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July 25, 2012
The Amazing Spider-man - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Spider-man attached to a car!
Itís hard not to be cynical about movie tie-in games given their rather horrific track record (did anyone play Iron Man?), so youíd be well within your rights to be skeptical of The Amazing Spiderman. However there are a few factors working in favour of the game. Firstly The Amazing Spiderman game is actually an epilogue to the movie of the same name, so you get an all new storyline. Secondly the combat mechanics have been heavily borrowed from the fantastic Batman series. Thirdly, Spiderman games have generally been competent if not spectacular, so with a bit of innovation they could be elevated well above most other movie tie-ins. Have these factors helped make The Amazing Spiderman a game worthy of your time and money? Read on...

Given the events in the game take place a short time from the movie itís going to be hard to avoid spoilers, so if you havenít seen the movie yet youíd be best served by skipping ahead two paragraphs. The game starts with Gwen Stacy, Peter Parkerís girlfriend, taking him for a tour through the Oscorp building. Oscorp, through Dr. Connors, had been working on Ďcross-speciesí experiments where human DNA was mixed with animal DNA. The experiments had terrifying results and it is believed Oscorp is now closing down their cross-species experiments, and are focusing on nanobot research under Dr. Alistaire Smythe.

However early on during the tour Gwen and Peter see a real life cross-species walking around under heavy guard, which suggests the experiments arenít truly over yet. Smythe has created robots that will attack cross-species if they get loose, and during the tour robots and cross-species appear agitated at the sight of Peter Parker Ė after all, Spiderman is the king of cross-species. Before the tour goes much further some cross-species break free, killing or infecting most Oscorp employees in the process. Now it is up to Spiderman to find a cure and rid Manhattan of the cross-species threat.

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Spider-man overlooking the city.
With the scene set youíre now free to take control of Spiderman. The opening chapter is also a tutorial and youíll be shown the basic controls as you make your way through the level. Spidey has excellent Web skills to help him get around, for example tapping R1 performs a Web Rush that quickly pulls Spidey to wherever heís looking. R2 performs a Web Swing which is perfectly suited to getting Spiderman across large gaps, or just speeding up your travels through Manhattan. Spiderman can also interact with things like switches, vents and industrial fans Ė whenever you come across objects like these youíre given an on-screen prompt on the button to press to interact with them.

As mentioned at the top of the review, combat in The Amazing Spiderman closely mirrors that of the Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games. For those unfamiliar with those games hereís the run-down - square attacks, triangle dodges, circle shoots web at your enemies and L1 retreats temporarily (Spiderman web-rushes his way to a nearby wall). Stringing together combinations gives you access to signature moves that take out enemies with a single button press and also boosts the experience earned. During combat Spiderman can also interact with objects like vending machines, and with the push of a button heíll pick these up and launch them at nearby enemies. This is a great technique for rapid crowd-control.

Stealth also plays a role in the game, with stealth takedowns earning a lot of experience, and generally keeping you hidden from other enemies. On the hardest difficulty setting stealth is a key part of the game as youíll lose more battles than you win by taking on a group of enemies head on. Being stealthy is easy enough seeing as Spiderman can stick to any ceiling or wall, and if you do happen to get spotted you can usually jump between walls for a while and eventually the enemies will lose track of you. Itís not always that easy though so it pays to be careful.

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The Amazing Spider-man is on PS3 now.
You earn experience for just about everything you do Ė completing story objectives, side-quests, beating enemies and racking up combinations among other things. Once you earn enough experience to level up you get one point to invest in a character upgrade, i.e. increased attack damage, access to signature moves earlier in your combinations, new Web-Strike skills for when you Web-Rush an enemy and so on. It takes a fair bit of effort to unlock all of the character upgrades Ė completing all side-quests is a must as the story alone wonít earn you enough experience.

There are also plenty of Tech Upgrades to unlock, for which you need tech points, earned by destroying robot enemies or found as a pickup during levels. Tech upgrades do things like improve your web strength to keep enemies immobilized for longer when you Web-shoot them, increase the speed of your Web-shooters and give you new skills for taking enemies down, like permanently sticking them to nearby walls. There are stacks of tech point pickups to find in the game, but even if you donít find all of them you should be able to upgrade everything by the time the story ends.

During story missions youíre in an enclosed area, such as the Oscorp building, the sewers or a bank. In between these missions youíre given the freedom to roam all of Manhattan and complete various side quests to help out the local residents. There are all sorts of side quests to do, from taking sick citizens to medical shelters, returning escaped mental patients to the police, stopping petty crimes (by beating criminals senseless), help break police deadlocks (by beating criminals senseless), help the police end car chases safely and complete Xtreme challenges like races. Youíll also be tasked with taking photos of enemies, finding proof of Oscorpís involvement and various strange goings-on around Manhattan.

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Taking out a thug with a gun!
Most side quests are more filler than fun Ė carrying sick citizens or escaped mental patients around are hardly exhilarating Ė but they arenít overly taxing or tedious. The car chases were the pick of the bunch for me, requiring you to Web-Rush your way to the getaway cars and then fill the windscreen with web by repeatedly bashing circleÖ It may not sound like a ton of fun but thereís something to be said for the thrill of the chase.

