When a new game hits store shelves at the same time and with the same title as a big-screen movie release, one could assume that the two just might share a common story. But Activision's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings around on a bit of a different web.
There is a web-slinging hero here, of course. And a big concrete jungle just waiting for him to crawl a few walls. But his story leaps all over the place. It starts out with the teen superhero attempting to track down the man who killed his Uncle Ben—a thug who's been rubbing elbows with notorious gunrunners. Then, just about the time Spidey sets his sights on that no-good guy, the tale turns in the direction of Russian mobsters attempting to arm themselves with stolen Oscorp high-tech gadgets because they're being knocked off by a killer vigilante.
Wait, though! Now the narrative is noodling around with Harry Osborn, who's teaming up with Wilson Fisk (aka King Pin) to create a crime-busting task force. And that mega-powered militia is something of a public cover-up for Harry's cross-species genetic research. And then there's Kraven the Hunter who wants to make Spider-Man his protégé, while in actuality he … oh, never mind.
Putting your finger on where this rambling rumbler is going is like trying to predict when Stan Lee will show up next in any given Marvel production. (And he does pop up several times in this particular digital game world.) There's really only one point to all of this anyway: to give some sort of thinly webbed-together reason for seven of Spider-Man's supervillain foes to show up on the streets of Manhattan with a common desire to splat a certain arachnid archenemy.
Swing, Thump and Quip
That doesn't mean everything's all chaos and craters all the time, though. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is at its best when players are webbing their way high above the traffic-jammed city of New York, zipping around corners and soaring from one skyscraper to the next. And there are heroic activities to jump down and pursue as well.
The game actually challenges you to keep the city streets as clear of crime as possible while you're on your way from one big boss showdown to the next. The public at large is concerned with all the criminals and vigilantes on the streets. And the more you rescue hostages from the sticky mitts of mad men or wrap up those evil little bad-guy gnats hiding in dark alleys, the more the city will be cheering you on in your next battle against Shocker or Carnage.
Lots of fists and spandex-covered feet find their way to various jaws and joints in that slam-bang action, of course. Thankfully, if a thug meets his earthly end, it's always offscreen or under cover of, say, a spilled trash bin, and never directly at Spider-Man's hand. And while hitting angry foes with a face full of web, our teen hero also tries to keep things light by tossing lots of sly retorts in the snarling baddies' direction.
Maybe too "light" sometimes, because those jokey asides can edge away from coy and toward crude. While battling the XL-sized King Pin, for instance, Spidey quips, "You're so fat I could have you arrested for 10 lbs. of crack … by which I mean butt crack." Uses of words like "h‑‑‑" and "d‑‑n" show up in the bad guys' villainy lingo from time to time too.
Sticking to the Script
But since when hasn't Spider-Man taken his great power and responsibility seriously? Since never. And so throughout the game, Spidey wrestles on and off with feelings of anger and a desire for revenge, finally realizing that "it's not wrong to feel those feelings, it's wrong to act on them." And both his Aunt May and Stan Lee himself reinforce that perspective, encouraging young Peter Parker to be the average good guy and everyday hero that his Uncle Ben always encouraged him to be.