I remember some comedian joking, once, that people shouldn't complain about riding on uncomfortable airplanes. If he owned an airline, he said, its motto would be shocking: We can fly!
I sometimes feel that way about "Spider-Man" video games - that even though some are terrific, and some are hit-and-miss - every Spidey game lets you do a miraculous thing: You can fly!
In "The Amazing Spider-Man," I portray Spidey and I fly a lot, swinging on webs between buildings across the big city, landing on rooftops and climbing towers. That's pretty impressive.
The setting of the plot takes place after the events of this summer's film. It goes like this:
OsCorp uses science to make crazy cross-species creatures, but they escape. OsCorp creates robots to track down and battle the cross-species.
As Spider-Man, you fight both the weirdo creatures and the robots, because robots hate Spidey. You also battle boss villains from Scorpion to Rhino, Felicia Hardy, Vermin and others.
This is a Spidey game in which Peter Parker's crush is Gwen Stacy. (Plus, Peter gets spicy with a potty-mouthed journalist.)
The best things about "Amazing" are the cinematic scenes. They get us involved in general storylines.
It's also quite nice when Spidey (voiced excellently by Sam Riegel, star of many TV and game voice-overs) talks to us during crime fighting, web swinging and goofing off.
Alas, the game play is half-good and half-bad. It is a quintessential, workaday, average game if I've ever played one.
The first few hours are outright boring. (Crawling through ventilation ducts: Oy!)
Finally the game lets me begin to make adequate upgrades to fight villains - who mostly seem the same, as if they're from the jerk store.
During interior action sequences (the heart of "Amazing"), fistfighting and web-combat feel rote.
The only action that gets me juiced is hanging from ceilings so I can stealth-spin down atop a bad guy and pull him up to the ceiling into a web-cocoon trap. That's cool.
The occasional big bosses are stunningly confusing. A skyscraper-size snake (one-third into the game) was the moment I wanted to quit. (I have to do what, and to which part of the snake, and how? Awful.)
During the open-world portions, I fly through the city looking for side missions, but they are embarrassing:
A) Punching street robbers, snipers and crooks in cars (blasé); B) Transporting virus-infected civilians to hospitals (one of the dullest things in any game this year); C) Snapping photos of doors and stuff (snooze); D) collecting comic book pages scattered atop roofs (hate that).
So you see, it is OK to fault "Spider-Man" for not providing enough fun beyond flying, just as it is OK to criticize a plane's cramped ride - because flights of fancy shouldn't be a drag.
("The Amazing Spider-Man" by Activision retails for $60 for Xbox 360, PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for 3DS and DS - Plays average. Looks good. Challenging. Rated "T" for mild language, mild suggestive themes, violence. Two out of four stars.)
Contact Doug Elfman at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.