While Activision’s console Amazing Spider-Man game which takes place after the events of the 2012 movie, Gameloft’s Xbox Windows Phone 8 game very loosely adapts the film’s actual narrative. It seems like Gameloft had access to a brief synopsis for the movie and had to fill in the rest of the story with original material though. While the story eventually builds to a confrontation with the Lizard after he has released a harmful gas into New York’s skyline, the preceding plot centers around Spider-Man’s efforts to thwart a gang of terrorists created for the game.
The story scenes are fully voiced, but unfortunately the actors are fairly crap on the whole. Spider-Man’s voice actor in particular is seriously miscast. Not only doesn’t he sound anything like Andrew Garfield, he never sounds heroic and just plain can’t act. Also, nobody’s mouth moves when they’re speaking, which makes the occasional close up dialogue exchange look super awkward. But this is a mobile title (that was originally rushed to coincide with the release of the movie), so we have to cut it some slack.
Grand Theft Spider-Man
ASM is an open-world game, meaning that players can move around and explore the city at their leisure. To embark on a story mission, you’ll step into a blue light at specific locations. Side missions (which we’ll get to in a bit) pop up all over the map, and Spidey can choose to complete or avoid them. There are also lots of little colored spider collectibles to find as you dash, swing, and climb around the virtual island of Manhattan.
One issue arising from the open-world approach is the game’s relatively low frame rate. If I had to guess, I’d say it runs around 15-20 FPS. That’s noticeably lower than the average game’s target of 30 FPS (60 FPS is what we consider completely smooth). It’s important to understand that open-world games are extremely taxing on gaming hardware. Grand Theft Auto III on Playstation 2 ran below 30 FPS, but nobody minded because the freedom of gameplay was worth the trade-off. ASM’s gameplay is similarly rewarding, but some individuals won’t have the patience to acclimate to its imperfect frame rate.
Whatever a spider can
Unlike GTA, Peter Parker won’t be driving the cars that populate the city streets. Instead, he swings everywhere – and that’s way more fun. Webslinging is mostly effortless. You just tap the jump button, tap it again in the air to start a swing, and then repeat at the end of the swing. Leaving the ground behind to move between buildings at breakneck speeds is great fun. Gameloft put obvious effort into Spidey’s swinging animations – swing close to a building and he’ll run along its side while holding onto his web; or come to a full stop and he hangs upside down (no kissing in the rain though).
My only complaint: sometimes webs don’t come out when the button is pressed, causing our hero to plummet to the ground. This seems to depend on proximity to buildings. But Spidey’s webs don’t actually connect to buildings, so why the limitation? Nobody wants their web-slinging thrills interrupted by an unwelcome attempt at reality.
Spider-Man’s other power of note is climbing on walls. This he does quite easily – walk up to a wall or jump against one and he’ll stick to it like Lawrence Fishburne to a honey-glazed ham. Then you just climb in the direction of your choice with the virtual stick. Climbing is far slower than swinging and thus less enjoyable, but still useful on occasion.
Whenever Spidey spots one or more enemies, his spider-sense sounds off. He can then press a button to fire a web at one of the bad guys and zip over to the foe. From there, you’ll mostly mash on the attack button to beat enemies into submission. The upgrades you’ve purchased determine what moves come out when tapping the button, but the combo system never opens up beyond that.
If you want to fancy the fighting up a tad, pressing the web button either fires balls of web or does another zip kick. Before long, Spidey also gains a super attack that damages anybody within its radius. Pressing and holding the attack button activates it, and there’s a cooldown time to prevent overuse.
Sometimes you’ll need to dodge attacks, too. When Peter’s Spider sense goes off during a battle, quickly press the dodge button to do a counterattack. Miss and you’ll take a hit. It’s fairly easy to come away from fights unscathed as long as you react fast enough. I wouldn’t mind a deeper combat system, but the attacks and dodges presented here look cool while keeping the game approachable for general audiences.
Level ups and microtransactions
After busting enough heads and completing enough missions, Spider-Man will level up. This gets you Skill Points to spend on various upgrades such as faster health regeneration or increased melee damage. You can also increase the rate of XP and Spider gain – definitely put all of your points into those upgrades first in order to reduce the need for grinding.
Players can visit the shop at any time. It offers a couple of unlockable costumes (one of which costs way too much), health regeneration potions, and a few other knickknacks. Everything in the shop costs spiders, which you earn the same way as XP. But you don’t earn nearly as many spiders as XP, making it hard to afford anything.
The game does offer both Skill Points and spiders for purchase with real money. But those prices are crazy high too, so I doubt many people will splurge on them. Considering that ASM costs $6.99 already, the IAP prices should have been far more reasonable.
These story activities would have made great side quests too.
Let’s get this out of the way: this game has one or two broken Achievements. The first, 'Hometown Legend' requires Spidey to save 15 citizens. Do that and nothing happens. Annoyingly/amusingly, the same Achievement is also broken in Gameloft’s The Dark Knight Rises.
