Not Your Regular Friendly Neighborhood
Spidey’s back, but he’s not in your regular friendly old neighborhood. He’s back and he’s none the worse for wear. In fact, he’s wearing two different suits for the occasion, each of them sporting different skills and attributes. Spidey also has his super-powered sense of humor intact, showing us that with great powers comes inane wisecracks. It’s nice to have the old, fearless, cavalier Spider-Man back. But he can also take that to extremes when he chooses the “dark side.”
While I have not had time to play the console version of this game, I am not immune to the grumblings that surface from the orifices’ of fellow reviewers. It would seem that I’m in luck because the PSP version is great. It’s like playing an interactive comic book, but at a time when comics were still good. My biggest complaint is that the game is too short. It’s sweet, but short. Overall, it’s a good package, very well-paced, great-looking and with the ability to immerse you into the character of Spider-Man.
All the action takes place in New York and this time the city is more aggressive, dangerous, and ruder, than you’ve come to expect. These events are making city cabdrivers look like momma’s boys. The event in question is the return of Venom and the sticky, black, evil life form known as symbiote that encapsulates our hero as a black and white costume. You will have the option of toggling between the regular Red Suit or the symbiote. The standard suit is fast and agile, while the symbiote suit is slower but much more powerful. But you’re not the only one to benefit from this alien accessory. Regular people are being infected with it, and they are definitely going to give you a hard time. Add to that a series of B-list super-enemies, and you’ve got your hands full.
Gameplay combines action, adventure, combat, and some light RPG elements that allow you to customize and personalize your character, not only in terms of skills and moves, but also in attitude and behavior. It’s an interesting concept that is implemented very well. First of all, I would like to mention the voiceover work for Spidey was done with a passion for the character, in addition to the writing, which is filled with funny wisecracks and sarcastic comments. Now this is where you come in. When Spidey enters into conversations with non-playable characters, you will have the option of three different responses: the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Your choices will affect your reputation. These choices are not limited to conversation but actions as well. You will be presented with various morale dilemmas such as choosing to free the good clone version of J. Jonah Jameson or his actually, grumpy self. Your reputation will be reflected in a score that will be assigned to one of the two suits. The more you favor a particular attitude, the more points will be assigned to the corresponding suit. This will then allow you to upgrade moves and skills to a particular suit. As in an RPG, you will receive a form of experience points for success in battle.
Spidey does start out with a limited amount of moves such as a punch, kick, jump, and web spin, but you can purchase more at each checkpoint. Another interesting feature is that you don’t necessarily have to start at the last save point. At the point of demise, a mini-game appears where the object is to collect as many red glowing balls as possible while avoiding the black ones. If you manage this task successfully, Spidey regains his life at full health, and you don’t have to play the level over again.
Enemies include a variety of human lowlifes, people infected with the symbiotes, and super villains that act as bosses such as Kraven the Hunter and The Shocker. As I mentioned, this is the B-list of baddies, so you’re not going to see the likes of the Green Goblin. Other than the aforementioned bosses, the other enemies are quite easy to beat, despite some of the collision detection issues that require you to jump or launch yourself from a higher plateau. Points are awarded for combat and can be used to purchase new web-based moves as well as increased strength, speed, endurance, and health. In short time, you’ll have a good assortment of moves at your disposal with more impressive acrobatic-style animations.
Spidey has some unique moves which are different from typical fighting games. He is able to climb walls, swing from his web, shoot webs at enemies to stun or capture them, and sense danger clairvoyantly. The controls are easy to access and the moves are responsive to your commands, although you will notice some poor collision detection mechanics from time to time. When Spidey’s moves aren’t enough to handle a given situation, you can call on various superhero buddies to help protect your spider-butt. I won’t spoil the surprises, but suffice it to say that most of them, like the enemies, are mainly B-list heroes. But that’s not to say that it’s disappointing because they are all diverse and do a few things very well. The overall animation is so good it makes it a treat to see them in action.
At the outset, the combat is little more than button mashing, but as you progress, and you will do so quickly, the moves become more varied and interesting. There isn’t much of a learning curve, so anyone can get into the action instantly. Graphically the game is great. Spidey’s animations are fast and fluid. The cityscape is impressive, but we only get to play in a small chuck of the Big Apple. It’s also a little empty-looking, as it’s void of background details, but considering that there is some slowdown, it’s a sacrifice we’ll be willing to live with. The voiceovers are great, capturing the real essence of our hero. Sound effects and soundtrack tunes are limited and are repeated to the point of absurdity.
You can play the game as a good Spider-Man and replay it as a bad Spider-Man, as that’s the only replay value you’re going to get here. It’s a great game, but it’s over all too quickly. I highly recommend it, but I recommend it as a rental.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
Fluid animations. Vast cityscape. Good comic book-style colors. However, the city is limited and there is some slowdown. 4.5 Control
Simple and effective controls combined with the new moves gained over time make up for the initial button-mashing experience. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voiceovers, but the repeated tunes and sound effects annoy. 4.0 Play Value
Varied gameplay keeps it interesting. Though it is a short game with little replay value. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.