Unlike the wannabe Batman brawling, the exploration is pure Spider-Man. Swinging between buildings, patrolling the city for crime, and experiencing the Big Apple in ways only Spidey can... it all feels great, especially since the last couple of Spider-games – Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time – weren't open-world. But the more we experienced this virtual city that never sleeps, the more sterile it became. Missions popped up often, yet they were mainly slight variations on the same handful of experiences, like stopping petty crimes, carrying someone from one part of the city to another, or taking random photographs. Despite it being the most famous city in the world, Amazing's NYC has no character to it, with fancy graphics gussying up a city that would have felt average in 2007. Compared to recent open-world games like Prototype 2 or inFamous 2 (or even Spider-Man: Web of Shadows), this version of the Big Apple is sorely lacking.
Above: Check out this webtastic Spider-Man video
At least one gameplay element differentiates the exploration: the new Web Rush ability. Previously in Spider-Man titles, reaching a specific rooftop or area in the city could become pretty cumbersome, not to mention missing a timed goal by inches or starting a challenge by standing in the wrong spot. Web Rush removes much of that annoyance, as it slows time to a crawl and enters a first-person view, letting the player pick any spot in sight as Spider-Man's next destination. After picking your spot, Spidey web-zips straight to it with a welcome accuracy that's lacking in many open-world games.
Meanwhile, the indoor segments continue to suffer from a problem that's plagued Spider-Man games for years: they're bland and restrictive. Mostly set in dank sewers, empty office buildings, or otherwise broken-down areas, indoor movement is shackled by the restrictive, unimaginative (and ultimately boring) design. Objectives were set around the usual "pull that lever, collect three of these things, fight the boss in a circular room," clichés. This gameplay isn't "wrong" and still plays well enough; it's simply tired and lazy.
What's worse, the boss fights that feel the most rote of all, half of which are set in predictable underground areas or other restrictive settings instead of taking advantage of the open world and adding some much needed interest to the city. Then again, the occasional giant robot fights in the city are equally routine while simultaneously breaking the tenuous footing on reality that the source film attempts to establish. A city-wide viral outbreak we can believe, but Godzilla-sized, nondescript robots burrowing out of the ground and drilling through buildings? It felt like we had somehow started playing a Transformers game.
For the past few years we've been eagerly awaiting a Spider-Man game that offers something unique. Alas, with The Amazing Spider-Man, we get yet another game that's careful to not rock the boat. Nothing is broken or painful to play, and there's still an intrinsic fun to being a video game Spider-Man – but this is too much like what we've played before, only with less going for it than games like Web of Shadows or Ultimate Spider-Man. If you were dying for more action as Peter Parker this will do the trick, but a more fitting name for this game would be "The Acceptable Spider-Man."