Demo Impressions – The Amazing Spider-Man

This week, another demo was added to the Nintendo eShop – this time, gamers could get their hands on a trial version of The Amazing Spider-Man, Activision’s upcoming action game starring everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero.

Before downloading the demo, I hadn’t given much thought to The Amazing Spider-Man – I think the upcoming film looks interesting, but I didn’t expect much from the video game tie-in. The last Spider-Man game I played was the Nintendo DS version of Shattered Dimensions, and though I found the “Metroidvania” gameplay to be very interesting, I was disappointed to hear that the latest installment returned to the open-world style of Spider-Man 2. Though Spider-Man 2 was a popular choice for “best Spider-Man game”, I typically don’t care for the open-ended style of play, and perhaps that is why I found myself so surprisingly satisfied by developer Beenox’s latest effort.

What I liked: The 3DS version of The Amazing Spider-Man might be disappointing to those looking for the sandbox gameplay featured in the console versions, but this allowed me to focus on the combat in the demo version. It felt a lot like the system used in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arhkam City; Spider-Man can move around with a lot of fluidity, chaining together combo attacks and avoiding enemy strikes in order to pull off counter moves. Attacks can be chained to form combos, which increases your multiplyer, and ultimately rewards you with experience points that can be used to unlock more special abilities.

To be honest, most of the game feels almost identical to the aforementioned Batman titles, only with a Spider-Man twist. This isn’t even remotely a bad thing; I was actually pretty impressed by how well it all works in the 3DS version. I really liked the new “Web Rush” move, which slowed down time and let me zip around each room, dropping down on my enemies or stunning them with web shots before pummeling them with melee strikes. All of this fast-paced action handles pretty well for the handheld platform; even the camera controls seem to work well on the trigger buttons – I had no trouble keeping the camera under control, even when surrounded by a large group of opponents.

There were occasionally some dips in the frame rate when I played in 3D, but the depth effects were actually done pretty well here – so keeping the slider turned on really let me enjoy the primary function of the 3DS. With the stereoscopic effects, the cut-scenes are made even nicer, but it really helps that they all feature fully-voiced dialogue as well.

What I didn’t like: I really liked the character model for Spider-Man, and the combat animations were very smooth, but everything else about the graphics seemed…well, just a little too much like what you’d expect a sloppy handheld port of a visually-superior console game to look like. The textures were bland, the environments were repetitive, and the enemy models were nowhere near as well-designed as Spider-Man’s. Though I don’t hold most licensed titles to the same standards as most other games – especially their handheld ports – I was really disappointed to see the blatant gap in visual quality between Spider-Man and the rest of the game.

Though I’m fine with the idea of the sandbox gameplay being taken out of the 3DS version, it makes me wonder how much more linear and limited the handheld port will ultimately be: how will Beenox replace the open-ended exploration, the random side-quests, and the extensive amount of content?

Finally, two more small complaints. I did like the idea of using the gyroscope to control Spider-Man’s new Web Rush mechanic, but the implementation is wonky in the demo – and using the feature with 3D turned on results in a lot of eye strain that could have been avoided if the stereoscopic effects automatically deactivated, such as in Mario Tennis Open. Last of all, this demo can only be played 10 times, where past 3DS demos have offered 30 attempts to play them. Even worse, you can’t just finish the trial version and re-start before going back to the Home Menu; the game makes you completely back out and re-start in order to play again. This means you really only do get to play through the trial version a limited number of times – though 10 is still plenty, I scoffed at the reduction nonetheless. Why should players who want to try new games be limited in their means of doing so?

What do you think? Are you interested in picking up The Amazing Spider-Man? Have you played the demo on the eShop? Leave some feedback below!

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