nolan's Batman films. Perhaps Beenox should have kept their distance, too. After all, their past two Spider-Man games — Edge of Time and Shattered Dimensions — were solid efforts with interesting, original stories. Most of the problems with their latest open-world Spidey game can likely be traced to being rushed to market to meet the film's deadline.
That said, it's worth appreciating that ASM2 doesn't simply rehash the film. In fact, its primary connection is that it's set in the cinematic, rather than comic book, universe with a few similar characters like Electro and Green Goblin showing up in both. But aside from callously using Uncle Ben's death for a tutorial and unnecessarily going over Spidey's tragic origins again before getting into the gang-war meat of the narrative, it does the job of incorporating Peter Parker's Daily Bugle job and Spidey's web-slinging crime-fighting.
The gameplay doesn't stray much beyond the usual mix of a sandbox city full of side-quests and collectibles with a mission-based story campaign. The big difference here is that the familiar karma system is used to affect whether Spidey is considered a hero or, as JJJ likes to call him, a menace.
Because of the whole "with great power comes great responsibility" shtick, you don't become a menace by doing evil things, but by not doing good things. Ignore a crime in progress or fail to rescue stranded civilians from a burning building and that is enough to be branded as bad. It can be annoying, sure, but it fits the franchise.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't a game I might recommend for non-Spidey fans, as there are better urban sandboxes to play in. But there aren't better ones to swing in. The game nails the sheer joy of web-slinging though New York City as an acrobatic teenage arachnid hero, and for all its faults, kept reeling me back in. (Activision/ Beenox)