The Amazing Spider-Man 1 came out in 2012, where developer Beenox managed to pull together a flawed but playable game. A year earlier they released a Spider-Man game (Edge of Time), and since the first movie tie-in game they have had two years to get another and hopefully better game together. You would think that the games would at least be improving a little each game. But sorry guys, this didn't happen. TASM2 is yet another example of a bland movie tie-in. Since Beenox has had the Spidey license the games have been getting worse.
TASM2 like the first movie game doesn't follow the events of the movie. The first game continued the story after the movie. This game contains characters from the movie, such as Electro and the Green Goblin, but it doesn't recreate set pieces from the movie. It just throws them in amongst the other comic book based villains. Harry Osbourne has returned to Oscorp and has partnered up with Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin to help stop crime, and is targeting vigilantes like Spidey. Through the 5-7 hour story you'll come across the Black Cat, Kraven the Hunter, The Shocker and Carnage along with the movie villains. If you're coming to this game hoping for a fun Spider-Man story then you'll be disappointed unfortunately. Fighting amongst gangs in New York is escalating and Spidey is on the search for Uncle Ben's killer. Throw in a bunch of the rouge gallery and that's pretty much it.
Talked up before the games release was the increased size of New York, more combat options, better webswinging, and the 'Hero or Menace' system. Only the webswinging is a positive change. Instead of the previous game's webs attaching to the sky as you make your way around the city, now you need something for the web to attach too. I can't really congratulate Beenox for adding in a feature that was present in Spider-Man 2 for the original trilogy of movies. Webswinging is also improved by being able to control which hand you shoot your web from with the triggers. It really does improve traversing when you waypoints are usually so far away. You can skilfully make tight swings around corners while racing to stop crime, collecting comic books or following the story.
Travelling around the city can be one of the most fun things that TASM2 has to offer. There are comic pages to collect, photos to take, Russian gang hideouts and random crimes to fight. The random crimes form the 'Hero or Menace' system. Throughout the entire game, icons representing crime will pop up on the map. These can be small groups of thugs to beat up, people stuck in a burning building or a bomb about to go off and you need to get it out of everyone's way. If you tend to these crimes then your meter on the screen will fill up on the hero side. People will usually cheer you on as you go by. If you let these crimes expire, then you lose hero meter or it goes further into the menace side. When this happens, the task force comes out and will actively chase you through the skies as you try and go about your business. The hero/menace system is one of the game's biggest missteps. At any one time there are too many crimes to tackle to enjoy doing the other activities. As the game progresses the number of crimes becomes too high to fight, which in turn means that as you move around the city you'll be attacked and barriers thrown up in your path. This makes even the usually fun webswinging unpleasant.
TASM2 does have plenty of combat. Either fighting groups or stealthily taking out thugs patrolling around, Beenox has simplified the whole process of combat. While continuing the borrow the countering system from the Batman: Arkham series, the combat is now pretty much punch and kick with one button. When the thug flashes red, hit the counter button and repeat. Some enemies need to be shot with Spidey's webshot, but over your playing time those thugs are rare. Stealth works ok most of the time. Sneak behind enemies and do a stealth attack when prompted. Earlier on you don't' have thugs vision cones to know where they're looking, but with some upgrading you'll know who's looking where so make the stealth bits rely less on guess work.
Enemies in TASM2 are as varied as the combat. For most of the game you'll encounter basic thugs who may or may not have a gun. Sometimes there'll be quick and difficult to attack women thugs, and every rare occasion there are heavy thugs who need to be stunned before you attack. Much later on the game introduces armour that needs to be destroyed, but all it means is you have to web shoot before you start attacking. It's such a letdown that most of the enemies don't look any different throughout the game, given they're working with all the identifiable and garish villains that you might try and make things look a bit different. Before I forget there are soldiers on Green Goblin gliders and some flying robots. But they're so forgettable I nearly left them out entirely. You'll only usually see them when the Menace meter fills up and I just kept swinging away from them, given it doesn't lower your menace levels to fight them.
You won't spend the whole game as Spider-Man. Occasionally you will need to control Peter Parker, in missions where you need to talk to people without drawing attention to yourself. These sections of the game don't really add anything besides pad out the story length. You can always go back to Peter and Aunt May's apartment to change your costume or replay missions (if you really need to get those missed photographs). Then finally you can visit a comic book shop to view the comics you collected, and look at character models. I understand where they're coming from, having an actual store (run by Stan Lee playing the same role as the last game), but if you want to just have a read one of the comics it's inconvenient as there's no shortcut. The same goes for the apartment, it all adds up to minutes spent travelling and ignoring crimes to get to options that could have been included as an 'Extras' tab on the pause screen.
I played TASM2 on a Playstation 4. It is also available for the Xbox One (digital only unless they finally make a retail copy), PS3 and Xbox 360. If there was anything done to make the game look better for the new current gen games, it doesn't show. There are no effects or visuals that I wouldn't expect to see on the last gen consoles, and the streets of New York are bare, with a fair amount of pop-in. The different Spidey suits look good, but the models for everything else look like it came from a really average last gen game. One last thing that will standout throughout the entire game and that's Spidey's over the top wiggling around when he's talking to anyone in a cutscene. It's like his super powers include uncontrollable dancing.
The bad games are usually the ones that are easiest to write about at length, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of those games. When I picked up a copy of the game I knew not to expect much, but I was unprepared for a game that somehow managed to squander the goodwill any of Beenox's Spider-man games had generated. Movie tie-in games are notorious for being shoddy rush jobs and this game won't do anything to change that perception, given they had the framework from the movie game before it and it's not like they haven't made at least three Spidey games already. They've somehow managed to come up with the disappointment that is The Amazing Spider-Man 2.