Spider blood…spider blood…radioactive spider blood

The Amazing Spider-Man marks Beenox’s third Spider-Man game in as many years, after 2010’s Shattered Dimensions and 2011’s Edge of Time. But unlike the Quebec-based developer’s previous representations of everyone’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, this title marks a return to classic form for Spidey, as Beenox finally takes a shot at inserting Marvel’s webhead into an open-world New York City.

Taking place immediately after the events of the alternate-universe movie from which the game draws its inspiration, Amazing Spider-Man sees Spidey once again saving the city from a cataclysmic threat—and he’ll need to forge unusual alliances in order to overcome the hurdles thrown his way. And that’s all I’ll divulge; while the game spoils elements of the movie, I won’t ruin anything when it comes to the plot. Just trust me when I say that whether you’re for or against this Spider-Man relaunch, the Amazing Spider-Man spins an intriguing tale that features lots of entertaining callbacks from the wall-crawler’s history that’ll have old-school fans cheering—yet it still stays true to the new universe that the folks at Sony Pictures created for the film.

The most marked difference in Beenox’s open world comes from the camera angle; it pulls in tight on Spidey as he swings through a beautifully rendered digital Manhattan. This up-close, personal feel really imparts the proper sensation of swinging at high speeds through the concrete canyons. Unfortunately, when Spidey moves into indoor areas—such as when he infiltrates labs or goes deep into the sewers—the zoomed-in camera becomes a hindrance, as it makes wall-crawling and combat much more difficult.

And speaking of combat, that element sees an overhaul as well, as it takes a page from Batman: Arkham City and offers Spidey a new counter system. But instead of wavy lines appearing above enemy heads à la Arkham City, they appear above Spidey’s noggin as an indication that his Spider-Sense is tingling—and using the wall-crawler’s inherent super-agility to pull off impressive combos definitely feels rewarding. But the zoomed-in camera makes it difficult to see where all the enemies are at a given time—and to know just when you’re in or out of trouble. As a result, using Spider-Sense really becomes necessary, as many enemies like to lurk just off-camera.

Another new addition to Spidey’s arsenal is the Web Rush maneuver. Old-school fans will immediately see similarities to the Web Zip move from older Spider-Man games, but the Web Rush is interesting because you can pull it off just about anywhere, anytime—the game’s engine calculates, in real time, how Spidey would naturally get from Point A to Point B. Sure, the animation makes it look like he’s floating instead of actually using his superagility, but indoors, Web Rush is critical—and outdoors, it makes gathering the game’s 700 collectibles much easier.

Yes, I said 700 collectibles! That, unfortunately, is another downside here. Literally every corner in Manhattan is littered with digital comic-book pages, and if you’re a completist like myself, you’ll go insane trying to collect them all. I appreciate that these pages unlock some digital versions of key Spider-Man comics from which the game draws its inspiration, like the first appearance of Iguana (Spectacular Spider-Man #32) or the first appearance of Rhino (Amazing Spider-Man #41), but the bevy of collectibles, along with a plentiful amount of side missions similar those seen in older Spidey games, comes across as clutter that almost gets in the way of the story the game tries to tell.

Still, this is certainly a well-polished Spider-Man experience, and it’s rare that a movie game actually doesn’t suck. The story is intriguing, web-swinging is enjoyable, and you honestly can’t fault Beenox too much for cramming in so much content—after all, we’re usually complaining when it’s the other way around. I will warn you again, though, that you’ll probably enjoy the story a bit more if you actually see the movie first, which means you’ll have to wait at least another week before playing the game. It’ll be worth the wait, though—all Spider-Man fans will enjoy this novel, twisted take on one of comics’ most iconic heroes.

SUMMARY: The best Spider-Man adventure in years isn’t quite what it should’ve been. Developer Beenox actually crams too much into the package, cluttering what could’ve been a landmark tale for Marvel’s wall-crawler. 

  • THE GOOD: Best web-swinging mechanics in years.
  • THE BAD: Way too many collectibles and side missions clutter up the main experience.
  • THE UGLY: Rhino, Iguana, and Vermin cross that line in a three-way tie.

SCORE: 8.0

The Amazing Spider-Man is available on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, 3DS, DS, PC, and iOS. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.