Spider-Man video games act as little mini time capsules of the video game industry. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it's because they release so regularly and haven't found a unique voice the way Batman recently has with the Arkham series. As such, they tend to look to trends for inspiration, and we can see that pattern in many of the games. Maximum Carnage on the Genesis and SNES showed the popularity of belt-scrolling beat-em-ups in the 16-bit era. Spider-Man on the original PlayStation nicely demonstrated both the rise of polygonal graphics and their hard limitations via the poisonous gas that prevented you from going down to the streets. Spider-Man 2, no doubt riding on the back of Grand Theft Auto, introduced an open world, something that has gone as well with Spidey as anything ever could. Spider-Man 3 was a QTE fest, Web of Shadows used an awkward Bioware-style moral dichotomy, Shattered Dimensions had Arkham-style stealth levels, and the console Amazing Spider-Man had support for motion controls.

The iOS Spider-Man games aren't all that different in that regard. Total Mayhem [$6.99] showed off the power that smartphones brought to the table, while still having that amateur production feeling many mobile games of the period had. 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man [$6.99], with its implementation of a true open world Manhattan to play in, felt like an excessive celebration of how far the platform had come in terms of technology, with a framerate to match that decadance. Look at a Spider-Man game, and you will get at least a part of the picture of the market in which it existed. That's part of what makes The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [$6.99] such an unfortunate state of affairs.

Photo 2014-04-20, 16 09 37

It does buck one recent major trend in that it's not a free game. Instead, it seems to truly be on the bleeding edge, since it contains a great many elements we would associate with a free game in the past, yet it has a price tag on it. You've probably already heard about the online requirement. It is indeed in the game, and at least so far, it's working about as disastrously as the worst naysayers could imagine. Every single time I've started up the game to play it for this review, the game has told me I have no internet connection, when my internet seems to be working fine for everything else on my phone.

I assume this is an issue with Gameloft's servers. I've basically had to sit there hammering the retry button for a minute or two until I can get through every single time I've played. On top of that, the online component seems to make the game very crash prone if you need to suspend it for any reason. Just the notification of receiving an email was enough to make the game halt in its tracks once. As the final cherry on top, this frequent online access, in conjunction with the high performance of the game, means this app will suck your battery dry very quickly.

I understand Gameloft's reasons for including this restriction, and I'm not going to go into whether I agree with them or not since that's not really salient to this review. What I will say is that if you intend to put this kind of element into a game, please make sure it works. It is incredibly irritating to be sitting next to a high-speed wi-fi router and have a single-player game refuse to run with the message that there is no internet connection. I'm sure this problem will be reduced as the server load decreases, but right here, right now, I have a game obstinately refusing to let me play without a whole lot of effort. If this is the plan going forward for their library, Gameloft needs to step their tech game up, badly.

Photo 2014-04-20, 16 09 58

Maybe you've also heard about the IAP in the game. There is a selection of extra costumes you can use in this game that modify your stats a little bit. Extra unlockable costumes are pretty much a calling card of Spider-Man games, and fans love seeing long-forgotten and/or minor looks for the character in motion. Including these costumes doesn't take that much work on the developer's end due to Spidey's love of skintight outfits, and fans love them, so it's sort of a win-win. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 includes several costumes. You start with the default movie costume, which looks pretty much exactly like the default comic book style. You can use the game's basic currency to unlock Kaine's Scarlet Spider costume, or you can get it by collecting a lot of extremely rare tokens. These rare tokens can also be used to unlock Miles Morales's Ultimate Spider-Man outfit and Doc Ock's Superior Spider-Man outfit, or you can buy them for $2.99 and $4.99 respectively. Finally, the popular Symbiote Spidey and Iron Spider costumes are only available by IAP, to the tune of $7.99 and a ridiculous $14.99 each. Worry not, though, because you can buy the whole set of costumes for a deal-licious discount of $25.99. The sheer audacity of it is almost admirable.

I guess in Gameloft's defense, you don't need these costumes at all. They're simply bonus items. That's unlike Spidey's various skills, which the game frequently requires the use of to progress the story. As in the last game, you can power Spidey up by using the currency you earn to unlock new skills on a web/tree. You're free to power up the skills you like, though they do get expensive pretty quickly. The problem is that certain story missions will suddenly spring it on you that you need a particular skill, and if you've made the horrible mistake of not being able to read the game's mind on the skills it wanted you to buy or, heaven help you, bought any of the game's consumable boost items, you're going to have to go and grind out the cash doing the game's side missions.

