Publisher: Activision Inc.
Intl - 05/04/2007
N Amer - 10/01/2007
Spider-Man 3 Review
The legacy continually gets deeper and more robust. From comic books to television, film to video games, Spider-man is a pop culture icon that simply cannot be ignored. Spider-man 3, the official movie game from Activision (in concert with Treyarch and Marvel) will merely add to the Webhead’s status. It is a grand adventure, full of surprises, and with a sandbox mission style that will allow gamers to explore the city and take the game at their individual pace.
But the game is not without a few missteps.
Ok, let’s get the “iffy” out of the way first. The camera is a royal pain. While it does a solid job, most of the time, in tracking Spidey, it can stop tracking at odd times or follow when the Wallcrawler is crawling along the walls, giving a distorted sense of which way is up. And fight styles that work on peons will not work on bosses. In one scenario you are taking on a host of bad guys, a gang known as Apocalypse. There is the boss and followers. For the followers you can web grab them and fling them around. You can double jump in the air, web them up to you, beat on them a bit and then powerbomb them into the pavement. That either reduces their health to nothing or eliminates them from the fight altogether. But that tactic does not work with the boss. In fact, he seems immune to most of the web attacks and strategies. And it is not just Apocalypse that is immune. Each boss you encounter has the same profile in that regard, which means that you will be evading, and then coming in from sides or back (or front if you hit the square button and avoid the attack), getting in a few shots (or more than a few – one fight scene saw Spidey string together a 22-hit combo – not that it did a lot of damage, but it was impressive) and then it is back to avoiding the attacks/evading the attacker.
And if you are not into playing a button-mashing title, you need not pick up this game. Spider-man 3 is a gorgeous game with cinematic moments, but this is a hardcore button-mashing title.
So much for the bad, now on to the good …
You want villains? This game is rife with them. From the Sandman to the New Goblin (a PS3 exclusive makes Harry, as the new goblin, playable) and from Venom (Spidey’s black suit) to Dr. Connors as the Lizard, as well as street gangs and subplots, you can’t go more than a few blocks over the massive (and seamless) map before you get the old Spidey sense pinging like a navy fleet searching for a submarine running shallow.
The plot to the game is very free form. You are in Manhattan and while there are several plot threads that weave throughout the game, you can choose which path you want to pursue. You use the controller’s R1 and L1 buttons to cycle through the available scenarios. Some of these are linear in nature and you will have to accomplish other tasks in order to open them up. The Apocalypse gang, for example, will have you in the subways (the game takes place above city streets, in the canyons created by the builds and in the subway system) fighting gang members and disarming bombs. The gang is intent on creating anarchy in the city by blowing up the power resources and transportation venues. After a couple of subway missions (some of these are on a timer, so you had better have your web-swinging skills down), you will work up to a boss encounter.
Some of the missions will appear after you have been working through the game for a while. At approximately 12% of the way into the game, the New Goblin mission appeared. This is typical of the boss battles in that you are treated to a cutscene and the game moves right into the battle.
Bosses, of course, have much more health than peons and – as mentioned – are somewhat resistant to Spidey’s attacks, taking damage much slower.
Missions, once selected, are easy to find. The screen has a directional arrow that shows the distance to the mission starter – an icon that you walk up to and press the square button on the controller to activate.
As you progress through the game you will gain new abilities that are tied into the controller scheme. Attacks fall into four categories: ground, air, grabs (which includes web attacks like the Web Rodeo) and specials. Hitting the triangle button three times in quick succession will initiate a jump hammer smash if you are fighting on the ground. Most of the attacks are tied to the square and triangle buttons with web attacks hotkeyed to the circle button. There is a minor learning curve tied to the controls. The mini-games featured within the scope of the gameplay can be a bit repetitive.
Graphically the game is impressive. The characters mirror their movie counterparts very well, and the animations are silky smooth and a great deal of fun to watch. Swinging through Manhattan at night is also a special bit of eye candy, with the buildings lit up. The cutscenes are very well done and progress the various stories very well. The sound is also first rate with the movie’s actors voicing the dialogue.
The playable Goblin is an exclusive to the PS3 system (he looks a little like Raziel of the Soul Reaver series) but the game also has other bonus features – like “Webisodes” from the movie, an interview with the movie’s producer Avi Arad, and a collectible lenticular card with movie images on it.
The game is grand and epic in nature. It does have a few detracting points that might not appeal to all players, but it does stay true to both the character of Spider-man as well as being an excellent movie tie-in. If you are the type of gamer that likes a good button-masher, and can work past the occasional which-way-is-up camera angles, then this game should have tremendous appeal for you.
Review Scoring Details for Spider-man 3
The controller response felt a little sluggish at times, particularly in the intense button-mashing minigames, and there is a learning curve, but generally the game plays well. The minigames can be a bit repetitive.
There is little doubt that this game is gorgeous and the animations are a tasty bit of eye candy.
This is excellent, with solid music and action effects and the voices of the movie actors driving the game along. Though a bit trite at times, even Spidey’s introspective narrative can be enjoyable.
A button-mashers dream, but for the rest it could prove to be a tough proposition.
The scheme is a grand one with a sandbox feel and sufficient movie and non-movie tie-ins to keep the action going for a while. The minigames can be a bit repetitive and the camera could have been a bit sharper.
The camera issues aside, Spider-man 3 can be a tad repetitive when it comes to the mini-games, but the game looks amazing on a 42” Sony Bravia HD TV. It may not appeal to those who are not of the button-mashing game frame of mind, but the game still manages to produce high adventure in a semi-sandbox format over a huge game map. The PS3 version is packed with bonus material. If you are a fan of our “friendly, neighborhood Spider-man” you may want to pick this up.
GameZone Review Detail
Spider-man 3 is a button-masher with some camera issues, but is true to the film and franchise
Reviewer: Michael Lafferty
Review Date: 05/04/2007