|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Torus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Vaughn||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Vaughn Smith
Last year's Ultimate Spider-Man set the stage for comic book mayhem with its duel hero/villain storyline allowing players to swing through the city as everyone's favorite webheaded teen and to smash and crash their way across Manhattan as Venom. One year later New York City isn't any safer despite our heroes best efforts as a rampaging Green Goblin has taken center stage. Continuing the yin-yang relationship between good and evil, Battle For New York's gameplay hook is the ability to play as Spider-Man and Norman Osborne's demented alter-ego. It should be noted that since the game is based on the Ultimate Spider-Man universe, the retelling of Spider-Man that returns him to his early teenage years, the Green Goblin is not the masked-wearing, glider-riding, pumpkin-bombing villain of yesteryear. This GG is a hulked-up monster capable of incredible feats of strength, death-defying leaps and unfortunately for our hero, possesses the ability to shoot incinterating fireballs from his hands.
If you've played Ultimate Spider-Man on the DS, you'll have a very good idea what Battle For New York is going to toss your way. However, Battle For New York feels tired and instead of really throwing anything spectacular into the mix, seems quite content rehashing many of the elements from the first game. I understand this is a formula most game developers will use for their sequels, but given the linear level design and perfunctory action found in Spidey's levels - beat up a wave of enemies, save some innocents in danger and repeat - the gameplay gets old, fairly fast. Goblin's portion of BFNY doesn't quite have the same "verve" as Venom's, since Gobby is relegated to the ground (although he can leap) and has a somewhat limited palette of interesting moves.
Spidey can punch, kick and dodge and his usual assortment of moves such as web-swinging, web-zip, web-yank and web-shot are present and accounted for. Goblin can punch, jump, grab and of course shoot fireballs. Players can upgrade both characters skills as the game progresses resulting in more damage, increased health etc and they'll also have special moves available as well. The control is responsive and tight, although I found a few instances of poor collision detection which caused me some grief. The touch screen comes into play every now and again and they feel more tacked on than inspired at this point. I personally detest having to interrupt the current action to sweep my fingers across the screen to lift a heavy object. It just doesn't translate properly. The touch screen is also used for accessing special moves and that fares a little better.
The levels are short and mostly consist of the obligatory city or factory settings, which require getting from point A to point B. If you die, you'll be sent back to the beginning which can be more frustrating due to the repetition than the overall challenge.
Even the plot and its execution via comic book panels ala Ultimate Spider-Man, just isn't as deep or as interesting, but they do look great. Last year's game featured a story which was sliced and diced from the console version but still managed to tell a coherent, yet succinct story. Torus put the time and effort into the quality cutscenes but skimped a little on depth. Since the game is presented as "two sides to every story", you'll often revisit the same areas with both characters to play out the scenario from the currently selected characters perspective.
While the DS is begging for a 3D Spider-Man game along the lines of the PSone game by Neversoft, BFNY continues the pseudo 3D look, by using 3D polygon characters set amongst a 2D environment. Visually the game looks very good with impressive character models, smooth animation, crisp framerate and as mentioned, excellent comic book cutscenes. For a DS game there is suprising amount of dialogue and it's quite effective. The background music is equally inspired.
One opportunity both Ultimate Spider-Man DS games have missed is the ability to play Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin in a two player setup. Although I'm completely ignorant of the logistics of creating such an event, I can't imagine it would have taken a ton of effort and most likely would have been the catalyst for some extra longevity. Maybe next year...
Fans of the previous game will most likely want to investigate this year's Spider-Man offering, as there hasn't been a new Spidey title in quite some time - nor will there be another one until May (if it's not delayed until November 2007). Battle For New York will satiate the inner comic book fan for a few hours, but a rental would certainly settle your cravings for some Spidey action.
CCC Site Director
Ultimate Spidey takes on the Green Goblin to save The Big Apple this Fall. by Cole Smith
Spider-Man: Battle for New York is the sequel to last years Ultimate Spider-Man. Employing the talent of Marvel artist Ron Linn, the game will exhibit the same Ultimate Spider-Man graphics, based on the Ultimate Spider-Man series. The game features a presentation that looks like an interactive comic book. The cutscenes will feature moving comic panels with dramatic text bubbles and occasional animated slices of action. Expect to do some reading if you really want to get involved in the storyline.
Like last years game, Battle for New York will feature plenty of exciting, beat-em-up action. Spidey will have his usual assortment of moves including punches, kicking, jumping and swinging but now hell also be able to crawl up and down walls. For extra depth, pressing up on the D-pad when throwing a punch will result in an uppercut. You can also launch opponents into the air and continue to juggle them with punches. The spin attack is one of Spideys super moves. As he jumps into the air he spins a few times before coming down on the enemy like a ton of bricks.
All of the action will take place on the top of the screen while the bottom screen is used to activate codes and other features for puzzles and a few special moves. Simply touch one of the icons to active a particular move, digit or puzzle sequence. Most of the code-breaking puzzles will be featured as mini-games. For convenient sake, the main list of moves will be mapped to the control buttons so that youll still feel like youre playing a videogame and not dialing a number on your cell phone.
One of Spider-Mans most famous moves is his webslinging. He can spin webs to capture enemies, defend himself and use it for transportation purposes as he swings his way through the streets of New York. In this game youll also be able to play as the Green Goblin who will have a unique set of moves. But because this is the Ultimate Green Goblin, he wont be flying around on his high-tech platform or throwing pumpkin bombs. Hes much less refined and much more dangerous and destructive.
Battle for New York uses 3D environments but is essentially a side-scroller. Spidey and his foes move from left to right across the screen but to add more dimension the developers have utilized tiers and platforms so that you will be moving up and down as well. Its designed to fool you into thinking that youre playing in an open environment and from what weve seen it does a convincing job with the use of various imaginative camera angles.
My Spider sense is tingling and its telling me that we can expect a lot of inclement fighting this Fall.
CCC Senior Writer