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REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man (PS3)

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  • PS3 / Rated T / $59.99 / rel. June 2012
  • OFFICIAL SITE: http://www.theamazingspidermangame.com
  • PURCHASE LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Spider-Man-sony-playstation3/dp/B005VKRGXI
  • FINAL: You WANT this game. 4 out of 5 stars

The last two Batman videogames set a bar so high that all future super-hero games need powers of their own to vault it. “The Amazing Spider-Man” does not quite meet Batman’s mark of “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City,” but it does well enough to make it worthy of comparison.

The big reason to name-drop Batman here is that “Amazing Spider-Man” clearly borrows heavily from the “Arkham” games. At times, it feels as if “Amazing Spider-Man” is “Arkham City” with the lights turned on. Spider-Man’s world is brighter – since the sun never rises in Gotham – but the gameplay basics are very similar to “Arkham.” And that’s no bad thing.

“Amazing Spider-Man” takes place after the movie ends and continues Peter Parker’s relationships with Gwen Stacy and Dr. Curt Conners. Genetic science – long an unchecked force of craziness in the Marvel Universe – has run amok yet again, releasing a series of human/animal crossbreeds into New York. Spidey fans will appreciate the inclusion of comics characters like the Rhino and the Black Cat, as the game weaves legacy villains into the movie’s continuity.

Spider-Man is not stuck just chasing the rampaging hybrids, thanks to an open-world recreation of Manhattan. Bank holdups, muggings and car chases all require your arachnid attention. Spider-Man can participate in timed races across New York, and snap photos that are used by a local reporter. None of these are particularly challenging, just heroic diversions that help Spidey accrue points for new powers and abilities. Even exploration is rewarding: The city is littered with an astonishing 700 comic book icons. When collected, they unlock complete scans of classic Spider-Man comics.

While 700 collectibles may sound imposing, swinging around the city to find them is a blast. There’s a beautiful feeling of momentum propelling Spidey’s swings, and a thrilling sense of height adds to the intensity. To better illustrate Spider-Man’s quick reflexes and agile web-shooting abilities, the game uses a slow-motion, first-person viewpoint to help players spray blasts of web-fluid or pick grapple targets across skyscrapers. Spider-Man’s costume takes on cumulative battle damage in another nice touch.

The hypnotically engaging web-swinging makes up for the game’s clunky parts (like boss enemies that lack informative life meters) and merely-servicable graphics (the human figures are particularly stiff and ugly). One would think that indicates a game that was rushed to market, but other fun details – like a cute fake New York Twitter feed that fills the loading screens – just show that design priorities were elsewhere.

Those priorities were well-chosen. The game is outright fun to play, with plenty to do between missions and lots of great personality showcased in Spider-Man himself.

Image courtesy Activision. The Amazing Spider-Man” is available for PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Windows and Nintendo 3DS. This review is based on product supplied by the publisher.