When I wrote up Gameloft's Dark Knight Rises mobile game for Android and iOS earlier this week, I compared it to their previous release, The Amazing Spider-Man, and for good reason. The games are very similar, both were released to tie in with a big summer movie, use the same "virtual joystick" control scheme, and the settings are even similar -- you could almost believe that Spider-Man takes place during the day in the same place as TDKRTMG's night. The real difference is where the games draw their influences: While Dark Knight is clearly meant to echo Rocksteady's Arkham series, the Spider-Man game takes its cues from the Activision/Neversoft Spider-Man games that started way back in 2001.

And if that's the case, I have to admit that I'm impressed. For something that you can carry around in your pocket, this thing puts the Dreamcast version to shame.

While the two games share the same kind of open-world environment punctuated by missions, Spider-Man puts a much bigger influence on free-roaming, letting the characters web-sling around a miniaturized version of midtown Manhattan to their heart's content between missions. It's actually the most fun part of the game. Gameloft (which provided CA with a free review copy of the game) has copied the nice-looking motions of Spider-Man swinging and spinning through the air from more recent console titles like Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, a game that was as notable for how fun it was to get around as it was for its hilariously ridiculous plot.

The encouragement to wander around comes in the form of "Breaking News" alerts that inform Spider-Man of gunfights and car crashes around the city that he can go and help out with instead of getting on with the actual storyline. They're more than a little repetitive, and it's essentially just grinding for levels, but it's fun enough to do that it actually does help pad out the game and give it that time-wasting element that makes it worth the $6.99 you'll be paying for it. That's also what gives the game one of its most distinctive and intriguing elements.

In addition to just letting you know that the side missions are available, the "Breaking News" bar across the top of the screen also operates on an unseen timer; if you don't get to a mission before it expires, it will straight up yell at you for letting people die.

The best one -- and by that, I mean most guilt-inducing -- comes when you don't show up at one of Manhattan's many car accidents, letting you know that a woman died "because no one bothered to help her." And even if you do compete the missions, if you don't do them fast enough, the "News" comments on how your rescue of the injured driver "may have done more harm than good" and how you really suck at helping out the police:

It was initially pretty frustrating, because hey, I'm doing my best over here. And no sooner had that thought entered my mind that the guilt and frustration were on purpose -- that's 100% accurate to Spider-Man's life in the comics. That dude is always getting yelled at by the media! If only they'd called it "Daily Bugle" instead of "Breaking News," it would've been perfect.

It's a really nice touch, especially since it represents something that the movie it ties into left out. It's enjoyable stuff -- even if that "virtual joystick" is still awkward as hell to control sometimes.

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