Game Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition

Jonathan Szafran delivers his verdict on the special edition of the ambitious open-world superhero adventure, now available on the Wii U.

As you boot up The Amazing Spider-Man, and begin to explore its world and take on the bad guys, you can’t quite shake that feeling that you’ve played it all before. That’s down to the game’s developer, Beenox, and their love of a certain successful, acclaimed DC Comic video game franchise. And players will see the comparisons to Batman: Arkham City and Asylum become even more clear as they roam around Manhattan, and clean up its streets in the guise of everyone’s favourite, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

The events in-game take place just a few weeks after the end of the upcoming film. An outbreak of a cross-genetic mutation that Dr Connors/The Lizard was working on has been unleashed at OsCorp, and it’s up to Spider-Man to stop the strain from spreading past the island of Manhattan.

Along the way Spider-Man will see some familiar faces such as The Black Cat, Scorpion and Rhino, although some of their origins have been altered to coincide with what the new film reboot and game are trying to convey. Without giving anything away, these are not the villians you know from the comic books and cartoons. Purists will take issue with some of these new twists on the Spider-Man lore – and to stay away from any spoilers movie fans might not want to play the game before they see the new film. Certain things that happen in the film are reiterated here, which sometimes left me wishing I hadn’t seen or heard what was onscreen.

The Amazing Spider-Man is broken up into two sections. There is the fully explorable overworld that is Manhattan, and then there are the indoor areas where Spider-Man will have most of his fighting sequences. Both areas have their own story progression and players will battle famous Spider-Man villains in both the indoor and outdoor arenas. It is in the city of Manhattan where this game shines, as swinging through the sky-line and crawling along its many skyscrapers is the true highlight of this title. The rush you feel leaping off a tall building and hurtling towards the city streets below, only to shoot your webbing at a nearby structure to swing away safely at the last moment, is truly exhilarating: and a feeling that never gets old.

And this Manhattan is not a dull, lifeless place that is just a means to get from one mission to another. With hundreds of comic book pages to collect, hidden symbols to snap photos of and plenty of citizens and police to help out, there are plenty of distractions to keep you busy in between the story quests. Completing these side objectives is worth it too, as they aid in Spider-Man’s journey through the game. Everything you do in this game, no matter how small, will reward you with experience points; which will in turn allow the player to unlock new upgrades for Spider-Man’s powers and webshooters.

These upgrades will come in handy when you take on OsCorp security and the major villains of the story. This is also where the comparisons to Arkham City come into view. Where that game had you fluidly moving from one combatant to another as you were surrounded by enemies, pretty much the same happens here in The Amazing Spider-Man. There is even a retreat button similar to Batman grappling to a position high above to watch his prey. Here Spider-Man will leap away to any vantage point and from there players will use a new innovation called Web Rush that switches the view to a first-person perspective, and players can pinpoint the exact enemy they want to take on – all at the press of a button. This Web Rush can also be used in non-combat situations to move quickly from one point to another, alleviating the need to swing great distances. It’s great fun and incredibly helpful during combat, but when it comes to the open world you may still prefer to swing everywhere you go.

Visually The Amazing Spider-Man looks…well…amazing: and the city of Manhattan is as pretty as it ever will be here in this game. The model for Spider-Man looks great and is taken straight from the character designs of the new film. There are also some familiar suits that can be unlocked that fans of the comic book series will enjoy. The draw distance in the city seems like it can go on forever and there is no sign of any pop-in at all. However, some of the building textures look bland up close when Spider-Man is crawling along them, and the standard enemy types are really not varied enough. This is a current gen game with last gen problems.

These issues don’t end with bad texturing and enemy variety, either. I have many complaints with the audio as well. How many times do I have to hear pedestrians yell out the same line over and over again? I can only take hearing the same female voice shouting “You go Spider-Man” so many times before I begin to grind my teeth. Spider-Man himself is not immune to this problem, and repeats the same lines over and over as he swings through the city and gets stuck in the same animation when collecting comic pages spouting: “Can’t believe the price tag went up”. I guess Beenox didn’t leave enough space on the disc to hold any lengthy dialogue options. Either that, or they blew all their budget to hire Nolan North to come in and lend his voice to the cast. Speaking of which, none of the film stars lend their voices or likeness to the game: so no Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone in this one folks.

Minor gripes aside, The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun game and a smart complement to the film. Though it is not the finest title featuring a prominent superhero, it is still one of the best based on a film – and Beenox deserve credit for that, since we all know that most movie-based video games are generally bad. The rush you get swinging though the city is unlike anything I have ever felt or played before, and I have to recommend it for that experience alone.


Wii U Difference:

Much is the same here on Nintendo’s newest console: it retains all the graphical glory that the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions had, and performs just as well. I did encounter a few screen tears and the game froze up once early on – but after that it worked just fine.

What sets this version apart from the others is the ability to play the entire game on the Wii U Gamepad. It not only frees up your television for others to use, but looks and runs just as well as playing on an HD TV. I also found the upgrade menu system easier to use on the Gamepad than on other consoles. You simply select what upgrade you desire with a single touch on the Gamepad screen, and then you’re back in the game saving Manhattan from disaster.

This Ultimate Edition includes all the downloadable content that was previously made available. None of it is anything particularly to write home about, but it is still a nice inclusion – especially considering the Wii U version’s discounted price.

With Nintendo struggling to find sales for the Wii U it would have been better to have seen this at the console’s launch, instead of almost a year after the film debuted. The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is the best version of the game, and Wii U owners are recommended to pick it up if they haven’t played the other versions yet.

FMV Rating: ***½


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