Spider-Man’s a bit like an old, comfortable pair of shoes. They may not be the smartest pair you own, but they’re the ones you reach for when ease beats style.
From comic-books to the Bakshi cartoons, the TV series, the big screen and the games, we’ve had a splurge of Spidey for 40 years. But we keep going back to him. He is our friendly, neighbourhood superhero.
This movie tie-in game is very much part of that trend. There’s nothing innovative, nothing especially challenging, nothing really new. But it’s Spidey, and it’s enjoyable enough to be swinging through the Manhattan towers once again.
There is, however, one extremely annoying issue: there is no way to save the game. Not even an autosave between chapters. Eject the disk or switch off your console and you’re back to square one.
How exactly do Activision expect this to work? This is the kind of game aimed at casual gamers, not the great, unwashed, caffeine-fuelled game-geek who’ll spend 48 hours playing non-stop to finish it.
Our solution is to leave the console switched on, even when we’re watching TV or playing one of the other consoles. But it won’t last forever – I’m going to want to play a different game on the PS3 eventually.
What I’d hope is they get a patch out to enable saves as soon as possible. If they do that, add one star to my rating, because the gameplay itself isn’t bad.
It isn’t great either, but come on, it’s a movie tie-in, and movie tie-ins are all too often rubbish. This isn’t.
It claims to be an open world game, but it’s certainly no sandbox. Although you can go anywhere, there’s only two kinds of mission available: get an infected citizen to a hospital, or save a civilian from muggers. Oh, and there are comic-book pages to collect, though you can’t actually read them (wouldn’t THAT have been cool).
The main storyline missions are OK, but somewhat repetitive: infiltrate, defeat the minions, tackle the level boss, back to base for the debrief and new mission.
It’s game design by numbers, and I could imagine the pre-production conversation in the design studio.
“Open-world is hot at the moment – we’ve got to put something there.”
“OK, make sure there’s a couple of different missions. What about the sweepers?”
“Give ‘em something to pick up, they’ll be happy. Hey, he’s a comic book hero – make it comic pages.”
“Yeah, actual pages from The Amazing Spider-Man that they can read.”
“No, we’d have to get extra permission from Marvel. Too much effort.”
And that’s what the game feels like all the way through: do the minimum necessary to tick all the right boxes, but don’t try too hard.
That sounds very downbeat, but think about it: it does tick all the right boxes.
Each of the plot missions requires you to find a way into a site, find a way to avoid or defeat the guards and acquire whatever it is you have to collect this time. Frontal assault is a sure way to get killed, so sneak attacks and subtlety are the order of the day, and each infiltration is a little puzzle to be solved.
The storyline is decent enough. It’s set after the movie, and The Lizard has become Spidey’s ally as they attempt to find an antidote to the cross-species virus. That may mean something to someone who’s seen the movie (I haven’t, but I will).
There’s an OsCorp exec who’s heavily into robotics, and he sends his robot hordes out to hunt cross-species (which includes Spidey – that radioactive spider bite, remember). And he’s developing nanobots to cure the virus and remove the cross-species taint from infected people’s blood (again, including Spidey).
All the main missions are tied into this plotline, which means the level bosses are evil cross-species like The Scorpion, or giant robots.
Earn enough experience and collect enough stuff and you’ll be able to improve Spidey’s abilities and the effectiveness of his suit.
It’s standard gaming fare. Aside from the save issue, it’s reasonably well done. The game will neither disappoint you nor delight you, which give a solid average rating of three, less one for the save problem, for a final 2/5 stars.