Marvel Comics‘ legendary web head finds himself swinging onto Apple’s magical handheld gaming tablet and starring in a new adventure tied to his latest movie in The Amazing Spider-Man (Gameloft, rated 9+, reviewed for iPad 2, $6.99).
A player controls a slick looking Spider-Man as he freely roams a three-dimensional version of New York City in more than two-dozen missions tied to stopping a super villain and a plot set to unleash anarchy on his fair city.
From running across the grassy confines of Central Park to hanging on illuminated billboard signs of Times Square and scaling to the tippy top of the Oscorp building, our hero is always looking to help citizens, assist police, bludgeon criminals and bask in the admiration of fans.
The story features a pair of gangs, the Free Radicals and Deadbeatz, teaming up to steal Dr. Curt Connor’s research and use a weapon of gas destruction. It requires Spider-Man effortlessly search the city for clues while pounding the truth out of groups of thugs.
With Spider Sense tingling above his head when danger is imminent, Spidey’s fists, feet and webbing are his tools of pain. A player taps appropriate icons on the right hand corner of the screen to web blast and wrap as well as deliver frenetic fatal blows to the enemies.
Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, it’s a much more disorganized combat style than I hoped for. Practice makes perfect here as attacks and counterattacks involve both button mashing and well-orchestrated taps. Those facing off against Killah Chambers and his crew will know what I mean.
Thankfully, other mission activities are mixed in besides the combat and include saving scientists dangling from poles with some quick reactions, defusing bombs and riding a car door like a tethered jetski while chasing foes.
Help to the often-bruised hero arrives as he collects spider icons (the game’s currency to buy health boosts, a camera and even the vaulted black Spider-Man suit) and successful fights lead to skill points spent on a branching level up system.
The welcomed complexity allows a player to further refine his web prowess, add attacks such as kicking an enemy in the air and increasing running speed.
When not on a mission, Spider-Man can quickly attack criminals on street corners, collect lizard scales and prove to Gwen Stacy (his true love) he can help the city through feats of speed, power, and strength.
The game’s best moments are found by simply swinging around the Big Apple. In tandem with a virtual directional pad, tapping onscreen buttons has the hero jump up and shoot a web to take flight, target specific icons that cause him to immediate web to and land upon.
Besides some occasional wall-climbing confusion, it’s a seamless experience backed by picturesque moments found from almost every skyscraper dive. In fact, the design never disappoints beginning with a solid, motion-comic-illustrated beginning scene and the uses of reflections, sunlight and shadows on the buildings and Spidey.
While bouncing around the mildly bustling city, our hero also constantly runs into loving female fans. What I found amusing (and may be simply my overactive pop art imagination) is they dress and sort of look like familiar lead characters from the comic book — Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy and Betty Brant — all garbed in a selection of late 1960s attire.
What’s refreshing throughout is Spidey has a wry sense humor and never lets anyone forget to give science geeks a break.
For those 10-year old mobile gamers looking to live the virtual life of a costumed hero, The Amazing Spider-Man for the iPad won’t disappoint.
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A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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