Every year or two they release a new Spider-Man game. Every year or two I get my hopes up that the developers have made a proper follow-up to 2004's Spider-Man 2--the only fun Spider-Man game in recent memory. We're now a decade out from that, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 shares (mostly) the same title as that lone bright spot. Is this the Spider-Man game that will break the long streak of stinkers?
In a way, it's unfair to developer Beenox to hold them to Spider-Man 2's standards. See, Spider-Man 2 wasn't even a very good game. It fell prey to a lot of the movie-game pitfalls--repetitive content, dumb missions, a horrible camera, et cetera.
The swinging, though. Spider-Man 2 was the first game to implement a system where Spidey's webs actually stuck to walls instead of fastening to some invisible helicopter in the sky. I distinctly remember standing in a GameStop in New Jersey, waiting for my dad to finish up shopping at Home Depot or something, transfixed by the way the swinging worked, probably humming the song from the Spider-Man 2 trailer under my breath. (I think it was Vicarious by Dashboard Confessional? Different times.)
Spider-Man 2 was the first game to make me feel like Spidey, which was a big deal--he'd always been one of my favorite superheroes, and I've long thought that web-swinging is a more interesting mode of transportation than flight.
It was easy to put up with all the dumb movie-game garbage in Spider-Man 2 because swinging around Manhattan was such a joy. Keep in mind, this was also an era when expansive open-world games were relatively novel. We'd only had two large-scale Grand Theft Auto games and a handful of knock-offs. There was still a sense of wonder at just moving around an enormous environment, even if you could only enter a handful of buildings and the draw distance was about a hundred feet.
This is what nostalgia results in: impossible standards.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not really that bad, compared to Spider-Man 2. Let me rephrase: "Game released this month" is not really that bad, compared to "Game that came out a decade ago."
After a baffling sidestep into the old "webs attach to skyhooks" mode in 2012's Amazing Spider-Man, Beenox has brought Spidey back into a world governed by physics. His webs are forced to attach to walls or ceilings, which is a step in the right direction. You also affect speed by releasing higher or lower in the arc of your swing.
Swinging still doesn't feel quite right, though. I could never quite get the hang of Spidey's momentum, and it seemed like I swung into walls a bit more often than I'd expect. It also lacks the complexity of Spider-Man 2's system, which allowed for all sorts of high-level maneuvering by accounting for how long you held buttons. Amazing Spider-Man 2 is at least on par with Ultimate Spider-Man (the second-best Spidey game) though, as far as swinging is concerned.
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