Seen the movie yet? No? Spoilers ahead!!
After just my first hour, I was ready to be done with The Amazing Spider-Man. With so many things going against it at that point, the game came across as nothing more than a cheap, bland movie tie-in. Even after playing through to the end, the game sadly fails to web-swing out of the villainous clutches of mediocrity.
The story takes place immediately after the events of this year's Spider-Man movie reboot. There's no introduction of characters or recap of the movie's events, and if you have not seen the film yet, the game's plot is a jumble of confusion and spoilers.
Traversing levels is a balance of wall crawling and web swinging. The game also gives you the ability to use web rush, which slows time to a crawl and brings up a crosshair, allowing you to slingshot yourself around the stage and stick to the walls and ceiling. The ability is useful for getting the drop on unsuspecting enemies as you lower from the ceiling and wrap them in cocoons of webbing, then hoist and hang them like organic Christmas lights. Likewise, just zipping around and attacking enemies from any angle is pretty fun. Fighting is quite satisfying, letting you mix attack combos with dramatic and athletic signature moves, dodging maneuvers, and use of Spidey's crucial webslinging powers to fling yourself toward an enemy or plaster one to the floor after a successful signature move.
The jumping controls are a little finicky: you quickly tap the button to jump, or continue holding it for a small hop followed by Spidey's classic web swing. It's far too easy to accidentally do one when you intended to do the other, though, and the height difference in the jumping mechanic is so severe that, strangely, web swinging often sees you smacking into objects sitting around on the ground, dragging your feet through toxic substances on the floor, or not gaining enough height to reach that ledge you were aiming for. The camera (and aiming controls for web rush and web shooting) are twitchy and imprecise, as are movement controls during wall crawling, especially when the camera suddenly decides to zoom into Spider-Man's butt and spin wildly.
For a 3DS game, the 3D effects are applied sparingly at best. In fact, the 3D actually turns itself off during all pre-rendered cut scenes, pause and loading images, and every menu beyond the game's title screen. When it does kick in during levels, the image often ghosts terribly; this is the first 3DS game I've actually had to turn the 3D slider down while playing. The character and environment models are also quite basic. Particularly noteworthy is the complete lack of enemy variants; each type of baddie has only a single model that gets re-used every time one appears, without so much as an alternate texture map or palette swap.
The Amazing Spider-Man is rife with glitches. Expect to encounter disappearing enemies and special effects, enemies and objects you can't attack and can run right through, even cut scene dialog dropping in volume, overlapping, and repeating. Enemies sometimes clip through walls and become unreachable, requiring you to reload from the last save point. You can grab heavy objects such as cabinets and crates and hurl them around the room at enemies, but most of the time the items will simply disappear through the floor and nearby enemies will get knocked away by some invisible explosion. There are also many control panels throughout the game, which Spidey must activate to proceed; he can somehow “sense” the password to them, which you are required to tap in on the touchscreen. Trying to use these panels from the wrong angle, however, often causes you to slide across the ground to their front, sometimes getting endlessly stuck on walls or obstacles, or even sinking through the floor along the way.
Pop-up objective prompts occasionally fail to appear, and it's not immediately clear where to go or what to do next. Spidey himself gives no better suggestions than “keep on keeping on,” or “I should get going.” Helpful.
Like the Wii version, the open city from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions is absent from this game. Instead, you select missions from a bulletin board. This is understandable given the constraints of the handheld, but much of the fun of previous Spidey games came from swinging around the city looking for thugs to beat up and hidden items to collect.
Exclusive to the 3DS version is Vigilante Mode, a kind of mini-game in which you slowly take over a map of New York, cleaning up all crime in each area. The missions are small, story-based events with a choice of actions to take in each. It's kind of like a coin-flip game where you bet on a success percentage, and you can level up Spidey to take on bigger missions and work toward unlocking new areas. Of course, the 3D doesn't work at all here either, but the mode does have StreetPass functionality, and despite incredibly cheesy stories and solutions, it's actually pretty addictive.
Even as a fairly hardcore fan of Spider-Man, I can't recommend the 3DS version. The GameCube Spider-Man games from ten years ago were better than this. If you must play the game to find out the packaging's promised “untold epilogue” to the film, at least the Wii version doesn't suffer from all the glitches.
Lastly, to make a personal note on the silliness of the game's plot - I found it extremely off-putting that both Gwen Stacey and Doctor Connors repeatedly call Spider-Man by his real name in heavily populated areas, often when he's within immediate earshot of news reporter Whitney Chang, one of the game's new characters. Do secret identities mean nothing to the supporting cast, or does Peter Parker simply not care to shush them? It's no wonder the villains all figure it out so quickly!