Over the past few years we have seen numerous super heroes make the jump from comic to console games with mixed results. We've even seen new super heroes created with games such as Freedom Force from Irrational and it seems that right now people just can't get enough of being able to play as a famous comic book hero. Spiderman 2 is one of the biggest theatrical releases of the year and along with the movie, Activision have released a game. We earlier reviewed the PC version which is aimed a different market and it didn't overly impress us. We can however report that the console version is vastly superior and definitely worth a look.
The game follows the storyline of the film to a certain extent and thus if you don't want the film spoilt, its best to see it before playing the game. Peter Parkers friend is trying to track down Spiderman for revenge of his fathers murder while Dr Octavius is trying to perfect a new science project. When it all goes haywire, Spiderman is called in to restore peace to the city but will face numerous of his most famous comic book enemies along the way. The only puzzling factor with the storyline is the lack of personal scenes from the film being played out such as when Parker decides that he is Spiderman no more.
The game is divided into two main sections; the storyline missions and side missions which are randomly generated by the game. It is here where one of the disappointments shines through and that is the storyline missions usually don't last long and there aren't that many of them. The storyline missions in some cases are fantastic to play but others just plain annoying and frustrating. One such example is trying to swing out to the Statue of Liberty to defend it from a special effect attack. It will test all you web slinging skills and the odds are will take more than a few times to perfect. In the games defence however when you do pass what some might deem an annoying section, it places a checkpoint.
If the game was comprised of only story missions, it would be easy to finish in a few short hours of play so the game combats this with a random mission generator. As you swing through the city, markers will appear on the screen to indicate crimes in progress or someone wanting your help. These missions range from catching a balloon for a child through to defending an armored truck. There isn't much variety to the missions and within the first hours play it is likely you will have seen most of them. As you progress in the storyline, a few storyline oriented ones are added but it still feels repetitive. We usually bemoan games for artificially increasing the length, but this time its actually quite useful for a number of reasons.
The first being that when you complete these missions you are rewarded with hero points to spend on Spiderman. Some of the missions goals are to upgrade the web slinger so the game forces this upon you but only for movement ability. The other advantage is that the more you move around the city, the better you will become at using the web abilities. Towards the end of the game this becomes a big factor in the success of missions as sometimes you will have to chase people across the rooftops. As well as the typical thugs you find on the street committing crime, you will encounter famous enemies such as Mysterio, Shocker and Dr Octavius. These boss battles are a highlight of the game and where the main challenge comes from. Overall Spiderman 2 isn't a difficult game but it does have some tough moments.
One of the most impressive aspects of the game is the size of the city. Treyarch have recreated New York City for you to swing around in but don't expect a full replica. Most of the buildings are generic skyscrapers but the game does feature a few of the landmarks such as the aforementioned Statue of Liberty. The graphics of the game overall are fairly impressive, especially the animation and movement of the Spiderman character with the physics engine used for the web abilities very impressive and easy to use. The voice acting is decent with Spiderman belting out a few witty one liners but the civilian screams and shouts can become annoying after a while.
Spiderman 2 is a game which shows that films can be made into great games when a good deal of though is put into how the movie should translate. Some may be disappointed by the lack of personal scenes from the film but chances are they wouldn't have made great game missions. Although the game is a play once and shelve title it is still worth a play because the time it takes to complete the game is well spent gaming time indeed.