Your favorite arachnoid avenger swings his way onto the mobile platform!
Review By: Patrick Anderson
In the world of video games, there is, perhaps, no genre that gets less love than the dreaded Movie Tie-In. The very phrase itself evokes awful memories in the minds of gamers, images of a blocky E.T. collecting Reeses Pieces on the Atari 2600, and the resulting New Mexico landfill that still serves as a warning against the dangers of rushed, uninspired game design. But, there is also a glimmer of hope – after all, 1997’s GoldenEye on the N64 proved that movie tie-in games can be good, if they’re done right. So, is Gameloft’s The Amazing Spider Man for iOS and Android destined to be another dud or a rare classic?
Well, put it this way: start digging that pit. Ok, let’s be fair – a small pit. It is not a colossal failure on the level of 1982’s E.T. But it is flawed in some fundamental ways. Some of them are technical, and some are less tangible, but they all result in an uninspired affair that feels, as Tie-Ins often do, as if it was pushed to market too quickly in order to expedite the needs of movie promoters, and not gamers. There are a few cool moments here, but overall, The Amazing Spider-Man HD is just not fun to play.
Alone In New York And Nothing To Do
The first problem, and one of the biggest, is the game’s environment. Playing the role of Spider Man, you inhabit the city of New York, which is presented here as if it were an “open world” sandbox that you could, in theory, explore and swing around in, in the style of a Grand Theft Auto game. Cool, right? Well, unfortunately, the city, while fairly large and expansive to be sure, bears little resemblance to the real New York. Hey, I understand that you cannot fit the entire Big Apple into a game, especially not a mobile one, but come on, throw in a few genuine buildings at least. I would expect to see a Chrysler building, for example, or even the World Trade Center Memorial would have been a nice touch. Hell, just put the image of the Statue of Liberty in the distance – we don’t even need to be able to actually go there. But no, this is a generic “downtown core” that, to me, really set a half-hearted tone for the entire game. On the HUD map provided in the game, there are the areas of “Times Square” and “Central Park” marked. Great – I shot off to check these out. Well, Times Square is just another deserted intersection with a few billboards. And Central Park is just a small square of green with a pond in it. Otherwise, these locations are no more distinct than any other part of the city.
This odd lack of realism was only made worse by the eerily sterile, unpopulated street-level environments. There is simply no reason to “explore” here, unless you enjoy seeing deserted roadways and empty storefronts. Every once in a while, the game will pop-in a “pedestrian” in front of you out of pity, but this only caused more problems, since everyone in this city appears to be a clone of one of maybe 5 original inhabitants (now THAT might have been a good game...). Case in point: between levels in the main mission, I was unintentionally entertained when confronted by two “Anarchists”, who were identical characters wearing the same outfit! Seriously, they couldn’t even create two separate character models for a mission cut-scene?
The graphical textures and models are also very rough and unpolished. Building facades become ugly and blurry up close, and people’s faces show themselves to be last-gen mannequins during conversations – I mean, their mouths don’t even move when they talk. While I was climbing a building, the reflection of the windows showed a sideways reflection. Yikes. All of this made it difficult to suspend my disbelief as a gamer, and immerse myself in this world.
Playing The Amazing Spider-Man had its moments of fun, to be sure. Swinging on Spider-Man’s webs through the city is a neat experience, and I did not play the console versions of this game, so this part was a cool new experience for me. And it pretty-much does work, although your Spidey will veer off to the left or right without warning, so you will struggle at times to stay on your desired path. My advice: If you have a choice, play this on an iPhone or Andoid phone rather than a tablet. I played it on both, and I definitely found swinging and moving to be much easier when holding a smaller device.
More Of A To-Do List Than Real Missions
As for the missions in this game, however, I was not all that impressed. There are 25 parts to the Main Mission, which sounds like a lot, but many of these involved finding a person in trouble and then beating up their attackers. Yup, that was a “mission.” It's both sparse and tedious. Granted, there is a bit of variation in these tasks, especially after you put some time into the game – sometimes you might have to jump over things, other times you have to take pictures – but they all felt like chores to me. Honestly, I spent much of my time just swinging around the city, putting off my next “mission” as long as possible. Oh, and there are “side missions” too – but all this means is that you periodically have to fight-off random dudes who come at you with bats – and judging by appearance, most of them were 50 Cent. If there is one thing The Amazing Spider Man HD did, it was to make me appreciate just how awesome Grand Theft Auto is.
The fighting that you do looks pretty good – you punch, kick, shoot webs and get combos for mixing them up, but most of the time it boiled down to your basic button-mashing. The game adds tension to missions with a timer, however, it only reveals your opponents a few at a time – I often waited, as seconds ticked off my “time limit,” for the game to show me my next target! Surely, that is not supposed to happen.
The Amazing Spider-Man HD is not the worst game I have ever played, it’s just that it could have been so much more. It could have had a real sandbox, with real missions and quality, life-like graphics. It could have had a compelling story that took advantage of the limitlessly-rich Marvel and Spider-Man universe. But it’s only a mobile app, you say? Hey, Grand Theft Auto III, out on mobile for months, is only 99 cents, right now. And it has all of these things. No, the days of developers being able to churn out half-baked games like The Amazing Spider-Man – for $6.99! – on the mobile platform and expect people to buy them are over. There are just too many quality choices out there now. Mobile gamers, do yourself a favor – skip this one and buy GTA III instead.
Final Score: 45%
Too Bad -- We can no longer recommend this quality of game in its current state. Even its fans wouldn’t be able to. Whatever redeeming qualities it has are only ever brought up with “yeah, but at least It…”