The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun and funny romp through a big, colorful city.

The Good

  • It’s a blast to swing about the city
  • Clever, laid-back sense of humor
  • Some boss fights look very exciting
  • Nice mix of combat and stealth.

The Bad

  • Indoor missions aren’t as fun as outdoor ones
  • Combat and boss fights are too easy.

In The Amazing Spider-Man, the webslinger dispenses quick wit almost as fast as he dispenses justice. More importantly, he gets room to show off his high-flying acrobatics with a freedom his last two outings were lacking. This time, Spidey has the whole of Manhattan as his playground. As you fling yourself above the city, swinging past skyscrapers and vaulting from towers, you get a dizzying sense of what it would be like to slip into the famous red and blue costume.

In the battle of man versus machine, it’s nice to know we come out on top.

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It’s a joy when The Amazing Spider-Man thrusts you into this wide-open world. By holding down a single trigger, you propel webbing from your wrists, swinging in whichever direction you choose. Expectedly, you don’t necessarily see the webbing attach to anything nearby, which is fine: the joyous locomotion is all in the name of fun. Yet the game does a great job of providing the illusion that the laws of physics still vaguely apply. When you swish through a park that isn’t near tall buildings, you stay near the ground, practically brushing the grass underneath you. When surrounded by stately superstructures, you rise toward the heavens, from where you can look upon the entire city and admire its vibrancy.

Out here in the concrete wilds, The Amazing Spider-Man is at its best, simply because moving around is so much fun. Hundreds of collectible comic pages twinkle on rooftops and flutter in the air. They are simple but nice rewards for the act of locomotion. Come near a page, and you hear and see its telltale glimmer, and note the button prompt inviting you to fling toward it. These signs are enough to have you scanning the screen, searching for the elusive paper. But there’s more to the game than webswinging, of course: most of the story-based missions take you off the streets and send you into the sewers and other such interiors. Out in Manhattan, most tasks are optional and involve picking up asylum escapees and returning them to their institution, beating up muggers, and so forth.

Spidey prepares for his yoga lesson.

Spidey prepares for his yoga lesson.

With a couple of exceptions, most of these tasks don’t evolve in any way, and they become stale if you focus on them for too long. One minigame has you hovering a circle over Spidey as he flies through the air automatically; you’re meant to keep him in view of the video camera that follows him. It isn’t very challenging or fun, and in fact, on medium (Hero) difficulty, The Amazing Spider-Man is rarely challenging. Other tasks–rescuing sickly citizens and rushing them to a nearby makeshift hospital–are more enjoyable, in part because of the banter between Spider-Man and his poor passengers. (“No drooling on the suit, please!”) But eventually, the voice samples repeat, and playing paramedic loses some of its appeal. Nevertheless, there are enough things to do that you’ll be thrilled to have the chance to zoom through the air at top speed.

The missions that lead you through the story aren’t as delightful as the open-world hijinks, though the story itself is as wonderfully absurd as any Spidey tale to come before it. The game begins (apparently) after the events of the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man film, with a tour of the Oscorp facility, where the corporation is winding down some unusual experiments. Well, not everything is on the up-and-up, and soon a viral outbreak has the city in turmoil. Peter/Spider-Man’s response? Break out an asylum inmate who holds the key to a cure. With so many variables, it’s no wonder that Spidey’s plans don’t follow their intended script, though he stays pretty upbeat throughout. Spider-Man is as funny here as he’s ever been, cracking wise in even the most stressful situations. The dialogue is a good mix of seriousness and ridiculousness, making it easy to stick with the plot even when it goes so far over the top it spills into bizarre territory.

Why do all the punching yourself, when there's a nice heavy statue nearby?

Why do all the punching yourself, when there’s a nice heavy statue nearby?

Story-driven chapters are notably more confining than the free-form gameplay that surrounds them. You investigate dull-looking sewers, where you notice technical drawbacks like heavy aliasing that go overlooked in Manhattan, which is saturated with color and personality. In the indoor spaces, you confront hazards like steam valves (clog them up with your web shots!) and pools of acid (navigate around them!). You must take a more cautious approach, holding down a button to slow down time, choosing a proper perch, and then releasing the button to leap to that spot. You can tap the button should you prefer a more fluid pace, but you risk zipping into the wrong position if you aren’t careful.

The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun and funny romp through a big, colorful city.

By Kevin VanOrd