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The Amazing Spider-Man PS3 Review

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The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

Image © Activision
Activision has been releasing a steady stream of games based on everybody's favorite webslinger with decidedly mixed results. When it was revealed that they would be handling the tie-in for Sony's smash Summer blockbuster "The Amazing Spider-Man," it led video game critics to wonder -- would this be in the caliber of movie tie-ins (a video game genre littered with horrendous product) or closer to the original Spidey games that the company has released in the past? And if it was the latter would it be like 2010's great "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" (one of the best superhero games ever made) or 2011's abysmal "Spider-Man: Edge of Time"? Sadly, the answer is not a happy one. While not the complete failure that was "Edge of Time," "The Amazing Spider-man" is a frustrating experience marred by mediocre graphics, lackluster voice work, horrendous storytelling, and obvious gameplay comparisons to the vastly-superior "Prototype 2" and "Batman: Arkham City."

Game Details

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Beenox
  • ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Pros: Harnessing Power of Legendary Character, Fun Combat
  • Cons: Boring Storytelling, Generic Villains, Awful Writing

There have been dozens of games based on Stan Lee's legendary creation. What could Beenox and Activision (the collaboration behind "Shattered Dimensions" and "Edge of Time") bring to the table? Perhaps so as not to be completely lumped in the negligible genre of movie tie-ins, the game picks up after the action of the movie. [SPOILER ALERT] -- Curt Connors has been defeated but his cross-species experiments continue to wreak havoc on the city, in large part through the experiments of Oscorp employee Alistair Smythe (a lackluster villain). All it means is that Spider-man will have to save a city increasingly cluttered with mutants, soldiers, robots, and other bad guys randomly pulled from the video game handbook.


The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

Image © Activision

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is seriously lacking in the personality department from the very beginning. Weak screenwriting combines with lackluster voice work to make a game severely lacking in the storytelling department. It's particularly disappointing in a game like this when the characters clearly designed after Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in "The Amazing Spider-Man" look nearly nothing like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in "The Amazing Spider-Man" (and sound even less like the two talented young stars). And the fact is that the story of an increasingly powerful hero (naturally, the game has an upgrade system, as all superhero games are required to do) taking on a city increasingly overrun by mutated enemies was done just a few months ago in the vastly-superior "Prototype 2."

So the storytelling is mediocre, what about the combat? While the melee system (a hit-dodge-special combo system that seems pulled straight from the hit "Batman: Arkham City") has effective moments, the basic gameplay of "The Amazing Spider-Man" suffers from the same flaws as the storytelling. Villains seem random and silly. You go from fighting robots to henchmen to mutants and back again with little rhyme or reason. While the slow-motion signature moves achieve a bit of a visceral thrill, the combat gets repetitive and often feels unrefined.

And the open-world concept is woefully under-utilized. When the map first starts opening up "side missions" like saving civilians from muggings or rescuing injured ones, it naturally gets the player excited that perhaps this world is as deep as the games that clearly inspired it. It's not. The side missions are minor and not challenging. And they're often silly. Collecting comic books or participating in reality TV show challenges? Too much of "The Amazing Spider-Man" feels randomly designed, like a development machine spitting out ideas that have just been thrown in instead of woven into the narrative.

To be fair, there is a basic foundation of gameplay in "The Amazing Spider-Man" that works better than some movie tie-ins or even some original superhero games. It may be faint praise but there's something about web-swinging through a city or stealthily dropping on enemies from above that has a visceral gaming power, at least for those of us raised on the Marvel brand. However, this seems like something inherent in the caliber of Stan Lee's character, not anything that Activision or Beenox have brought to the project.

Graphics & Sound

"The Amazing Spider-Man" looks good in some of the combat animations but it often looks downright awful everywhere else. The city design is dull and uninspired and the details are just off. At one point, you'll be in the sewers and the water looks like graphics circa 2003. Spidey's animations are solid and the combat graphics are as well but it's everything else around it that looks mediocre at best and sometimes less than that. The voice work, as mentioned, is pretty horrendous, especially when players are so likely to be playing the game coming off of the great performances from Garfield and Stone in the Sony film.

Bottom Line

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man

Image © Activision
"Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" was a wonderful surprise, an amazing adventure with great voice work. It's on the short list of the best superhero video games of all time (which, for the record, is led by "Batman: Arkham City"). It led gamers to hope that Activision had launched a new franchise and that we'd get a great Spider-Man game every year. Now, it's two years in a row that we've been let down. As audiences seem to be wondering if the film series needed to be rebooted so quickly after "Spider-Man 3," gamers will be hoping someone will reboot the games.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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