Review – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (video game)
Writer: Christos Gage
Release Date: April 17th 2014
You are probably thinking Dan, why the hell are you putting out a review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game in 2021? It was a poorly reviewed movie tie-in game that came out seven years ago.
That is a very valid question.
I chose to go back and review The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game because I actually believe it is one of the most relevant games I have ever played in terms of the wider gaming landscape.
So yeah you may have me rumbled, this won’t be so much a review of The Amazing Spiderman 2 for PS4 as it will be a commentary on bad games in general and their place in the modern gaming landscape.
I first played this game about three years after its initial release; picking it up cheap in an era that was dominated by Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games. I remember that I had just come off of finally getting around to playing Until Dawn after putting it off for a long time. Until Dawn is a well made, well written, well acted, well executed teen horror story that had atmosphere and intrigue in spades.
I then went on to play a game that I thought was mediocre by comparison, DMC Definitive Edition. When playing through the story I remember being so underwhelmed and disappointed in what they had turned this once great franchise into; an angsty, melodramatic, arcade slash ‘em up with as much depth as the shallow end of the kiddies swimming pool. I remember thinking, what a waste of cash and time. What a piece of garbage. Oh how naïve I was, as I had no idea how much worse it could get.
The first thing that I was painfully reminded of upon revisiting The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was that this game graphically is at the same level if not worse than the first Amazing Spiderman game that was first released back on PS3. In 2021, after playing Insomniac’s 2018 Spider-Man game it is even more pitiful to look at than it was at the time. However, games with under par graphics can still be fun and UI’s and poly counts aren’t everything, So I began working my way through the game.
Let’s start with the only positive that this game has going for it, the web slinging. Traversal feels and looks great in the game, zipping around NYC is a treat and when everything works correctly, you can pull off some truly spectacular acrobatics while shooting around in mid air. The shoulder buttons on the controller are matched to Spidey’s arms, left trigger for left swing, right trigger for right swing, and unlike the first Amazing Spiderman game, in this one the web shooters have to be aimed at a building in order to perform a successful swing.
The important phrase here, is ‘when it works.’ There were several times when I would be right next to a building and press the trigger to swing, only to hear Spidey say, ‘Hey, this just in, web slingers need something to stick to.’ I realise that Spidey, that’s why I’m pressing the trigger on the side where the huge goddamn skyscraper is. Also, there would be times when I had a decent amount of momentum going, swing left, right, left, right consecutively and as I pressed the left trigger again to attach to the building on my left. Then, for some odd reason, Spidey would fire his right hand web shooter, attaching to a distant building on the right. Thus, turning me away from the direction I was swinging and totally ruining my momentum. This was particularly frustrating during boss fights and chase sequences or when swinging against the clock. Still though traversal is fun, – it is not a patch on Spider-Man 2018, but it still holds up fairly well.
Now that the game’s one positive is out of the way, let’s rip this thing apart. Animations are stiff, glitches are common and every cutscene in the game ends abruptly with an awkward animation that resembles the look of a news anchor when they run out of words to read off the teleprompter, but the camera is still rolling. I have no idea why they decided to add a dialogue system, it is so unnecessary and out of place and has absolutely no effect on the outcome of the game’s narrative. It was simply included just for the sake of having a dialogue option.
The plot is fairly standard, but is bearable for the first two thirds of the game, however the point that the publishers told the development team to get a move on and meet the deadline to coincide with the release of the movie becomes instantly clear. The last 5 or so chapters in the game are so rushed it’s like going through a checklist. The first bossfight in the last third of the game is pretty mundane, but at least there is an attempt at a build up to it. However after that fight you are teleported to the top of a skyscraper to battle Electro in a boss fight with the least build up in any game ever developed. So you do that and then you are corrected, this next boss fight with the Green Goblin is the least build up to a boss fight in any game ever developed.
You don’t see the transformation of either Electro or the Goblin and honestly, if I hadn’t seen the movie that goes with this game, I would not have had a clue about what was going on. Then it’s as if the game remembers that they made a half cocked attempt at introducing Carnage away back at the beginning of the story and so they throw in another out of the blue boss fight to end the game. This lack of story build up and context wouldn’t have been acceptable in a PS1 game and therefore it certainly isn’t acceptable here. Also the game again (just like the first one,) tries its best to copy the Arkham games in terms of the stealth and combat systems and fails miserably.
And that is why I wanted to go back and review The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game. Because, games like this, (as in lazy, half baked cash grabs,) just aren’t acceptable in today’s modern landscape of video games. One good thing about game development becoming more expensive is that publishers seem to have clamped down on releasing movie tie-in projects like this. And from someone who wished for a long time that developers would stop wasting everyone’s time with projects like this until they have a dedicated team who genuinely want to make a good game for fans of a franchise, it is great to see.
Unfortunately games-as-a-service style cash grabs seem to have replaced this genre as per Square Enix’s laughably lacklustre 2020 Avengers game. Thankfully studios like Rocksteady and Insomniac are still out there doing good work and putting out quality products.
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