Does whatever a Spider can
As a rule, I’m generally suspicious of games that have to be released by a certain date, especially when they’re trying to launch alongside a movie. With the early footage and info about Spider-Man 3, I was hoping that I was wrong, but alas, again I’m proven right. While Spider-Man 3 is a decent game, it doesn’t live up to its next-gen status and doesn’t improve enough on the foundation that Spider-Man 2 laid down, with the end result being a game that is somewhat fun, but too buggy (excuse the pun) and unfinished to be great.
Spider-Man 3 follows the story of the movie, making little revisions and liberties to adapt to the game. However, using just the movie would probably make a sparse game experience, since the action in the movie was padded with exposition and no one wants to play Peter Parker running to meet Mary Jane or Aunt May. When we pick up a Spider-Man game, we expect to play as Spider-Man. To pad the game, Treyarch has added a bunch of classic Spider-Man villains as well as some assorted gangs to cause trouble and give Spidey something to do. In this respect, Spider-Man 3 plays similar to GTA, with Spider-Man swinging around to different icons to initiate different missions. There are also random crimes that occur that Spider-Man can stop as well as different events like sky-diving and racing. There are tons of things that Spider-Man can do in this game, but unfortunately, not all of it is fun. In fact, most of it isn’t fun, especially events that have Spider-Man swinging Mary Jane around town picking up hearts and gaining points by adhering to her whims, like swinging fast or high.
The combat is one of the worst areas of the game. It is understandably difficult to recreate Spidey’s unique fighting style and speed, but instead of reusing their previous fighting engine, Treyarch should have taken cues from innovative games like God of War II. While Spider-Man does have a ton of moves, with access to more as the game progresses, most of it degenerates into mindless button mashing. The collision detection is off, and some of the foes are ridiculously overpowered. Since when does a big man wielding an uprooted stop-sign or a morose female gang member with an umbrella have the strength to compete with the proportionate strength of a spider?
Additions to the combat system include the ability to use spider-reflexes and the use of the spider-sense. The spider-reflexes allow the player to slow down time with the press of a button and dodge or counterattack incoming attacks. Myopically, this is the only way to defeat or even combat a lot of your foes, and it gets tiresome to have to wait, counterattack, and wait again to defeat some of the more powerful foes. The spider-sense darkens the screen and highlights areas of interest, coloring threats in red and items of interest in yellow. The game forces you to use this in concert with a closeness meter sometimes to find people or threats, and surprisingly, this seek method isn’t fun at all and seems like a way to add to the gameplay length.
As always, however, the swinging in Spider-Man is incredible. Treyarch has done an exceptional job of recreating the experience of swinging from building to building, even doling out regular upgrades with mission completions. This means that while you start with simple web-swinging, as you progress through the game you gain speed, the ability to perform tricks, wall-run, slingshot with two webs, and more abilities to keep the web-swinging fresh and exciting. However, some areas of the game are unpolished, as occasionally, when Spider-Man lands on a building too fast or too hard, the game will make him wall-crawl backwards, as if he were inside the building instead of outside. Also, while wall crawling, the camera system becomes incredibly jerky, flipping upside on the ceilings and refusing to let the player get his bearings. While it is probably difficult enough to make an efficient camera system to follow a character that can wall crawl, the camera system in Spider-Man 3 makes it impossible to keep track of your own location in relation to the areas of importance when wallcrawling or when indoors.