Spider-Man 2
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2, GC
Publisher
Activision
Developer
Treyarch
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Large, impressive city to swing around
• Improved combat and swinging mechanics
• Random crimes to solve
• Lots to find and do

The Bad

• Graphics could use more polish
• Random crimes are limited in variety
• Animation and voicework is a bit stiff

 
Grade
B+

It seems that the recent trend in videogames is to actually put effort into making games licensed from movies. In recent years, we've seen an improvement in a genre usually littered with half-ass dreck and quick-fix cash-ins. With Spider-Man 2, Activision looked to build on the success of the first title and actually do something with the game that some fans had been wishing for: a large, living city for Spidey to swing around (like a superhero version of Grand Theft Auto). The story works along similar lines as the movie, though Treyarch did toss in extra bosses like Rhino, Mysterio and Black Cat to fill the game out more.

The first thing you'll notice this time around is that Spider-Man can pretty much go anywhere in the immensely realized city. While most buildings and shops will be unavailable for entry, there are a good handful that you can enter, if only for mission or story purposes. Why allow Spider-Man free reign of the city? Well, to let him stop crimes or help the citizens of New York City. Much like True Crime: SOLA, Spider-Man 2 features "random crimes" that Spider-Man can (and often must) stop. Sometimes these just happen and other times, you have to talk to certain NPCs on the street. Completing these missions give you hero points, which becomes pretty important as you'll need a certain amount of these points to go from one chapter to the next.

The game is broken up into chapters and in each chapter, you're given a series of objectives to complete. Most of these objectives are simple enough - get from one location to another, do something to progress the story or just collect a certain amount of hero points. From time to time, new "surprise" objectives, which are basically boss scenarios or additional crime/story elements, get tossed in to try and keep you on your proverbial toes.

Spider-Man 2 features some nicely improved mechanics, both in the webswinging and combat department. This time around, Spider-Man actually needs to sting his webs to buildings to swing through the city, instead of a magical ceiling from the first game. Because of this, you'll find the mechanics more in-depth, especially when using the in-game physics to swing around buildings. When leaping off of buildings, be sure to have somewhere nearby to attach a web. As you're swinging, you can jump to aim your direction better and then shoot another web to continue moving. Once you get the mechanics down, you should be able to move through the large city at a great speed.

Once you get into combat, you'll probably be surprised at how easy it is to get into. Once you start purchasing advanced moves with the points you earn, you'll really be able to pull off some spectacular fight sequences. While there is only one attack button, when you combo it with the jump, dodge, and web buttons, you'll be able to do a lot of moves, including webbing your enemies to blind them or swing them about. You can web one guy, jump in the air and pull him into your hands, only to beat him to a pulp before you hit the ground again. The nice combat action really makes "solving" the crimes a lot more fun than it could initially have been. In fact, you may be looking for fights to pick just to try off your moves.

Along with the main story are challenges and a large number of hint markers to locate for points. In fact, you may spend a good bit of your time hunting these down for the sake of saying you found them. For those who get through the roughly 10-hour length of the story mode, the additional challenges is sure to extend the life of the game for you.

When it comes to both audio and visuals, Spider-Man 2 does a good job, but still manages to need a little extra polish that keeps it from being great. The gameworld of Spider-Man 2 is immense and full of life. When swinging through the city, you're sure to be impressed by the detail and the fluidity of the world that shows no signs of loading as you swing about. As you progress in the game, day shifts into night and back into day, giving a nice feeling of playing in what passes as a real world. Because of the large gameworld size, you may spend days just swinging around, but when you need to get somewhere important, the game markers are clearly displayed and you should have no problem with them or the in-game map. When it comes to the fine details, though, the game lacks. Spider-Man and most of the major characters look good, even though they move a bit clunkily in the cutscenes, but the random NPCs and criminals on the street come across as bland and boring. Also, the vehicles lack a certain level of polish to make them more believable. Fortunately, these both can be ignored as the rest of the package works just fine.

Spider-Man 2 features the voicework of the major actors from the movie, including Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina and Kirsten Dunst. Each delivers a good performance, although some lines feel a little stiff. Probably the best bit of the voice acting goes to Bruce Campbell, who does the hint comments. As always, Bruce is just funny in his dry, abusive way of making comments. The NPC chatter is decent, even though is mostly functional, boring and repetitive. Unlike the GTA series, there doesn't seem to be as much "random chatter" from the people on the street. Sound effects are well done and give the on-screen action a good backing. The soundtrack is cinematic and compelling without being overblown and cheesy, although it seems to be completely missing when you're not in a story sequence.

Along with what's already been noted, I'd have to comment that the only real "drawback" I found with the game is the repetitiveness of the "random crimes". It won't take too long for you to have exhausted all renditions of the crimes. This wouldn't be an issue if it weren't for the fact that you have to perform these duties to move from chapter to chapter. Luckily, the combat is fun enough to keep these from being overly tedious.

With anything noted in this review against the game, one must be made aware that Spider-Man 2 is fun. I had a good time playing the game, even if I found the crimes repetitive and some of the content a bit flat. For Spider-Man fans (movie and comic), this is a game worth checking out. If you're not a big fan, you should at least rent it and see if the adventure is worth your time.

- - Vane

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