Initially, you get about 50 Spider-points for doing a side mission. The first skill the game requires you to buy costs 1000 points. The next one costs 2000 points. Some side missions also require particular skills unlocked. I don't mind this as much, but when you actually make me go solve 40 repetitive side missions before I can go on with the main game, that's ridiculously poor design. Actually, I guess it might be great design depending on your perspective, since Spider-points are available as IAP. It's not a fun thing for me as a player, I'll tell you that much.

Photo 2014-04-20, 16 09 47

So, arbitrary online requirement that has no benefit to the player, absurdly priced cosmetic IAP, and forced grinding that can only be alleviated by blind luck or buying consumable IAP. A true work of art, to be sure, but how's the actual game? That's the sad bit. The game itself, separated from all of this garbage, is pretty fun. It's not substantially different from the first game, but the controls are a bit smoother, the side missions are a bit less horrible, the voice acting is leagues better, and the graphics are even better than they already were in the last game. That last point once again results in a game that seems to be specced for unreleased hardware, since even on my iPhone 5S I was getting an iffy framerate at times, but it was still very playable when it wasn't booting me out due to connection problems. The city's a bit more alive, with more traffic and pedestrians. The side missions aren't even that bad the first few times you encounter them, though like the console open world Spidey games, they get old in a hurry.

The controls are very similar to the last game, with a jump/swing button and a virtual stick when there are no bad guys around, and a virtual stick with three buttons for attacking, webbing, and Spidey-sensing while in combat. There are occasional QTEs that mostly crop up in boss battles. Moving around the city feels pretty good, although Spidey is still cloud-slinging and swinging in general is a bit more simplified than I'd prefer. There's no controller support in the game yet, which is too bad, but the main touch controls are more than up to the task. Combat is still button-mashy with timed counters, but that fits Spidey fairly well and has been the general go-to for his games for over 10 years, so there's not much to complain about here. There's also Game Center support for leadboards and achievements, with a pretty big selection that will keep you busy for a while if you're into hunting them.

The leaderboards are connected to another of this game's new features, Mysterio's Arena. To play, you need to use a ticket which can be bought for 1000 Spider-points (so, 20 side missions). The game generously gives you the first one. In this mode, you have to fight off as many enemies as you can to earn points. When you run out of life, you're done. Your total will be compared tournament-style to other players at the end of each week, and the top three winners will get a miserable handful of tokens towards an unlockable costume along with a stash of consumables. Hey, if you win first place in the world for 10 weeks, you'll be able to get that nifty Ultimate Spidey suit. Others get some Spider-points, though most will likely just barely break even on the deal by winning a key.

Photo 2014-04-21, 8 40 17

I guess this is approaching a rant at this stage, so I should probably wrap things up. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is marginally better than the previous game in many ways, and I'd dare say we are approaching the quality of the early console open world Spider-Man games in most respects, which is a delight for just a fiver. At the same time, there are a variety of things included in this game that not only do not benefit the end user but actively sabotage the entire experience of trying to enjoy the game. Railroading players into repetitively engaging the side mission content (easily the part of the game least able to stand up to such scrutiny), trying to push long-term daily play on a game design that doesn't properly accomodate it, and hiding fanservice behind massive paywalls are all aspects that do their utmost to disrupt any enjoyment you're gleaning from the decent content. That the persistant connection is handled so poorly that the game kicks or locks you out at times is either the cherry on top of this mess, or a sweet mercy.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • https://www.youtube.com/HansKaosu HansKaosu

    My spider sense is not tingeling.

    • Intendro

      My spider sense reacts to Internet requirement and makes me dodge the game with superhuman speed.

    • otakuzod

      That's because Spider-Sense is IAP...

  • Maglor

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    Gameloft = NO ANSWER

  • worldcitizen1919

    Best review ever. So spot on. So just and fair. If I were Gameloft I'd make some urgent repairs to this broken game and LEARN from the 2 stars that that's all TA will be giving their future games based on this pretext. It's not acceptable the formula they've shoved in our face especially that they charged us a premium price to find out that it's really a freemium game. Gameloft TA has put you on notice.

