The Amazing Spider-Man 2: It’s only got that swing

May 5, 2014


Games starring everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero, Spider-Man, have had a rough history. The majority of them turn out bad, or at least underwhelming, but there have been a few exceptions. Titles such as Spider-Man 2 and Web of Shadows have managed to put Spider-Man in an environment that is perfectly suited to his abilities by including an open world to explore and a combat system that feels in tune with his fighting style.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is another in a long line of games hoping to recapture the magic from those success stories, but it stumbles far more than it succeeds. If you know anything about Spider-Man and his previous game incarnations, you know that it’s all about the web-swinging. It’s one of the central aspects of past open-world Spider-Man titles, and Beenox nails it here. Each trigger controls a different hand while swinging and you can only shoot a web when you’re near buildings, meaning you won’t be swinging from imaginary platforms in the sky like you would in past games. The actual swinging, as well as Spider-Man’s animation, is fluid and makes moving through New York City something I never grew tired of. It’s one of the few Spider-Man games that perfectly handles the feeling of being Spider-Man.


It may take some getting used to, but once you have a handle on the swinging mechanics (and traversal as a whole), you’ll be able to zip across the city in no time. The web rush from the first Amazing Spider-Man is back, and fits right in with Spidey’s speedy swinging, allowing you to slow down time and move to a specific point with precision. It can be finicky at times, but it always helped keep the momentum flowing when I mis-timed a swing.

Of course, swinging around a giant playground isn’t too enjoyable if there isn’t much to do. This is the part where I want to say the game is full of exciting side activities to keep you busy for hours, but no, NYC is rather lifeless this time around. There is little variety in what you can actually do outside of the main story and what is available is dull. You have missions that involve you taking pictures for the Daily Bugle, which are about as exciting as they sound, and others that involve you taking down groups of thugs with stolen gear. There are a number of time trials and collectibles as well, but all of it felt thrown together at the last minute.

New to the open world is the Hero system. Throughout the game, random crimes will appear on the map for you to stop and doing so slowly fills up a meter. If you’re actively taking care of these repetitive crime waves, you will remain a hero, but if you ignore them for too long, you’ll be reported as a menace. Being a menace means you have to deal with obstacles set out to stop you as you travel across New York City, which turns the game’s most enjoyable aspect, the traversal, into a chore.


This system is exciting in theory, as it forces you to keep your eyes out for crimes and makes sure you never stay too focused on one particular objective or set of missions. You are Spider-Man, after all. The implementation of it, however, is awful. These random crimes will expire after a set time, and I often found myself too far away to stop them beforehand. It wasn’t long before my Hero meter drained simply because I couldn’t travel fast enough to stop a couple of petty crimes all the way across the city. This wasn’t just an occasional issue; it was a common occurrence. It’s a frustrating system that only hurts, not helps, the player for attempting to play by its rules.

It wouldn’t be a Spider-Man game without fighting baddies. Amazing Spider-Man 2 borrows the now-famous Batman Arkham series combat, but doesn’t utilize it particularly well. As expected, it focuses on two basic buttons, attack and dodge, and because Spider-Man is a lot quicker than Batman, the combat is meant to move faster than the series it’s inspired by. Unfortunately, the sloppy animation, awful camera and sometimes non-responsive controls made the combat feel off. Some enemies require you to use specific moves or abilities to defeat them, but you can take out most of your opponents with simple button mashing. It’s a messy adaptation of a brilliant system.


In an attempt to make the web-swinging just as good as it was in some of the earlier Spider-Man titles, the team at Beenox clearly went all out in making sure it felt perfect. Unfortunately, the rest of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is poorly cobbled together and a pale imitation of better superhero games. Swinging around NYC is just fun enough to make you forget about the game’s countless other problems, but only briefly.

Pros: Brilliant web-swinging mechanics
Cons: Messy combat, very little variety, the Hero system is terrible

Score: 2/5

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