Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Wii U)


By Marc Deschamps. Posted 05/19/2014 13:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Graphics; Web-Slinging; Solid cast of Villains; Tons of fan-service
Poison Mushroom for...
Atrocious load times; "Hero or Menace" System; Not a whole lot to do with the movie it's based on

For my tenth birthday, I received Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie for Super Nintendo. While I liked the game, there was something odd about it. It occurred to me that it didn’t seem to have much at all to do with the movie it was supposed to be based on. Sure, Ivan Ooze showed up for the final battle, and Ninja Megazord made a cameo, but the majority of the title featured enemies from the television show. While I was playing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for this review, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. There was a lot that I enjoyed during my time with the title, but calling it a movie tie-in seems like a bit of a stretch.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 starts off by recreating the death of Uncle Ben from the previous film. It’s a jarring and effective way to start the game. While many fans complained that the most recent film ignored this part of Spider-Man’s story, it’s an interesting mission statement to have his death placed so prominently at the start of the game. It also shows very early on that this is going to be quite different from the film it’s based upon. It doesn’t stop there, either. Gwen Stacy, who played an integral role in the previous game and film, doesn’t appear once. She’s mentioned twice in passing. The film’s villains, Electro and the Green Goblin, appear less than Kraven or the Kingpin. And the Rhino, who actually appeared in the previous game, is completely absent. Given that reviews for the film were mixed, some fans might not mind this fact, but it’s jarring to say the least.

The death of Uncle Ben is just the first sequence in which the player controls Peter Parker, rather than Spider-Man. It’s one of the newer elements that Beenox and Activision have added to the title, and it works well as a change of pace. Several times throughout the story, players will have to talk to other characters as Peter to gather information. In one particular level, you’ll even duck into a closet to switch between Parker and Spider-Man. These sequences do little more than push forward the narrative, but with a bit more polish and maybe some stealth elements peppered in, this could be a really welcome addition to the franchise. Hopefully Activision will continue to develop this concept. There’s certainly potential, there.

Last year, Activision brought the previous Amazing Spider-Man game over to Wii U in the form of an Ultimate Edition, with all of the game’s digital content already on the disc. While this game doesn’t have the same amount of bonus features, the core experience is tighter overall. Spider-Man’s web-slinging has been improved, the locations are a lot more varied and exciting, and there’s a lot more to do in New York City, though it does still feel a bit on the empty side. One area in which the game swings over the previous title is in the villains that Spidey must face. While the Spider-Slayer boss fights were large and imposing, the battles with the Cross-Species enemies were dull to say the least. Mindless enemies like Vermin and Iguana weren’t that much to get excited about. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, however, brings in some of Spider-Man’s best rogues. Besides the aforementioned Electro and Green Goblin, the web-slinger must face the Black Cat, Kingpin, Kraven the Hunter, and more. I would venture to say that the line-up is better than a Spider-Man game has seen in years, if not ever. And the boss fights are fun and never feel too repetitive or easy.

The thing that really gets The Amazing Spider-Man 2 some extra credit from me is the fact that Beenox and Activision show a lot of love for the character in this game. The game is packed with references and in-jokes that Spider-Man’s biggest fans will smile over. Never in my life did I think I would see a game that makes multiple references to the Slingers, let alone allowed me to have Spider-Man wear their costumes. Fans of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man comics will get a laugh when they hear Peter Parker unleashing fat jokes during the Kingpin boss fight. Advertisements for the “aPhone” appear in Times Square. These little details really add up, and help make the experience a lot more charming. While Sony has expressed a desire to build a connected film universe similar to Marvel’s Avengers franchise, this game does a much better job of showing what you can do with Spider-Man’s various enemies and rogues than the recent film did. This game is a celebration of Spider-Man, through and through.

That isn’t to say that this title doesn’t have its share of weaknesses, though. For one, the load times are inexcusably bad. While that might sound hyperbolic, I’ve seen original PlayStation titles load faster than some of The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s levels. It’s annoying at best and baffling at worst. I found myself dreading dying in a level based entirely on the fact that I would have to wait for the game to load up again. In 2014, it’s hard to imagine waiting up to a minute or more for a game to load.

Another problem is the game’s new “Hero or Menace” system. Conceptually, it’s a neat idea. The populace of New York City will view Spider-Man as one or the other based on how often the hero stops to help civilians. Spider-Man must beat up crooks, foil car chases, rescue people from burning buildings, and more if he wants to keep the city on his side. The variety is great, but recycling one of the most irritating aspects from The Amazing Spider-Man hampers it. In the previous game, Spider-Slayer robots often pursued Spider-Man throughout the city. This time around, it’s a Task Force employed by Harry Osborn, and if you fall short on your heroic duties, they’ll hound you once again. With a free-roaming version of New York to explore, this is grating to say the least, particularly if you do get killed while just trying to reach the next level. Suddenly, the load times and the “Hero or Menace” system combine into one, larger irritant. One would hope this would go away after the main game is finished, but a post-credits scene gives an in-universe rationale for the insufferable Task Force to stick around, hampering even the game’s replay value.

Players looking for a ton of originality probably won’t find a lot of that, either. While the game is really fun for someone that’s been a Spider-Man fan as long as I have, there isn’t really a lot here that hasn’t been seen before. The experience is tighter overall than the last game, and the best Spider-Man film adaptation since the other Spider-Man 2, but it’s still a fairly traditional experience. The open-world New York City remains largely unchanged from The Amazing Spider-Man, and the combat system hasn’t changed all that much, either. Both have certainly been polished up, but the fact is, there are better superhero titles on this console.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun, but flawed. It doesn’t deliver a very unique experience, nor does it at all deliver a faithful adaptation of the film it’s supposed to be based on. But as a longtime Spider-Man fan, I still had a really good time with it. The graphics are great, the faithfulness to the character’s continuity is impressive, and the game’s boss fights are fun. If you’re a diehard Spider-Man fan, you can probably see past the problems, but if you’re feeling a little burned out on Activision’s other recent Spider-Man games, you might want to look elsewhere.

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.

One Response to “Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Wii U)”

  • 207 points
    Jon Stevens says...

    I tried the first game and just didn’t like the web swinging mechanics, so it’s good to hear that this has been improved.

    I’ll have to give it a go when I get a chance.

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