The Amazing Spiderman 2 takes place along the timeline of the movie in an alternate setting. The same characters involved in the movie, i.e. Electro, Rhino etc, are included in the game with a slightly different plot. Peter Parker continues on his search to uncover the truth behind his father's work while fighting enemies determined to keep that truth hidden.
There is not too much prominent background noise in the game. True to the "open city" nature and somewhat redone open world exploration, the sound in the Amazing Spiderman 2 is similar to what you would hear walking around a city. Absent the swearing, of course. We have car horns beeping, people complaining about others in the street, gossiping about news stories etc. A slight increase in realism is found when compared to the last game due to the web slinging nature (which I'll get into later). The new mechanics of web slinging make it impossible to go hundreds of feet above the highest levels of the tallest buildings. In case you forgot, the sounds in the last game became less and less prominent the higher you swung because you were farther away from the street. In what was the only things about the game that reminded me of the Arkham series, sound allowed the Amazing Spiderman 2 to be tolerated just long enough. Yes, tolerated. Not enjoyed. I wasn't over saturated with unnecessary songs in the background and what was included was blended well. Unfortunately, this is pretty much where the enjoyability factor ended for me.
I mentioned the Arkham series as a comparison in regards to how the sound flows in the Amazing Spiderman 2. The graphics? Yeah, not so much. Remember how any of the Batman Arkham titles have buildings with window ledges, statues, tight ropes and other things with texture that really made you say "Wow, they did their homework on this game?" That is no where to be found in this version of Spidey. The buildings show absolutely no texture. They reminded me of when I was a kid and used to unfold a card board box in order to build a house then "drew" a door and windows on with a Sharpie marker. In fact, the Sharpie may have been more textured. I purposely web swung around for about an hour after seeing how bad they looked just to see if I could find a somewhat respectable looking building. I could not. Every one had window ledges that looked part of the building. They were flat, had no depth and quite frankly incredibly disappointing. If you didn't tell me I was playing a PS4 version of the game, I would have guessed it was something straight off of the PS2 or original Xbox. I am not exaggerating. Being that you are in a city, there are few trees. When you get near the water or edge of the city in certain missions you find more of them. The tree trunks themselves have a little detail, yet the leaves and branches are depicted as one big piece. On a next generation game, you would expect to see the individual leaves blowing in the wind or the branches waving independently of each other, but that is not the case. I understand in games that many times certain little things are sacrificed in order to make more visible aspects that much better. Take the fish in Battlefield 4 for instance. DICE indicated that there were "dumb fish" that don't react to human presence and swim away because the physics were needed for the building demolition. Who cares? No one cares about fish in Battlefield in that aspect. The Amazing Spiderman 2 takes this approach but instead of fish, Activision minimizes the graphics and gameplay in order to make more prominent the, well, I haven't quite figured out what is prominently good in this game.
Maybe I'm spoiled with graphics after such incredible releases this past year. I don't know. I don't think we need amazing graphics in every game, but I do think there is a standard that needs to be set, ESPECIALLY when you are working with a next generation game. Spiderman himself is portrayed well. His features and muscular development are in good proportion while his movements look realistic and not robotic. The enemies are a different story. The npc's located in the city along with the enemies you encounter in various pop up side missions appear very boxy. Their faces are round but lack detail. Their bodies are accurately proportioned but lack shading and depth. When you see an artist's depiction of a hand, you expect to see the lineations for the knuckles, joints, nails etc. What we got from Activision, however, is just a flat depiction of a hand. No details. It was actually disappointing and the obvious lack of effort in the graphics and detail was frustrating.
The gameplay was by far the worst part of The Amazing Spiderman 2. There was one good addition that Spidey purists will enjoy. In contrast to the last game where you can web anywhere up in the sky, we will need to attach our webs to a structure in order to swing in this version. Our left and right handed webs are now mapped to our left and right triggers in the game. It takes a few minutes to get used to after previous versions, but it does add to the realism which I can appreciate. Sadly, this is where it ends. Combat, by far, took the biggest hit in this installment. There is a marker that pops up indicating a landed strike on an enemy during combat. The irony, however, is that this pops up when you don't actually land the strike. Enemies were reacting to hits I was not hitting them with. Their heads were snapping back, they were falling down and hitting the wall when I never touched them. It happened so often it was almost comical as nearly one in four strikes didn't land. One side mission I performed was rescuing a young man from being robbed by five baddies in an alley. As you know, you can control the camera's angle while in combat, which I do to gain an advantage. At one point, I had it set up so Spidey was on the left fighting the baddie on the right. I pulled off Spidey's signature backward flip kick ala Guile from Street Fighter. Although I was far enough way where my legs completely missed the baddie, he still went flying backward into the wall. At this point, I was standing next to my buddy who let me play the copy and we both simultaneously just said "COME ON! SERIOUSLY!"