One thing that can be said of The Amazing Spiderman is that it doesnít lack for collectibles to find. During story missions there are 166 audio-tapes, magazines, Oscorp manuals and tech point pickups to find. Audio-tapes provide a bit more background to the story and characters, while magazines and Oscorp manuals give you an experience boost.

Thatís not all though - there are a mammoth seven-hundred comic book pages to find (youíre only rewarded with a bronze trophy if you find them all!) around Manhattan Ė six-hundred on the ground or on top of buildings, and one-hundred floating through the air. With so many littered around the place youíll acquire a couple of hundred without trying, but finding all seven-hundred will keep you busy for quite some time.

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The Amazing Spider-man is a decent game.
Your reward for finding these comic pages is access to real comics you can peruse from the main menu, including the very first Spiderman, as well as the first appearance of many of the games lead characters in Spiderman comics. This is a fine inclusion for Spiderman fans, and everyone should get a kick out of reading the very first Spiderman comic.

Somewhat surprisingly the game supports the Playstation Move controller. Less surprisingly the results are a bit mixed. While it takes a while to get used to the controls, they start feeling natural within the first hour. Tapping the trigger makes Spiderman jump, while holding the trigger down makes him Web-swing. You Web-Rush with L2 (if youíre using a normal controller instead of a navigation controller like I was), and L2 also interacts with object. You attack by pushing the Move button, and dodge using Ďxí. The one element I found hard to control using the Move was the camera Ė I couldnít get it to what I wanted to, even though itís supposedly controlled by pointing the on-screen cursor where you want it to go.

The biggest issue with The Amazing Spiderman is that a lot of the side quests arenít particularly enjoyable. Thereís no shortage of things to do, but given they tend to be dull and repetitive you may not be inclined to complete them. That leads us to the fact that The Amazing Spiderman is a short game if you focus exclusively on completing the story. Iíd say the story is around 6-7 hours long if you skip the side quests, and thatís not a lot of bang for your buck. A much smaller issue is that while Spiderman is a joy to control in open spaces, heís a lot harder to control precisely when things get tight or you want to move him small distances. The camera also struggles in these situations, and while it by no means ruins the game, itís still a little frustrating.

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Spidey takes on one massive enemy!
Visually The Amazing Spiderman is solid but not spectacular. Manhattan looks pretty good as you swing your way around town, but given the size of the place, and the speed Spidey swings around at, thereís not a whole lot of detail. The detail improves when you stand still for a while though, and thereís not much pop-up which is a fine effort really. While there is no day/night cycle in the game, you do get to explore Manhattan at various times of day, including night time. Once youíve finished the game you can choose what time of day you want to explore the city in Ė I highly recommend night time if youíre collecting comic book pages because the glow is much more noticeable at night.

Interiors look decent, though the textures are a bit plain up close, and there are lots of jaggies around straight objects like doorframes and filing cabinets. The jaggies are off-putting at first, but it wonít take long before you stop noticing them. On the plus side Spiderman looks great, and the way his suit deteriorates as he takes damage is a neat touch. Whether heís on foot or flying on webs, Spidey moves with a grace and fluidity thatís easy to enjoy. Humans and cross-species look just ok, but some of the robot bosses you fight look fantastic.

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Spider-man way above Manhattan.
The music is of a high standard throughout, sounding just like a blockbuster movie. Iím not sure if the music is taken from the movie but it wouldnít surprise me if it is. The voice acting is well done though itís a little disappointing the actors from the movie arenít involved. Then again Iím only saying that because Iím a big Emma Stone fan and her absence was felt. The sound effects are of a consistently high standard, and little touches like the sound of the wind rushing while you swing around town add to the experience.

The Amazing Spiderman is at the top of the class as far as movie tie-ins go, and itís a decent enough game in its own right. As with every Spiderman game, the feeling of freedom you get while swinging around is empowering, and the combat, derivative as it is, is much improved from previous Spiderman games. The one thing holding the game back is the uninspired and repetitive side quests that may not keep you interested for long. Without them the game is quite short so you may not feel like you got much bang for your buck. That said The Amazing Spiderman is definitely worth checking out if youíre a fan of Spidey or his movies.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSSome really good moments (loved Spideyís suit looking ragged after he took damage) and a few issues (jaggies, ho-hum enemies). Solid overall though.
SOUNDThe score sounds like itís been taken from a blockbuster movieÖ and it probably has. Decent voice acting and excellent effects.
GAMEPLAYImproved combat and intuitive controls make this a step forward from past Spiderman games, but the side quests are uninspired.
VALUEA lot depends on whether you undertake the side quests as they double the games length. A stack of collectibles to be found Ė nearly a thousand all told.
OVERALLAs far as movie tie-ins go The Amazing Spiderman is at the top of the class. Itís not perfect, but if youíve enjoyed Spiderman games in the past or love the movies, this is worth checking out.

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