The Amazing Spider-Man is the third Spidey game in as many years to be developed by Beenox and published by Activision. But unlike 2010's Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and 2011's Spider-Man: Edge of Time, The Amazing Spider-Man returns to the free-roaming environments of Spider-Man 2 (and several subsequent releases starring the character).
As such, playing the game — which we got a chance to do last month at Activision's pre-E3 event in Culver City, Calif. — feels instantly familiar, at least from our short exposure to it. Webswinging from New York skyscrapers isn't much different here than it was eight years ago in Spider-Man 2, and the game's progression — encountering various missions and boss battles during your patrol — is pretty consistent with past efforts.
Whether that's good or bad really depends on your perspective. If you're looking for a revolutionary new take on a Spider-Man game, this doesn't appear likely to be it. But Spider-Man 2 and similar titles like Ultimate Spider-Man had a successful formula that was well-received by fans and reviewers, and it's been a while since players have gotten a new take on sandbox-style Spidey. There's definitely something to be said about the undeniable out-of-the-box comfort level in playing Amazing Spider-Man, which is likely to be appealing to lapsed gamers who might not have touched a controller since the last time a Spider-Man movie was in theaters (if such a person indeed exists)
Of course, there are new elements — one heavily pushed aspect is "web rush," a mechanism for Spidey to quickly and efficiently travel from point A to B, which can be employed in stealth attacks. There's also "web retreat," which is exactly what it sounds like: a web-assisted way to dodge attacks in the middle of combat.
The Amazing Spider-Man game is set in the world of The Amazing Spider-Man movie, but it's not a straight adaptation (and nothing we saw appeared to spoil any plot details, other than Peter Parker evidently does not die at the end of the film). It's actually set six months after the movie, and, as video games based on comic book movies usually do, throws in some more villains — in this case Rhino, Iguana, Vermin and Alistair Smythe; all of whom represent human/animal hybrids like movie bad guy The Lizard.
During our demo of The Amazing Spider-Man, we got to fight the Rhino, which is, fitting the theme, pretty similar to past video game bouts with the villain. Basically, you try to get him to charge into an object, and while he's stunned, attack. Other missions in our time with the game included stopping a robbery at a park and assisting the police during a chase.
For navigation, the game uses the GPS feature on Peter Parker's "OsPhone," further cementing the looming (if for now unseen) presence of Norman Osborn in the rebooted films. Naturally, you get a lot of looks at the back of Spider-Man's new movie costume while playing the game, which is one clear way this installment is visually distinct.
At the event, we also got to play a bit of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, the sequel to 2010's Transformers: War for Cybertron. Like its predecessor, it's a third-person shooter set on Cybertron, and adds Dinobots like Grimlock to the mix. We played an opening chapter as Bumblebee, transforming easily between robot and car mode and switching weapons on the fly.
The Amazing Spider-Man is out on June 26 on PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS and PC, exactly a week before the film opens in theaters. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is out Aug. 28 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC (we played both games on Xbox 360).
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