The nicest thing I can say about the Amazing Spider-Man game is that it’s better than the hilariously incompetent movie.

After the jump, it’s all downhill from there

The Amazing Spider-Man is a bantamweight middleware flavorless attempt at the formula that made Batman: Arkham City so good, but with none of Arkham City’s gravity, detail, character, variety, love of lore, sense of place, and so on. It feels like the licensing cash-in that it most likely is, coming out the week of the movie’s release.

This being a Spider-Man game, you can tell pretty quickly what you’re getting with the web swinging. In this case, you’re just holding down a trigger button. At which point web swinging happens. This is a fine way to keep a game from having any meaningful Spider-Man flavor. Web swinging should never just happen. Web swinging should be something you do. It should bring with it some sense of accomplishment, exhilaration, and interactivity. It shouldn’t be something you watch. We have movies for that.

The kiss of death in an open-world game is an uninteresting world. You have to care what’s on the other side of that building. If you don’t care, the game has failed. Spider-Man fails. Despite attempts at lore and story with a photography minigame, this is New York City at its most rote. It’s small. It’s unambitious. It’s awkward. It doesn’t even look good. Open world games can no longer afford to look this perfunctory.

Although Spider-Man is a lot lighter on his feet and more twirly than the average Kratos or Caped Crusader, the combat is so Arkham City. The experience points, the upgrades, the combos, the dodging. Even the stealth is entirely familiar. During stealth missions, Spider-Man jumps from point to point to hide from bad guys shining their flashlights up into the rafters. He picks them off one-by-one, being particularly careful of the ones with guns. As if not having gargoyles up here makes it it’s own thing. It’s all such an uninspired riff on Rocksteady’s Batman masterpiece, with the stink of a mandate from a boardroom to make it like that Batman game that did so well. But Arkham City was built from the ground up because it suited the character. The Amazing Spider-Man is entirely borrowed.

1 star
Xbox 360