One of the most dispiriting things you can do while playing a Wii game is to watch a youtube video of the same game on a different platform. For example, I was enjoying playing the Amazing Spider-Man, but when I checked a youtube video walkthrough of the Xbox 360 version, I thought, “that looks cool, how come I don’t get to do that?”
Developed by: Beenox
Published by: Activision
For ages:13 and up
Release Date: June 26, 2012
The Story: Spidey Makes a Mess and Cleans It Up
Amazing Spider-Man has the same title as the recent movie but its story is a sequel that takes place shortly after the film’s ending credits. Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen has brought him to Oscorp, an industrial lab where she works, to show him that in spite of promises, the company is still experimenting with a serum that turn animals into dangerous animal-human hybrids. To make matters worse, the serum is a very contagious virus.
Unfortunately the creatures react strongly to Spidey’s aura and escape to wreak havoc. Gwen is promptly bit, meaning she and other bitten scientists are about to become something very, very bad.
Spider-Man, apparently thinking in terms of the egg breaking required to make omelletes, shuts off the security at a prison holding the scientist who created the serum so he can escape to create an antidote. Of course, this also frees all the other convicts, causing even more trouble. It all makes you think vigilante super heroes might not be a good idea after all.
Cleaning up this mess primarily involves exploring labs and sewers and fighting mutants and killer robots designed to eradicate the mutants. As usual, Spidey can climb walls and ceilings and use his web-shooter to zip to a far wall or immobilize an enemy.
The Gameplay: Time Slowing, Upgrades, Stealth Attacks
Amazing Spider-Man’s most interesting gameplay feature is “web rush,” in which holding down the Z button will slow time and allow you to interact with your environment in various ways. You can use web rush to select where you want to zip to, or to attack an enemy, or to grab and hurl vending machines and other objects at opponents (although Spidey often seems to aim them haphazardly, missing mutants in favor of empty floor space). My favorite use of web rush was for stealth attacks; if you’re positioned correctly you can simply wrap an unawares monster in webbing and leave him there.
As you proceed you are able to upgrade your strength and add new abilities. Eventually I had upgraded my web rush stealth attack to the point where I could swoop down on two enemies, wrap them up and hang them from the ceiling before their companions could be alerted.
I much preferred stealth attacks to full-on combat, which is time consuming and somewht repetitive, but in the case of boss battles, stealth is not an option. Melee combat is not bad, but it’s rarely thrilling. The best boss fights in the game are a few involving outdoor fights with giant killer robots (the first boss battle in the game is actually one of the most difficult and interesting); fighting some acid-spewing manimal is never as much fun.
The Comparison: A Youtube Video Tells Me What I'm Missing
A couple of times I got stuck somewhere in the game and checked Youtube to find out what to do next. And that was when I discovered that, while the Wii Spidey spends his time almost exclusively in dank sewers and bland corridors, the 360/PS3 Spider-Man can go outside and explore Manhattan, swinging from the skyscrapers.
I realize that the Wii is graphically far less powerful than those other consoles, but the open-city Spider-Man has existed since the days of the PS2, so I fail to see why this version is so claustrophobic.
While this game gives you less than the other console versions, what it does give you is quite fun, and if we compare it with other Wii super-hero games, it stands up pretty well. It certainly is an improvement over the previous series title, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, which had a more ambitious story but suffered from a lot of poor gameplay mechanics that have been, for the most part, fixed in this game.
The Verdict: Fun Little Game, In Spite of Some Flaws
There certainly are still issues with the game. If I point my web shooter at a ceiling and fire without going into web-rush mode I will automatically attack an enemy I don’t want to attack. You can enter sewer grates if you’re crawling up to them, but not if you’re crawling down. The motives of the main antagonist are unclear (is he a well-intentioned guy brought down by forces within his company? Sincere but taken down by his own hubris? Power mad?). Sometimes there are weird continuity jumps; at one point I was fighting a monster and suddenly I was helping a guy up off the floor, apparently having beat the monster without realizing it.
But there are also many appealing aspects. The game is a lot of fun when Spidey is fighting killer robots flying over the city or battling a flirtatious bank robber, and some of the dialogue is quite entertaining; I particularly liked the snarky bantering of reporter Whitney Chang. The upgrade system lets you add a few cool tricks, the level design is generally pretty good, and the game moves at a brisk pace. It is a fun game, and if you’re looking for a Wii action game, you might really enjoy this one.
Just don’t play the Xbox 360 version first.