As a child growing up in the early 80’s, re-runs of the old 1960s Spider-man cartoons were ever present on kids telly. In an effort to defeat my youngling fear of spiders, I was encouraged to watch them… in my Spiderman pyjamas next to a cupboard adorned with Spiderman stickers. It didn’t kill my fear of spiders but served to make me a fan of Spidey, comics and cartoons of questionable quality.
The Amazing Spider-man, developed by Beenox and published by Activision, is the latest videogame incarnation of our favourite wall-crawler. The story continues on from the recent blockbuster movie, which is good in one respect as it breaks from the cliched “movie tie-in” model which can openly spoil the film for some folk. Unfortunately it does still drop a few spoilers.
The game opens with Peter Parker being shown around the Oscorp labs by Gwen Stacy, introduced to new head honcho Alistair Smythe and then thrown into the middle of an outbreak of animal/human mutation test subjects, kicked off by the local variant of classic Spidey baddie, The Scorpion. During the break-out a nasty virus is released putting Oscorp into lock-down, big robots are unleashed to capture the cross-species mutants and, wouldn’t ya know, ol’ Spidey gets caught in the middle! This sets the scene for the rest of the game as Spider-man sets out to find a cure, rescue the citizens of New York and defeat the occasional robot that tries to squish him like a bug…
There have been a fair few reviews across the internet putting this game into the “fair to middling” bracket but I found this fun to play, though a tad repetitive in places. It’s not overly long but the game is set in the sandbox of New York City and you don’t have to religiously jump from one story mission to the next. There are side missions, involving helping the police in car chases or stopping muggings, the obligatory “race and chase” style missions (given to the player by a shock-jock DJ voiced by Bruce Campbell – he just couldn’t stay away…) and, whilst swinging through the fair city, there are plenty of collectables and hidden extras to hunt down. Comic book pages unlock actual comics that can be read from the “Extras” menu and hidden Spider-Man logos, strewn around the city in many hard-to-reach places, can be photographed to unlock extra costumes. Beenox have also introduced a “bullet-time” style mechanic, here called Web Rush, which slows down time to a certain degree and can be used throughout the game to locate specific landing or attack points. Add to this an RPG-esque method of levelling up physical abilities as well as his technological arsenal and there’s something for everyone.
Yes, it was possibly rushed to coincide with the release of the movie but it will be interesting to see where Beenox/Activision take this in future; there’s a solid grounding here and no real reason for them to take any steps backwards.
I’ve certainly imagined being Spider-man on more than one occasion, which anyone who’s ever met me can testify to – from my struggling with some inner torment, trying to stick to walls, and eating flies. This game is the closest anyone will come to actually being Spider-man, without the potential risk of any serious injuries.