2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Video Game Review – “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″

Published: May 6, 2014, 1:13 pm, by Terry Terrones

amazing-spiderman-2-video-game

Title: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Format: PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Price: $49.99-$59.99
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
The Grade: B

What is it? Launching alongside the film of the same name, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a new third-person action-adventure video game. This title builds on the story from the previous game in the series with an alternative take on the events of the upcoming movie, while also giving players a free-roaming experience through an expanded New York City. Throughout his journey, Spider-Man will encounter a number of new foes as well as some old friends, as he confronts a new threat to his city.

The good:
A new Spidey story. While this game has a connection to the movie, gamers can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not a direct tie-in. “Spidey 2” takes place outside the events of the second film in a unique narrative where Spider-Man discovers a larger threat to NYC that has turned the underworld upside down. Villains from the film as well as fan-favorite classic Marvel characters like Kingpin and Kraven the Hunter are woven into a story that puts players on a collision course with evildoers.

A Peter Parker sighting. The narrative gives Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s nerdy photojournalist persona, a greater role. When you’re not on a mission, you can hop on the subway and visit Aunt May’s house as Peter Parker. In your childhood bedroom, you can open your closet and equip any Spidey costume you’ve acquired, or take care of personal business. Sorry, a Gwen Stacy dating mini-game is not included.

Look, it’s Stan Lee! Much to my surprise comic icon Stan Lee has a small role. He plays a comic book storeowner named, surprise, Stan. In the game he’s an old family friend and you can visit his store to read actual comics that are found in-game, check out items you’ve collected while playing and even practice your fighting skills. It’s a nice touch; especially since the real Stan Lee voices the character.

The bad:
Hero or menace?
The Hero or Menace feature is Spider-Man’s reputation system. As crimes and disasters pop up around Manhattan, Spider-Man will be judged (fairly or not) by the media and authorities for his ability to keep New Yorkers safe. The problem with this system is it dilutes the game’s open world feel. Sure you can web-sling around New York City, but if you ignore the crimes on your mini-map for too long, Spidey will face a task force armed with drones and traps that hunts you down. The Hero or Menace system doesn’t really give you a choice on what kind of Spider-Man you’d rather be. If you don’t want to be constantly pestered, hero it is.

Spidey 1.5. The first “Amazing Spider-Man” game that tied in with the rebooted films was released in 2012. This game doesn’t look much different when it comes to game presentation and playing style. Also familiar to gamers who’ve played the previous Spidey games will be the fighting system. There have been some combat enhancements but “Spidey 2” still feels more like an homage to the excellent “Batman: Arkham” series, or even, oddly enough, the first “Spider-Man 2” game from 2004 (widely regarded as one of the best superhero games ever), than a game that advances or improves the genre.

The verdict: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” can feel derivative at times, mimicking what has worked in better designed, more popular Marvel releases. That’s not necessarily a bad thing however as the games it imitates are well made and fun. Even with some flaws, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” packs enough punch for gamers looking for some superhero action.

Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamesBeat, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.