I found the fights in general to be jumbled together as well. You know how in Batman all of the strikes are deliberate, visible and serve a purpose? Little of that is present here. Now, obviously Spidey is faster than the Dark Knight so there will be some discrepancy as far as speed is concerned.
A new feature in this game is the new menace system which rewards you for good deeds performed. One of the tasks Spidey can choose to perform is rescue some civilians from a burning building. (Cliche, yes I know). There were five in the building and I was able to rescue four. I could hear the fifth one yelling for help but was unable to find them. This resulted in the Fire Department coming to rescue the sole survivor left over. As a result, since I did not rescue ALL the civilians, J Jameson puts out a rant on how I was a menace to the city. Armed police and military personnel were on the streets that began to pursue me on sight and shoot down my webs if I was low enough to the ground. I got no credit for my 80% rescue rate. It was not all bad, though. The news reporter from the last game is back and we still have to run around taking pictures of various crime scenes for her. If we get everything she needs, she does a little news story on how Spidey helped out and all is good in the world. What makes this difficult is if your menace level is high it becomes nearly impossible to complete these tasks without incident. Although it sounds intriguing, there is literally ZERO advantage to being a menace in the game which makes it a near useless feature.
The layout of the levels have changed. Unlike the last game where we were confined to certain areas while going through a level, we have more of an open world Arkham feel in this one. We are able to approach the buildings and enemies from multiple angles, including knocking them out before we are even noticed. This is a definite must because they all come running if we alert the baddies to our presence. Although the environment is badly detailed, we are able to use it to our advantage for cover and concealment which aids in the combat. We also are able to utilize multiple Spiderman suits each with its own unique abilities. As I stated earlier, I like to play games on the hardest level in order to get the achievements. For that reason, I respect the fact that each one of the suits requires its own use in order to level up. The whole "I can't wait to see what THIS level gets me" factor never gets old in gaming and was intriguing during my review.
Peter Parker himself is a playable character in the game this time around as well. Our home base so to speak is no longer our friend's apartment, but rather our very own room in Aunt May's house. Located upstairs, here we can replay missions and choose which Spidey suit we wish to use. Ironically, the most detailed character in the game was Peter Parker himself right down to Andrew Garfield's silly looking, spiked up hair. (Of course he doesn't care what I think. He kissed Emma Stone). These missions, albeit not that difficult as you have no "powers" as Peter, still remained necessary to the plot of the game which I enjoyed. Too often do you see side missions just thrown in with no relevance to the story line so I found Peter's missions a welcome addition.
OVERALL AND REPLAY VALUE
I played many of the previous Spiderman games including the most recent Amazing Spiderman 1. Other than the several hundred comic book page side missions that require a dubious, time consuming effort, most of the missions were extremely linear and possessed no real fun factor. As a fan of the Spiderman franchise, this was easily the worst I've played. I was really hoping that Activision would borrow off of the Arkham series' success, but this clearly did not happen. Super hero movies, comics and games have a certain requirement almost with this increase in technology that we have experienced. We need to see "realistic" action, combat and special effects. We understand that they are obviously fake but we don't want to have our intelligence insulted either. The combat reminded me of something out of WWE wrestling with the way the baddies would fall down without being hit and the buildings were simply horrific. If you are going to buy this game, that's ok. I'm just one guy doing his part to help you make the most informed decision you can. DO NOT, however, buy this game at full price. In no way does The Amazing Spiderman 2 justify its full $59.99 price tag. If you are a Spidey fan and need to purchase it, do yourself a favor and wait six weeks or so till' the prices drops to $29.99. Trust me. You'll thank me later.