After delivering one solid Spider-Man outing with Shattered Dimensions, but then faltering quite a bit with their execution on Edge of Time, it was hard to evaluate what The Amazing Spider-Man might turn out to be. Developer Beenox, since being handed the reins to the Spider-Man franchise from Activision, has demonstrated a love for the iconic web-slinger, but have often struggled to capture what makes him appealing.

At E3 2012 Beenox gave a live demo of The Amazing Spider-Man‘s open world gameplay, a first for this particular era of the series. However, fans of previous Spider-Man video games will recognize this title as a return to Spidey’s roots. Read on for our full E3 demo impressions.

First and foremost it’s best to get this out of the way: The Amazing Spider-Man is a movie tie-in, but it does not tell the same story as Sony’s summer blockbuster. Instead Beenox chose to go the same route as Thor and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and tell a story that exists in that same universe, but either precludes or follows-up the events of the film.

Amazing Spiderman E3 Preview - Web Swinging

In Amazing Spider-Man‘s case, the game picks up after the events of the movie, with Peter Parker having fully assumed the role of the wall crawling crime fighter. Parker’s Manhattan is a breeding ground for villainy, and its up to the player to eliminate as much of it as they can.

As was mentioned this is the first time a Beenox Spider-Man game has featured free form web-swinging, but there’s also a new form of traversal unique to this franchise known as the Web Rush. Meant to mimic Spider-Man’s “spidey sense,” Web Rush allows Peter Parker to slow down time and pick key points of interest that he can zip or swing to. A glowing silhouette of Spider-Man indicates accessible targets, and executing the move is as simple as a button press.

Picking a specific target can be as precise as players want it to be, but the game also accommodates simply choosing a new target over and over again without actually directing Spider-Man. The whole idea behind the feature is fast movement of the non-swinging variety, with a little bit of precision on screen if need be.

The Amazing Spider Man Preview E3 - Combat

In fact, there is no HUD to speak of in The Amazing Spider-Man, or at least there wasn’t one on display during the demo. Waypoints are indicated by a beam of light illuminating towards the sky, and all players need do is look up to point themselves in the right direction. The idea of having no HUD was strange, though, and coupled with the game’s closer camera angle, it made disorientation a frequent factor. But at the same time the lack of intrusive visual elements allows the gamer to better appreciate the visual splendor of truly being Spider-Man and swinging through high rises.

Unfortunately, at least at this point, the web swinging didn’t look as polished as it should. Frequently Spider-Man would “phase” through cars that he should have collided with, and the aforementioned lack of direction can easily become a real problem. Thankfully, if players do get lost they’ll have plenty of collectibles and side quests to justify their distraction.

One cool thing that Beenox shared during the demo was the game’s inclusion of collectible comic book pages that are scattered throughout the city. As each are found, the player can then look at them in full HD, and if they find the whole set they’ll actually be able to read a full issue. Among the comic issues Beenox talked about were the first appearance of Spider-Man, and a special comic that they say fans will be really excited about.

Amazing Spiderman E3 Preview - Web Rush

To close out the demo, we were also treated to a closer look at the combat and boss battles in the game. Beenox has scrapped the over-the-top nature of nearly everything in their previous Spider-Man games and gone for a look and feel that is grounded in reality. Gone are the web hammer moves of Shattered Dimensions, replaced with hand-to-hand combat that is bolstered by the use of speed and web movement.

Along those same lines Beenox has also created villains for the game that are biological in nature like Spider-Man, hence the inclusion of The Rhino and The Iguana. It was unclear how hindered Beenox was by this being a Spider-Man story that exists in the Sony universe, but the influence is definitely there.

No matter how exciting it was to see Spider-Man return to his open world roots, the notion that this is a movie tie-in still lingered. Some elements like Web Rush are exciting, but the game definitely has the generic look of a rushed product. We’ll reserve judgment for when the final game releases, but it could go either way.

What most excites you about Beenox developing an open world Spider-Man game? Which villains do you think would be a perfect fit for that biological creation category?

The Amazing Spider-Man releases June 26, 2012, for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS and DS.

Follow me on Twitter @ANTaormina