Friday, 13 July 2012

Game Review: The Amazing Spider-Man - The Game

Set after the events of the film of the same name, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man – The Game’ follows Spider-Man, the wall crawler is the one hope to save New York City when a virus goes citywide. Having to team up with an old adversary Spider-Man must race to find an antidote and simultaneously thwart a new threat.

It’s the same story you’ve seen a dozen times in recent games (in fact it’s pretty much the same story as Prototype), there’s no real originality and very seldom does the plot actually entertain. The second-stringers from Spidey’s expansive rogues gallery provide most of the game’s villainy such as Scorpion, Rhino and Alistair Smythe, it was nice to see their appearance but at the same time annoying due to how poorly they were adapted. Smythe is quite a complex character in the comics and really came into his own during ‘Spider-Man: The Animated Series’ so it was a real shame to see him shown simply as an atypical evil scientist antagonist. There are no shocks or twists and turns in the plot and it never evolves to decent but it has to be given some kudos for going against the movie game trope of repeating the same story as the film.

This game's version of Rhino.

The poor graphical quality of this game is not what would have been considered “bad graphics” 10 years ago but by today’s standards it doesn’t match up. You see today games are designed using a universal engine such as the ‘Unreal’ engine, this is basically a template from which the developers can alter to suit their game, this engine also provides a basic quality of graphics from which the developer can adjust and customize to suit their needs. Any developer worth their salt adjusts this so that their game looks unique; the developers who simply rush a game or don’t care enough about it to really customise their creations are left with character models with not very much detail and bland environments. The result in this game thanks to it being based off a film is that the character models look appallingly dissimilar to the real-life counterparts, just as an example Gwen Stacy looks so unlike Emma Stone that the only way to recognise her character without a familiar voice or face is by the fact that she has blonde hair and a hairband, yeah it’s that amateurishly created. Whilst there are occasional graphical highlights such as the detail on Spider-Man’s suit or some aspects of the game’s Manhattan, they just get lost in a sea of bland design.

The game tries to encourage an attitude of stealth versus combat in order to deal with situations. This aspect is a far cry from the rich diversity of dealing with situations present in games like ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’, here the system amounts to barely more than the choice between all out attack and oversimplifying stealth, in the case that the player simply chooses attack they must defeat an onslaught of enemies using a bastardisation of the Batman Arkham series' fight mechanics. In the case that the player choses to proceed stealthily they will soon find how broken this side of the combat is, by sneaking up on enemies either by wall-crawling or by ground the player can perform a stealth takedown to deal with the enemy quietly. In a decision that would cause Hideo Kojima to vomit on cue the player has the ability to retreat to a hidden position once seen by the enemy at the touch of a button, ultimately making the stealth option a way to clear out any room with zero difficulty and another layer of terrible design.

The gameplay is blatantly stolen from the recent Batman Arkham Asylum/City games, the unique Batman gameplay is not suited to Spider-Man at all and it ends up as a disgusting amalgamation between sometimes first person and other times close over the shoulder gameplay, if there’s one way you do not want to play a Spider-Man game it is over the shoulder, this means that the action is mostly outside of your vision and you get confused as to which direction you’re heading in. Most importantly THE WEB SLINGING SUCKS. This awful choice of perspective led to me experiencing headaches and nausea after only 15 MINUTES OF PLAYING! I’d like to point out that I am a person who has never experienced anything akin to these symptoms when playing a range of games, I have heard that some people get sick playing even 1st person games but not me, I’ve never had this difficulty. So when I say that after a short period of playing I was experiencing the same sensation as motion sickness you know it’s a real problem.

The camera is pretty much always at this angle.

My big problem with the web-swinging aspect of the game is that they reverted back to methods from the earliest of Spider-Man video game outings where it did not matter if there was an available place to swing a web from as Spider-Man would pretty much glide along on webs even across an open space. After a few minutes of this I found myself yearning for games like ‘Spider-Man 2’ and ‘Spider-Man 3’ where each web felt unique as you swung from it and where the player was aware that they would have to plan each subsequent web swing in their trip through the city, it felt exhilarating and it is sadly missed. There are a few novel concepts such as the cinematic representation of web-swinging which was most likely intended to replicate similar scenes from the film and the personal feeling attributed to the camera being so close to Spider-Man, however these fall flat almost instantly when they become a hindrance more than anything else. A shoehorned in photography aspect was the final nail in this game’s coffin for poor controls and lack of originality in the execution.

Aside from the terrible plot and horrible dialogue there are some shocks to be had. Not story wise but content wise, some of the writing is actually….good? This game seems so bi-polar I don’t know what to make of it, it’s this awful disgrace to the Spider-Man name and then all of a sudden there are some touches that make me think at least some people in the crew actually gave a crap about the character. Whist these instances are very seldom they still rang true as genuine fan input such as Star Wars references and Spider-Man mythology in-jokes. No matter how well intentioned these instances however they do not in any way redeem this game from the depths of mediocrity it dwells in.

The voice cast is entirely made up of actors who specialise in voice acting, whilst professional voice actors are incredibly good at their jobs (including the great list of names onboard this game such as Steve Blum and Nolan North) it doesn’t make a lick of difference when they’re voicing horrendous dialogue and attempting to do an impression of the actor from the film. The result is a game where the voices are confusing to those who saw the film and mediocre to those haven’t, clearly in this case the cast are more gifted than their material.

Oh, and there's a Stan Lee costume.

As the story carried on and the stakes were heightened I found myself becoming used to the game and its flaws, it was here where I finally found some enjoyment, though this does take around 4 or 5 of the games 6 hour story to arrive at. Suddenly I wasn’t so annoyed at the perspective, I wasn’t so infuriated by the graphics and brainless plot, it’s actors seemed more natural and its dialogue more fluid, I discovered that when I lowered my expectations I could derive the aspects where this game succeeded.

The creation of this game seriously baffles me. Everything about it is cheap and thrown together, it is clear that absolutely no thought or passion was present during its creation through its basic level design, sub-par graphics and dismally generic concepts. It is a terribly thought-out cash-in on the interest in the recent film; whilst there are some rare moments of good humour throughout they do not redeem what is essentially a huge middle finger to the folks who picked up this game to enjoy playing as the iconic wall-crawler.

Overall I’d have to declare this game as the worst Spider-Man iteration I’ve ever played (and there have been some real stinkers). Its poor plotting; messy controls and uninspired design seriously pissed me off. There are the occasional whiffs of cleverness present in the dialogue leading me to believe that at least a few people on the team creating this game didn’t have their view obstructed by their own colon. Bottom line though is don’t play this awful rape of the Spider-Man name, but if you’re still especially eager to torture yourself I bet there’s a car door just waiting to slam on your fingers for a fraction of the price of this game.

No comments:

Post a Comment