Fun combat, great 3D, hilarious dialogue
Lack of variety, uninteresting story, bland visuals
Compared to most other movie/comic book franchises, Spider-Man has actually had a pretty good run. Yes, most fans will agree that Spider-Man 2 back in the GameCube era was the highwater mark, and the last few titles didn’t have the best showing on Nintendo consoles, but overall things could be much, much worse. Considering this history, it’s easy to imagine that The Amazing Spider-Man for 3DS really could go either way. Thankfully, it has turned out to be a rather pleasant surprise.
Let’s get the worst out of the way first; this is not the open world game found on PS3 and Xbox 360. It’s possible that Beenox could have squeezed a digital remodeling of New York into the 3DS cartridge, but the fact is they didn’t. But fear not! What they did manage to bring over will probably satisfy a lot of gamers.
Instead of just retelling the movie’s story, the game is actually a follow-up. I don’t want to spoil too much, so to put it simple enough, the same inter-species gene-splicing research that gave Spider-Man and Lizard their power has run amok, with half-human-half-animal hybrids escaping Oscorp and spreading a deadly virus in their wake. Of course it is up to Spider-Man to catch the monsters and cure the plague, and it doesn’t help that Oscorp’s own monster catching robots see Spider-Man as just another hybrid.
Once the story gets rolling, Spider-Man sets up shop in his apartment to keep track of events and help work on a cure, so it becomes the hub of the game with a map of the city displaying the missions and side quests currently available. Most side quests boil down to simple fights, taking down villainous monsters (like Rhino) or beating up on groups of standard baddies. This might sound rather repetitive, but the focus on frequent fighting actually works better than you would expect. But more on that later.
The story missions are much more sophisticated, mixing light exploration and puzzle solving with plenty of combat and a healthy dose of platforming/wall crawling. These portions of the game are very linear but well constructed, featuring varied environments with solid pacing, balancing the major gameplay elements well enough to keep you interested. A few levels might not hold up as well as others, but none of them are ever long enough to keep the game dragged down long enough to impact the overall enjoyment factor.
Regardless of where you are or how much of Spidey’s famous web-slinging you do, I can guarantee you one thing, you will always be having the most fun whenever baddies are involved. Y throws punches, A shoots webs, and touch-screen prompts allow you to dodge or counter whenever the Spidey Sense pops up over the hero’s head. These options might be few in number, but the way they stream together is nothing short of impressive, allowing Spider-Man to move seamlessly among large groups of enemies, dispatching them one by one with some of the most beautifully animated combat I’ve seen in just about any game, not just on 3DS. This is what really makes the game so fun; every encounter captures the sensation of being a powerful superhero amazingly well. It’s actually quite weird, the mechanics are simple enough that it should be repetitious, but it’s presented in such a cinematic manner that it makes it feel so much more rewarding.
Soaring through the air and pulling off acrobatically impressive finishing moves is plenty cool by itself, but the 3D actually enhances it a great deal. The increased depth really brings Spidey’s every move to life, and generally improves just about everything else, especially the larger environments and major boss encounters, which feature some especially cool and very cinematic scenes. Were it not for the great use of 3D, The Amazing Spider-Man wouldn’t be nearly as impressive aesthetically; textures are flat and there is little in the way of attention to smaller details. Each level is distinct in its setting, but nothing really has a wow factor for it, though that could be one of the contributing factors to how the frame rate can keep pace with the action even with 3D all the way up.
When it comes to sound, the game once again delivers some mixed results. The sound effects and music are uninspired and repetitive, but the voice work is actually extremely well done. The movie’s actors might not have contributed their vocal talents to the project, but the people they did get capture the energy of the characters and spirit of the comics and film. The script also helps considerably, because this game is legitimately funny, delivering frequent laughs that are perfectly in line with Spider-Man’s trademarked humor and will definitely satisfy the nerdier gamers out there with some great references to Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and other staples of geek culture.
All that’s left is Vigilante mode, a very strange addition that actually feels more like a Facebook or iOS game. Every day, or through Spot Pass or Play Coins, the player earns Action Points which can be spent to take on missions in different sections of New York. However, the missions are text based, giving gamers a list of options to accomplish the mission and each option has a success rate attached to it. Should you be successful, you earn experience that will level you up, and thus increase your success rate across the board for other missions. Ultimately you unlock every section of New York and take them back from criminals, and then you win. Like I said, this mode is kind of weird; it works perfectly fine and might be interesting to some folks, but I can’t help but think that most gamers will agree with me in that it doesn’t really add or detract anything from the overall experience.
The Amazing Spider-Man for 3DS is a mixed bag of a game that manages to amount to more than the sum of its parts. The combat is incredibly simple and varies little throughout the game, but the sheer power of the character and great flow of combat makes it satisfying and fun to watch. The graphics are really quite bland from a technical and artistic perspective, but the 3D and cinematic use of the camera provide for a game I loved to look at. And on top of it all is some hilarious dialogue that easily makes up for the rather uninteresting story. The end result is a game that is ultimately fun, exceptionally so. One could nitpick it endlessly but that doesn’t change the fact that most people will probably enjoy the game, so as a piece of entertainment this game definitely succeeds.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.