The other problem Achievement is for completing all Challenges. After meeting Gwen Stacy in a random encounter (the only time she appears in the game, oddly enough), Peter gains access to challenges. Three challenges are active at any given time. Complete one and it’s replaced by another, and so on. The number of challenges is just ridiculously large, some are very difficult and arbitrary, and they'll bore you pantless long before the game is done. Several weeks after the game’s release not one person has the Achievement for completing them all, meaning the Achievement is either way too hard or just doesn’t pop.
The Amazing Spider-Man is not a perfect game. Its engine outpaces the hardware a bit, resulting in a less-than-fluid experience. The random missions lack variety – I wish some of the cool story bits like following an enemy car and saving people from falling off of skyscrapers would also pop up as random missions. And the game’s worldview is kind of antiquated: the only people Spidey rescues in side mission are women and the only black people that show up are bad guys. Plus broken Achievements.
For all its little imperfections, ASM is still modeled after the incredibly fun Spider-Man 2 console game. And much of that fun comes through. Swinging around the city, climbing along walls, and webbing enemies into submission is my idea of a good time. It’s also got an open world New York and a good leveling system going for it.
If you don’t sweat Achievements too much, go ahead and give ASM a try. Hopefully Gameloft will fix the Achievements with an update. If not, then the Lizard truly wins.
The Amazing Spider-Man costs $6.99. Get it here at the Windows Phone Store. File size: 542 MB (requires a device with 1 GB of RAM and approximately 3 GB of space to install)
Hopefully it comes soon to 512MB devices..
Sounds OK. You mention a couple too many drawbacks for me to consider it at full price (if I ever get a WP8) but seems like it might be a fun game to grab on sale.
So it's a crappy port that is priced too high. Yay!
As for the achievements that's nothing new from gameloft. 8 of there current titles are still broken & can not be completed! I have 0 faith in Gameloft & will not be buying any of there titles till they show us some respect of the current pile of crap they have put on us is cleaned up, nobody wants more crap added to the pile of crap they can't clean up already! FAIL X8 for gameloft!
You are right dude. Eight titles its just shameful and one may ask: How is it possible for gameloft to make so many mistakes when it comes to achievements? Even worse: They didn't fix those bugs.
Lol people like you are not needed in the WP community, show some respect and at least acknowledge the fact that gameloft is putting games out there is a good thing...so stfu and stop complaining.
First of all: Starting a post with "Lol"...not cool dude.
Second: I am aware that Gameloft releases games on WP, since I bought em all.
Third: What is up with your behaviour, way too angry.
Fourth: Learn the difference between whining and criticism.
Great review Paul i would agree that the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Swinging through the city is great fun though i too noticed that sometimes webs failed to shoot making me fall to earth :-S thought it was the phone failing to recognise my touch.
The problem isn't that the engine outpaces the hardware, it's that optimization is crap. And unfortunately, given Gameloft's track record they're unlikely to ever update this game in any meaningful way. Even other platforms don't see much in the way of updates from these guys. I'm just waiting for games on this scale to come to Windows Phone from publishers other than Gameloft and EA.
Hands down the most fun I have ever had playing through a mobile game. The frame rate at times was game breaking for me, making the game unplayable and it would always give me a headache. But overall it was not so bad that i would avoid the game. I would pay $6.99 again for all of the great fun I had with this one, and I will do just that by picking up a very similar title, The Dark Knight Rises. I just wish the game was not half arsed and actually ran well, and had obtainable achievements, or at least a definite promise from Gameloft of a patch.
This game has taken a little bit of excitement away from the other games that are soon to release. No way they will run smoothly on the platfform. They will be choppy as hell and $7 (at least), but I guess we have to look forward to something.
Broken Achievements = no buy.
Don't forget about 7.8 guys plzz :(
It's not coming to WP7. I don't think any future Gameloft titles will.
Some games we must crowdsource for I suppose. Those that want this, feel free. I would rather be forewarned.
I love this game. But the problem is the game don't like me :P
I can live with low FPS, but a bit in the game it destroys the possibility to complete missions, the FPS is ridiculously low and I find it hard to wanting to pick up the game again, which is sad because its a great game.
Well I noticed that restarting the game/phone helps when it gets super laggy on the 920.
Thnx for the tip. I'm afraid I have tried it all and restartinng the phone gives back some performance sometimes, but that mission im referring to just drives me mad with the low FPS.
If you have more tips I have a forum post here on WPC where I were hoping people might give tips.....a link?...hmm just search for me :D
If this mission is just not doable (i can imagine which one), you have the possibility to skip it for 4000 coins without any harm. You get achievements as well so all good. Hope that helps a bit!
Its annoying that these games require so much memory to install. I have the Lumia 810 and this phone only has 8gbs of space. After a couple of apps you can barely install a game. All the game loft games require to much to play. The 810 has expandable memory up to 32gb buts its useless BC it just for pics, video and music all of which can be save on the cloud anyway. I've wanted to try out asphalt 7 since it came out but I can't BC not enough space. I don't know why they haven't made it possible to save apps to the cloud or memory card. That would be perfect
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