After Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, developer Beenox became Activisions official Spider-Man studio. Their followup game, Edge of Time, didn’t quite live up to their debut but now it’s apparent that the reason for its drop in quality is that talent and resources were likely working on the movie-tie in for The Amazing Spider-Man.
Dropping the level-based gameplay from their previous games, Beenox returns Spidey to the open world gameplay the previous movie-based games featured. Now, to be honest, it’s been way too long since I’ve played Spider-Man 2 to compare the swing mechanics; but they’ve done a great job with the webslinging here so much that the New York areas of the game are the most fun. Swinging feels natural and never clunky as it did in Spider-Man 3 and the web zip first-person targeting makes it easy to get to precise locations.
The game is split between open world swinging around New York where you can complete side missions to help out innocent citizens, and indoor areas where you’re fighting various enemy types while heading to a boss or other objective. Combat in the game is very similar to the Batman: Arkham games, but is more agile to fit with Spidey’s repertoire of moves. Objectives are pretty straightforward, there’s nothing really groundbreaking here, but it never feels tedious and the pacing never gets in the way.
There are a ton of collectibles to get in the game, but the coolest are comic pages scattered around New York and collecting them will unlock actual digital comics within the extras menu. There are some classic issues included, so comic fans would want to spend the time hunting down the pages to read the books.
It’s set as an epilogue of sorts to the film, so characters from the movie do show up (and it does spoil who survives the movie, if you haven’t seen it), but the movie cast isn’t present to do the voices. The story is that citizens of New York are being mutated into cross species monsters, which is where Spidey villains such as Rhino and Scorpion come into play. They’re not the comic versions, but versions more based on the movie Lizard.
Graphically, parts of the game look amazing while others not so much. The indoor areas can appear a bit bland with boring geometry and enemy models, while the New York area looks fantastic and Spidey always looks great swinging around and in closeups. Later in the game, when the sun sets in New York, there’s some excellent lighting effects going on with police spot lights illuminating Spidey and very large bosses as you fight over the city.
In the end, we’ve all played open-world Spider-Man games in the past. Beenox’s does it with sometimes impressive graphics and a decent combat system, and the unlockable digital comics is a pretty cool extra to reward the collect-a-thon. It’s a big improvement over Edge of Time, so Beenox has two good Spider-Man games under their belt. Hopefully their next original game continues the trend.