Things have been a bit too quiet recently... there haven't been any game releases that have got me particularly excited and work (that nasty thing we do to pay the bills) has been way too hectic. Fortunately a few days off, a bit of sunshine and a Steam sale have certainly improved matters and, at the very least, I've managed to catch up on a number of games on my list of shame!
First one out the bag... The Amazing Spider-man!
As a huge fan of Spider-man, and particularly the games on the Gamecube (well, Spider-man 2, at least) I'm always on the look out for a decent up-to-date game, especially if they include a fair amount of open-world web slinging.
Set shortly after the recent re-boot of the Spider-man film of the same name (including some rather serious spoilers if you haven't actually seen the film), Spider-man finds himself facing a more wide-spread cross-species threat. Things aren't made any easier by the new director of Oscorp, Alistair Smythe, who has his own way of dealing with the cross-species outbreak... any cross-species (which includes Spider-man). Caught up in the middle of all of this is Spider-man's love interest, Gwen Stacy, which provides him with all the motivation he needs to save the city and the girl.
As well as the main story line, there is a very healthy selection of open-world missions and collectables. The missions range from preventing muggings, through to taking photos for a local investigative reporter, Whitney Chang. The main collectables are comic books that unlock actual comics in the main menu which is quite a cool feature... but there are 700 of them in total! I was pretty obsessive about collecting them while I played and managed to rack up just over 500. Sadly, even when you complete the game, it never shows the remaining comics on the map (although they will show up on the mini-map). Given the size of the city, this makes finding the remaining comics rather painful.
In terms of graphics, the game isn't exactly pushing any boundaries, but it's hard to fault it when you've swinging between buildings like a loon. The city is quite large and you get a real sense of height when you're hanging off the side of a skyscraper. With all the pedestrians and traffic, it also feels very alive. Swinging between buildings is certainly fun, but only requires you to press a button with no real thought for your environment (although if there are no buildings nearby, you will find yourself unable to web anything). Personally I prefer the method used in Spider-man 2... but that's just me. In addition to being able to swing on web, Spidey is also able to 'Web-Rush'. Holding down the corresponding button slows down time to a crawl and switches you to first-person view. While in this mode, convenient points for you to catapult yourself to will appear in gold (including comic books, which is handy); highlight one and releasing the button fires you in that direction, bouncing off interim buildings if necessary.
Combat isn't too bad. Comparisons to the Batman Arkham games are inevitable with your Spidey-senses giving you a brief moment to dodge or counter incoming attacks giving you the ability to bounce between multiple assailants. Get a high enough combo while fighting and you'll get the chance to use a signature move, incapacitating your target(s). Using points earned throughout the game allows you to unlock extra moves and abilities, including being able to lower the number of hits in your combo needed before you can trigger a signature move... which is essential when it comes to the boss fights.
Sadly the boss fights are one area where a lot of games tend to fall flat... and this one is no exception. While I can forgive a bit of repetition in the open-world encounters, boss fights should be a bit more intelligent. With only a couple of exceptions, all the boss fights tend use the same formula: dodge until the boss is vulnerable, web-rush, rinse and repeat. They are rarely fun and it astounds me that developers still haven't realised this (or maybe they just don't care).
Overall, an enjoyable romp round Manhattan and well worth playing.tags: activision, marvel, review, spider-man, steam, xbox 360
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