    • OrangeJews

      Pfft, why would they care? The cash is pouring in and that's all they need. Game loft has a ton of cash-cow licenses and IPs, they could give a rat's ass about negative reviews.

      • OrangeJews

        They couldn't give a rat's ass, actually.

      • mr_bez

        The usage is correct, or at least acceptable. They COULD give a rat's ass, but they don't.

    • Shaun Musgrave

      Let's not get carried away. This is not Touch Arcade putting Gameloft "on notice". This is a review of a single game where the implementation didn't work well. I reviewed The Amazing Spider-Man 2, not the idea of online requirements or Gameloft as a whole.

    • Rip73

      Gameloft "on notice" from TA?
      I think you might be overestimating their influence there. Or that it matters in relation to App Store reviews. Or other review sites.
      Considering their is a divergence of opinion on this one with different review sites giving varying scores, with this one being the worst and others being more positive, I wouldn't overestimate the voice of one amongst many.
      Even on the App Store in the US, it has over 300 five star ratings out of 500 ratings and an average of 4.0 out of 5 stars.
      I thinks its those ratings they will be paying more attention to rather than being worried about being "on notice" from you.
      I doubt if one bad review of one game qualifies as a publisher being on notice from TA anyway.

  • Bool Zero

    Shaun is quickly becoming one of my favorite reviewers on here... His reviews are on point and never seem to gloss over stuff that will effect a persons gameplay.

    • christopherrocs

      His reviews are also hilarious! Call back to the dungeon keeper review ahaha

  • Based Xatu

    So online only was added so no one could steal the outfits and IAP? The fact that they are trying to charge over $35 for a half-assed mobile game is ridiculous. Xcom is $20 and you get everything. Gameloft you suck.

    • curtisrshideler

      Pretty sure all Iron Man suits in IM3 were around $100. I wanna know who in the world actually bought that IAP. Just ridiculous.

  • rseller1

    Great review; Poignant, accurate, and informative. After not long playing I'd echo the reviewers statements, only without the connection issues.

  • speedyph

    GREAT FUCKIN REVIEW

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    I like Spider-Man but even I will pass on this one. This was a good review (of a bad game).

    This is the best sentence that I have read all year. It's full of terrible action words and it's so juicy, I don't mind that it runs on a bit long. Here it is in bullet form should you want to reuse it for an Evil Game Developer Resume.

    - Railroading players into repetitively engaging the side mission content (easily the part of the game least able to stand up to such scrutiny),
    - Trying to push long-term daily play on a game design that doesn't properly accomodate it, and
    - Hiding fanservice behind massive paywalls are all aspects that do their utmost to disrupt any enjoyment you're gleaning from the decent content.

  • dribblejam

    Is it bad that I bought this game?

    • zergslayer69

      Quick, you must repent for giving your contributions to works of the devil(ish game developers).

  • curtisrshideler

    I'm done buying their games until they stop using a constant internet connection. I'll only download and try their free games. And if those are online only single player games, I will not be buying IAP. I really wish everyone else would follow suit.

    • Intendro

      I'm not buying anything requiring Internet in single player. It's completely illogical for that!

      • HarryWarden

        Ditto. It's ridiculous and not necessary on iOS as opposed to Android where I can see a little more rationale for its inclusion.

      • Joom

        So you think people can't jailbreak their idevices and then pirate games on them just like Android?

    • Stormourner

      I would rather follow my own suit. it's true the internet connection isn't needed for a single player and speaking of IAPs I extremely don't care about them

  • Nekku

    2 stars - well deserved.

    I just died because the game needs to make a connection to their servers after you tap the health potion and it doesn't responded.
    Worst €5.49 I've spend in a long time.

  • DuckyShot

    Thanks for posting this accurate review on the 'Web' lololololol

  • nimu

    Thank you TA for giving a 2 star review. They deserve this.

  • Boris Nguetie

    i love u T.A!!!

  • hovis49

    I've been playing the game since release on my iPad mini w/ retina and I never once had a problem with it saying I wasn't connected to the internet. I do agree the IAP are ridiculous, but I'm having a lot of fun with the game.

    • Boris Nguetie

      good for you! i wish i could say the same with my 150mbps internet connection.

  • Kane

    Not so mobile now is it? with a constant connection required.

