|Xbox, PS2, GC
| Language, Violence
| The Good
Looks just like a comic book come to life
Boos fights are pretty fun
Lots of unlockables
Tons to do and find outside of main story
| The Bad
Spidey sounds too young at times
Too many chase sequences
A bit short
With two games
based on the movies, it was about time that a Spider-Man game
was based on the comic books. But, instead of taking a shot
at the standard Spider-Man universe (also known as Earth
616), this game takes the revised story as told in the
Ultimate Spider-Man series. This isn't too much of
a bad idea as the standard Marvel universe is becoming worse
than pre-Crisis DC. The story begins as Peter Parker (who
doubles as Spider-Man) rejects the black symbiote which then merges
with his former friend, Eddie Brock, to become Venom. Some
months after defeating Venom, Spider-Man runs into his old
friend turned enemy. Of course, he also runs into a number
of other enemies and allies, including Silver Sable, the Beetle,
Rhino and Electro. With story and art by Brian Michael Bendis
and Mark Bagley, a lot has gone into this game to make it
as close to the comics as possible.
While Spider-Man plays much like he did in the previous game,
there are some noticeable revisions. One of the most notable
changes is the change in the swing system. I actually don't
mind the change and feel that it streamlines the action, but
some who fell in love with Spider-Man 2 may take issue.
Spidey gets a standard swing and a zip-line swing, both with
are useful in making quick travel through the city. As you
swing around town, you'll find a number of icons floating
about, most of which are races. You have to find/complete
a number of these objectives to "unlock" the next portion
of the story mode. Even when not performing the objectives
to move the story along, you'll get the occasional bit of
hero-ing to do. Some times this requires you to rescue someone.
Other times, all it requires you to do is beat the crap out
of some thugs.
Combat isn't overly complex, but it works. Spidey can throw
punches, kicks, jump and shoot webbing. Using a combination
of the lot allows you to pummel your way through opponents.
Only you beat an enemy into submission, hit him with your
webbing to keep him from getting back up. One of the sets
of objectives available is Combat Tours, where you beat up
groups of thugs throughout a certain location, which tends
to be pretty easy as even if they have guns, you can dodge
when Spider-Man's Spider Sense goes off.
When the game shifts to Venom, you have to get used to a
different manner of playing. The brutal nemesis is far more
physical than Spider-Man. You launch into Hulk-like jumps
and dish out all manner of brutal slams and poundings on the
waves of minions. There's no heroic sandbox efforts with Venom.
He's all about pounding the crap out of opponents. As you
move around, Venom will need to replenish his energy. To do
this grab a nearby human and drain them dry. In large waves
of enemies, you can just feed you way through your opponents.
And, Venom also has the wonderful skill of picking up cars
and throwing them around like projectiles.
Along with the main game are a ton of unlockables. To get
most of them, you just have to swing around the city and find
the appropriate icons. These unlock cover art, building images,
preproduction sketches. You can also unlock additional costumes
by finishing a certain number of City Events (you know, where
you save people or stop crimes).
When it comes to difficulty, the game tends to be all over
the place. At times, the game can be a breeze and then you'll
find yourself forced into a sequence that's noticeably harder.
Fortunately, the boss fights are both fun and challenging
without being overly difficult. The boss fights tend to make
up for any imbalance in difficulty the game may have. Expect
lots of races and chase sequences which are sure to wear on
your last nerve. In fact, I would say that there are just
too many chase sequences.
Visually, Ultimate Spider-Man is the best looking
Spider-Man game out this generation (well, actually it's the
best looking one to date, period). Without having a movie
to tie into, Treyarch has managed to go to great lengths to
capture the comic-book look and feel. The game world is massive
with a certain stylish flair to it that keeps the characters
from feeling out of place. All the major players look and
move like you would imagine them to. While the PS2 version
suffers from low res textures and a bit of jaggies, all version
look pretty good. There are a few glitches here and there
as the game streams textures in as your traveling through
the city. And, did I say how massive the city is? Yeah. HUGE.
The only real drawback I found was the pretty uninspired character
models for the standard citizens and thugs. Outside of that,
I couldn't be more pleased with the way the game looks.
Audiowise, Ultimate Spider-Man works pretty well.
The soundtrack is filled with techno/rock and kicks in from
time to time (though I would say that it doesn't kick in enough).
Sound effects and surrounding audio bits work to solidify
the buzzing game world. The voice acting at times is dead
and on and feels right. But, there are times where Spider-Man
sounds a little too young, like he's actually two days away
from puberty. Apart from that, I would say the voice cast
does well to deliver the lines in the context of the story.
While the core of the game and story works well and is a
blast for the fans, the biggest flaw that the game has is
the game's short length. Even with some of the more difficult
portions, the game takes roughly between five and tens hours
to beat. Fortunately, that time spent is well invested and
the fact that there's so much to unlock will live Spider-Man
fans swinging around after the game is finished.
If you've enjoyed the previous games in the series and have
been waiting for far too long for a comic book version of
Spider-Man, go out and get this game. It may be short, but
it feels like a slice of the comics come to life. The boss
fights are enjoyable and the tons of unlockables in the open
game world will give you some great entertainment. Heck, you
should just play this game for the comic-book styled cutscenes
alone. Good thing there's a good game in here as well.