Movie tie-ins have become somewhat of a plague within the gaming world. I'm not talking the bubonic level, we’re not all running for shelter in dreaded fear of being exposed, it's more a slight plague such as an annoying flu or simple cold which dulls the senses. As soon as a game related to a movie is announced, we collectively sigh and know to expect small budgets, rushed development and an overall sloppy or abysmal experience.
Sometimes though, there are a few that manage to dig themselves out of this pre-fashioned grave, and do a good job. Spiderman 2 was one of these titles, doing the best job ever of making you feel like the web head himself. Spiderman did so well in fact, no game really matched it until The Amazing Spider man back in 2012.
Two years on and a sequel to the rebooted series, starring that oh so fabulous Emma Stone (or Andrew Garfield for some) and another tie in beckons, but can it live up to its predecessors? I mean, can it really?
Well, no not really. It tries but in so many ways unfortunately manages to fall all too short of the mark. I suppose the more pessimistic amongst you could argue that after the Xbox One release debacle that we should have known what to expect, but I remained oblivious and happy to believe that this was no sign of a poor game but simply an argument between business partners, over something which we may never know about in full detail.
However, not more than a mere few minutes into the game and I immediately saw, or rather experienced, a problem. No, I'm not talking about the rather awful voice acting (none of the movies actors appear here of course) and nope, I'm not even talking about the fact that the story completely rewrites the movie and its character interaction in every way.
For me, the big gripe was movement itself. Swinging around town as the friendliest of neighbourhood spidermen just lacked all sense of fun and somehow, became a complicated task.
While gliding through the air, the right and left triggers will shoot a web from the right and left side respectively, commanding that you actually have a building on the correct side for Spiderman to swing from. Commendable for Beenox to try and add a sense of realism to this superhuman feat, but certain issues muddy up the concept. For starters, it only takes 1 to 2 swings in order to reach heights above the very skyscrapers you need in order to travel, meaning at least 50-60% of your time will be spent falling and listening to Peter Park shout at you for trying to defy physics.
After some time you’ll get a bead on this annoyance but theres more to swamp your need for speed and fluid motion. You see, once you've reached a wall, that same trigger for swing right, also controls wall running but TAS2 often confuses and disregards the concept of wall running, leaving you stuck on the side of the building while time ebbs further and further away from your grasp (that is of course, if you're not already stuck bouncing into and away from said wall like a ping pong ball)
Web rush makes a return but again, is just too fiddly to use at any sort of speed, requiring your cursor be perfectly in line with a ledge of the games choosing (no, you cant choose any point to rush too, only select ones) meaning that once again, if you're in a rush it's better to go slow and steady than bother trying to speed up as this can only end in chaos.
This need to slow down in order to swing steady around the streets of New York just doesn't match up with the tasks thrown your way. As with any town inhabited by a superhero, there is an extremely large amount of crime going down on a constant basis, from fires related to arson, break-ins, car-jackings, muggings, you name it! The problem being, if you ignore any of these for too long, you’ll need to rush over quick snap and help out, otherwise a handy little ‘hero meter’ will start entering the minus stages, showing just how little faith the citizens of New York have in young Spidey. Some of the crimes themselves, require speed to complete which again seems unbalanced and at times impossible to adhere to. I often found myself at the scene of a fire, only able to rescue 1 of 3 citizens before the clock sped by and reporters labelled me a coward who fled the scene.
Eventually you’ll grow to ignore your hero meter as it becomes more and more impossible not to miss a crime, even if you chose to focus on the main story line, you’ll find yourself losing points in the time it takes you to get from A to B.
Enemy AI doesn't fair much better, I chose to clear the game on the highest difficulty to see how the challenge shaped up and while some enemies were genuinely a challenge, the vast majority of bosses took almost no time at all, while the usual suspects within the bad AI crew made a triumphant return. Thats right, you can expect to fight ‘I have no gun in my hands yet I fire bullets man’ or ‘I stand here and take a beating dude’ along with my personal favourite ‘Im staring at this rather interesting blank wall as you senselessly destroy my comrades guy’
This was probably the strangest of problems considering TAS2 fighting system is pretty solid, much like the Arkham series, you’ll unlock combos and have to remember those counter attacks in order to take on groups of bad guys all at once. As the fights get bigger, it feels more and more rewarding, it's simply a shame that bad AI makes this plateau far too early on.
Thanks to the fighting system and the large array of costumes for you to unlock, it's not a complete train wreck. There are even some rather cool nods to the sinister six movies that are currently planned as well as Stan Lee finally making his appearance as a character you can always visit and have a good chin wag, but with annoying web slinging mechanics, tiresome and hugely repetitive side missions which ultimately feel pointless and a huge betrayal of the movie it actually follows, The Amazing Spiderman 2 just misses the mark.