To accommodate your time-manipulation, super speed, and one-hit stealth kills, most baddies, even the most simple can take you down with just a few hits. The effect is even worse when they're carrying guns, removing some, if not all, of your mobile advantage. By making you more susceptible to damage, the game forces you to abandon constant button-mashing melee for at least some sense of tactical strategy, keeping things from getting too stale. The only time The Amazing Spider-Man breaks this formula is for its frequent boss battles, which often combine the open, high-speed webslinging of the outside sandbox with the precision-focus of standard combat. The result can be exhilarating, with some of the outdoor, city-spanning scrums offering the sensation of actually living a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.
Sadly, while The Amazing Spider-Man has a solidly constructed movement and combat system, its framework never quite binds it all together as well as you'd hope. From a story perspective, the game is a jumbled mess from its very first minutes. Peter Parker breaks into the restricted area of a sinister genetics facility after hours, casually strolls among its giant staff of scientists, and practically shouts, "Geez, I hope no one finds us here, THAT WOULD BE BAD!" to a nearby friend. Shockingly, this behavior gets him bagged by the company's head honcho just minutes later, which he immediately wiggles out of by claiming that "he just really likes the place." And what does the evil corporate overlord do in response to this brown-nosing trespasser? Why, offers him a friendly guided tour of all his illegal experiments, of course! Yeah, Agatha Christie this is not.
Aside from the more asinine aspects of the story, the quest objectives themselves often are repetitive and pointless. You'll save the same key person twice, fight the same mini-boss three times, and almost every single thing you're asked to do will at some point have you visiting OsCorp, the giant genetics facility in which you started. The game tries to keep you tense with the inclusion of a fake, Manhattan-exclusive Twitter-like feed that's supposed to showcase the fears and feelings of the common folk, but in the end you'll never care about anything you're doing or anyone you're doing it for.
There are a few minor annoyances with the interface as well; chapter select and various other options are only available from your commonly inaccessible apartment, and you can only have one master save going at any one time. Partner this with some questionable story components and repetitive quests, and you end up with a package that struggles to support what are often some really fantastic core mechanics. Still, a good Spider-Man game should foremost be about actually making the player feel like Spider-Man, and that's where The Amazing Spider-Man really earns its adjective.
Bottom Line: Spider-Man's landed himself in one more somewhat cockamamie story that doesn't quite work, but a slick movement system and a fun combat scheme do a lot to make up for it.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a good popcorn action game, The Amazing Spider-Man does a great job of doing just enough to keep you playing.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.