Can you save them from your gift?
The Amazing Spider-Man for PlayStation Vita kicks off where the movie of the same name ends, thrusting you into a continuance of Peter Parker’s interaction with Dr. Connors (the Lizard), Gwen Stacey and Oscorp.
As Peter Parker/Spider-Man, you’re sent out into New York City to protect the innocent, web up the guilty and avert the enemy-laden crime wave that’s about to kick off (as usual). This time around though, an infection has broken out and is threatening to turn the city’s population into half-human, half-animal mutant hybrids (think Spider-Man… with eight legs). Being that you’re Spider-Man, you’re immune to this infection; the factual reason? The resulting mutation is the same one that you’ve already undergone, though you seem to be the exception to the rule – in that you’re only a freak on the inside. As such, it’s your duty (along with the help of Gwen and Dr. Connors) to stop this infection, reverse the effects, and save as many citizens as possible.
In light of this outbreak, certain people have quickly changed into these hybrids and you’ll encounter them along the way. Some of the bigger enemies you’re graced with include; Scorpion, Rhino, Vermin (a rat hybrid?), Nattie (a piranha hybrid), the Lizard (Dr. Connors’ alter ego), a woman with ninja reflexes named Felicia (is she another perfect hybrid like you?) and an inside player which I won’t spoil (story related). That isn’t to say that there aren’t a ton of minions, crazy people, drones, snipers and even three massive “spider-killer” robots after you – but that’s just part of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man’s daily routine, I suppose.
The game itself is laid out quite well; an open world (sort of), some level progression (done through XP), a set of upgradable moves, and amazing physics make this one a joy to play (or should, but we’ll get to that later). The swinging, diving, web-zipping and targeting are pretty spot on – giving an almost seamless experience as you transition from one move to another. The spider-sense infused web-zip is actually one of my favourite additions to the game, as it can be used either as a quick travel maneuver or a way to launch yourself at an enemy for an attack. The fighting itself is a bit thin (using only square for attacks, circle for webbing and triangle for dodge aside from web-rush), though combining certain attacks can make for some unique moves and devastating specials.
Upon completion of certain tasks (and the game), you’re awarded a few extra perks as well – more for vanity’s sake than anything though. Completing select tasks will net you different Spider-Man suits, from traditional to bizarre – some of which I quite like (the Future Foundation one in black and white for example). They offer no advantages over the regular suit, but they’re pretty snazzy to say the least.
Completing the game takes a different reward route though, giving you control over the weather and time of day. If you’ve completed the main story-line, you can actually choose the weather or time of day by picking from a list of pre-programmed options when exiting your apartment. These include day, ashen, dawn, night, dusk, overcast and sunset; each of which gives a different feel to navigating the city. I must admit, some of these options are pretty cool despite their lack of usefulness.
Graphically, this game is a mixed bag. The character models seem on par with a decent PlayStation 3 title, though the scenery is PlayStation 2 level. There are jaggies all over the place, the draw distance sucks, and it drops frames like a bowler – but there are a few beautiful scenes dropped in here and there. It’s definitely not a great looking game over all, but I’d say it’s decent enough that you can forgive the ugliness if it’d just stop dropping frames…
The background music fits the game perfectly, and sound effects are clear and timely – though the variations are a bit on the low side (read; the sound effects may get repetitive). I expect that it was a concession they had to make for game size reasons, though I can’t be sure. The lip-sync also leaves a lot to be desired, as mouths don’t match the words (or even move, sometimes) and it takes away from the “magic” of getting lost in what’s going on.
The game itself is quite good underneath, but the graphical issues paired with the longer than 30-second loading times (in a lot of areas) mean that it’s just not good enough to be great. I’m not sure how long it is if you stick to the main story, but doing all the side missions as well took me about 10 hours total so it’s not short if you’re interested in the full package – though there’s none of the DLC for the PS3 version available from what I can tell.
The things that hold The Amazing Spider-Man back are things that can be fixed. If the developer puts a little elbow grease into a patch and releases the DLC, I have high hopes for the future of this title on the Vita. For now though, I’d only jump in if you’re a fan of Spider-Man and just have to have it, or are looking for a bit of open world action/adventure and don’t care about some hiccups here and there.
It’s also worth noting that while I haven’t played The Amazing Spider-Man on any other console, I’m told it’s very true to the original in content and isn’t stripped down like most handheld release versions of major console titles.
Here’s some of my more majestic screenshots;