Developer Beenox has had mixed success bringing Spider-Man to life this console generation. Its first effort, 2010's "Shattered Dimensions," introduced four different versions of everyone's favorite web-slinger, each with its own unique gameplay elements, and was a lot of fun. For its sophomore effort, "Edge of Time," the number of wall-crawling super heroes was cut in half, but sadly so, too, was much of the enjoyment.
For "The Amazing Spider-Man," based on the recently released film of the same name, the developer takes Peter Parker back to his gaming roots by opening up a virtual New York City to web-swing across and explore. It's a simple change, but one that results in a fun romp that ranks as one of Spidey's best games to date.
"The Amazing Spider-Man" picks up shortly after the events of the film, and anyone who has yet to watch the franchise reboot will be treated to a host of spoilers. I'll try to avoid that pitfall here, but suffice to say Spider-Man has his hands full cleaning up a city filled with genetic experiments gone wrong and the robots built to stop them.
While the campaign is interesting, the real fun lies within the city, itself. In addition to the story missions, you're free to scour the Big Apple and help police apprehend criminals, aid citizens in distress, take pictures for a local news reporter and collect the hundreds of comic book pages scattered throughout the city (securing these pages unlocks classic comics that you can actually read, which is pretty neat).
The best part of "The Amazing Spider-Man" is the simply the ability to swing and zip around the huge city. Pressing the right bumper momentarily pauses time, allowing Spidey to pick where he wants to zip, making it simple to bounce between buildings and cover great distances in an instant. It's also helpful for making a quick escape during combat situations.
Speaking of combat, "The Amazing Spider-Man" borrows much from its recent predecessors, from chaining together strikes in order to trigger special moves to using stealth takedowns to silently eliminate threats. Fights have a nice flow to them, though things can get difficult when facing multiple enemies at once, especially those armed with guns. For the most part, the combat system works well and is highly rewarding.
While "The Amazing Spider-Man" improves on much of what didn't work in Beenox's first two Spider-Man games, a few of the same issues remain. Primary amongst these is a camera that struggles to find the right angles when Spidey is crawling on walls and ceilings. The side missions, while numerous, tend to get repetitive and some of the collectibles can be tricky to grab, but those minor annoyances didn't take away from my overall enjoyment.
Spider-Man has a long video-game history, and "The Amazing Spider-Man" is a fine addition to that library. It may not be perfect, but it's a lot of fun.
"The Amazing Spider-Man"
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($59.99)
Rating: T for teen