  • dancj

    Even when they eventually fix their servers (as I'm sure they will) the online requirement only punishes the honest people who've actually paid for game.

    Along with copy protected CDs and DRM-ridden music I'll have nothing to do with any anti-piracy measures that punish the honest people more than they punish the pirates.

  • jammyman

    Should have released mc5 first methinks

    • Mekklesack

      If you starve the beast, it will turn against you... (Don't kill the messenger. Jus' sayin' that's all).

  • MachineJXD

    Actually it lags on park area on my ipad air because of trees and reflections and not only on ipad even on Android devices i am ashamed of this game >:(

    • Mekklesack

      It does the same lagging in the park area on the iPad mini with retina, as well.

  • Shifaan

    I don't care what they review because the game is perfectly fine for me, but only bad thing is full-time internet connection. This is a great game and there is nothing bothering me at all.
    I really hate how game reviewers always pick out the negatives over the positives much more, they always look on the dark side and stick with it, look at the bright side, there are a ton of features to enjoy. This should be a 4 star not a 2 star really.

    • Themostunclean

      It's kind of their job to point out the negatives.... Especially when the bad significantly outweighs the good, as in this case apparently.

    • Jake7905

      I'm glad TA didn't play Pollyanna when reviewing this game. They saved me 5 bucks.

    • AdamM

      If it is in regards to Gameloft get used to it. Gameloft does a lot of stupid things. They are the Walmart or Microsoft or EA of mobile gaming. Ever try to get customer support from them? Don't waste your time. They pump a lot of big name IP ripoffs out, some good some bad, but the attention to detail (many times BIG details) isn't there and their PR and customer support is awful.

      • Jake7905

        EA is the EA of mobile gaming.

    • Joom

      It's a game review, not a developer fellatio-fest

  • VirtualBoyFreak

    Paidmium!!!!

  • Jake7905

    Punish the pirates by punishing the people who pay. - Gameloft created a good tongue twister if nothing else.

  • Lamar Taylor

    This is actually a fun game but there are too many issues that ruin the experience. The good is the graphics are good, swinging around the city is fun and easy, and the missions are short and sweet. The bad is the need for a 24/7 Internet connection, IAP on a game that costs $5, and some of the side missions are so dumb that you can't believe they added them to the game. One side mission has you going to sign an autograph for someone...WTF? I also noticed in the reviews that anyone with an older device...has major issues with crashing and severe frame rate issues.

    All in all if you have an iPhone 5s, iPad Air, or iPad Mini 2...you will enjoy the game in short sessions unless you are away from WiFi. If you have an older iOS device...stay away.

  • Out5poken

    Thanks TA, this review has reassured me not to purchase the game...

    TBH I had already made up mind due to learning of the constant internet requirement..pff

  • josh nolan

    i feel like the overall mechanics of the game are pretty good and it looks very good... but yeah the internet connection blows... and i find myself always a bit short on points when i need a particular skill they require... usually by like 50 points.... overall its better than the other game and I enjoy it but yeah they need to clean up a few things... and $25.99 for the suits lol... honestly for like $10 I would buy them all... I don't mind paying companies for quality games especially to keep the whole premium game thing alive

  • Mike

    Oh, only 15 bucks for an extra spider-man skin? I'd rather make sweet, slow, passionate love to a blender than play this game.

  • Dylan R

    Everyone on here is clearly blind especially this reviewer. This is a console quality game on mobile. Gameloft got it near perfect. They make it for the newest tech too, not devices years old. The only downside is the annoying IAP's for everything basically. Besides that it's incredible. I've never seen this many levels and villains in a mobile game. They easily at least tripled the length of TASM mobile and it still costs less. Has tons more suits as TASM only had symbiote suit from Spider-Man 3 and Human Spider from Spider-Man. This game is a $9.99 at least quality game. A complete steal and great choice. The graphics for a mobile game are mine blowing easily equal to early PS3 and Xbox 360 graphic. Just crazy to have real quality 3D graphics and console type controls and not the annoying swipe to fight controls of most DC mobile games that have nothing but fighting. Constant online helps the game so much too. Being able to provide instant feedback as well as add the online fighting arena of Mysterio.

    • tranceforma

      Nice to see a positive response.

      I'm still on the fence with this game. It's taking every ounce of will power not to buy it.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 2