I cried when I realized that Spider-Man: The Animated Series was concluding on a cliffhanger; finding out that the search for Mary Jane would have awesomely lead to Victorian England just adds salt to the wound. I was betrayed again when the spiritual sequel to the series, Ultimate Spider-Man, also ended prematurely. I recently managed to acquire a digital copy of The Amazing Spider-Man issue #1, released in March of 1963. I watched Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man at a friend’s house and then went on to purchase what would be the only thing I would watch for months to come. In short, I am a True Believer. Therefore, it is no secret that I am fond of the newly released The Amazing Spider-Man by Beenox, a game based on the movie of the same title and designed to appeal to the obsessive collector. Web-slinging across skyscrapers and fighting numerous villains from Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery are all secondary to the real objective: finding the sheer amount of collectables and references thrown in for the knowledgeable Spider-Man fan. If this was like most other movie tie-ins, I would offer Hamlet’s advice and say, “pray you avoid it.” However, given the webslinger’s previous record in games and the fact that this is a game teeming with things a fan of the franchise would appreciate, I would recommend this title to any webhead.
For all the drivel that comes out each summer in cinemas, there is usually corresponding drivel in the form of interactive entertainment, the connoisseur’s term for videogames. When Michael Bay destroyed the Transformers franchise, Traveller’s Tales did well to support him by offering their own serving of mediocrity in another medium. When Marvel subjected us to a Thor movie so awful that it is impossible to believe that the director has experience with Shakespearean filmmaking, there was the equally unworthy Thor: God of Thunder. The one exception to the movie tie-in rule seems to be Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher’s Bay, a movie tie-in that received more praise than most other games that year and even the movie it was based on. To be fair, though, even a well-combed hairball deserves more praise than most Vin Diesel action flicks.
That being said, Spider-Man has always done well for himself in the world of videogames. While no developer has been able to emulate the success with the wall-crawler license that Rocksteady Studios managed to with Batman in their Arkham series, Spider-Man has rarely tanked with the critics. For every derivative installment such as Maximum Carnage or the “meh” inducing Friend or Foe, there is the truly terrific Web of Shadows or the incredibly enjoyable Spider-Man 2. Of course, there are always bad apples such as Spider-Man 3, which is for games what Spider-Man 3 was for movies: a sour note to end a trilogy on.
Still, Spider-Man games always do enough to appease webheads and nothing should discourage fans of the webslinger from purchasing this game. The developers have included 700 comic book pages within the game (a mere morsel of all the great literature Spider-Man has produced, but a neat gesture nonetheless) and many have commented on how it takes inspiration from the fantastic aforementioned Batman series. The title currently has a respectable Metascore of 72 so, as a rule of thumb, fans of the franchise should increase that by about five to ten points, depending on how forgiving you are with your games.
Since I don’t like anyone contradicting my vision for a character, I have not seen the movie yet; I am still busy washing out the bad taste X-Men: First Class left in my mouth. The game, however, is something I am willing to plunge into because, regardless of the Spider-Man they create, I get to swing across New York, fight villains and collect comic books. If you can accept that the game is less about traditional elements such as graphics or gameplay and more about catering to the obsessive compulsive Spider-Man collector, you will likely have a very good time with Peter Parker’s latest foray into interactive entertainment.