Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spider-Man 3 The Game Review

Platform: Video Games, PC Games
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: T - Teen
# Of Players: 1

It seems lately that if you see a super blockbuster movie coming out, you can also expect a video game to accompany the release. And Activision did not let us down with the release of the new Marvel Comic’s cinematic release of Spider-Man 3. Of course Activision never does anything half-way either as they released Spider-Man 3 The Game on just about every platform including Sony’s PlayStation 3 PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, and of course the Wii, and even wireless. Today we will talk about the PC platform.

Spider-Man 3 The Game allows the gamer to swing free-form through the streets, or rather above the streets, of New York City picking and choosing the battles that he wants to fight. Yes, you can pick a mission from about 42 missions, swing into action right away and battle evil where it lays, or you can just play around and take on a mission when you happen across it. It might be a police car chase, or saving a poor man from a gang of thugs as he is dangling over dock ready to be dropped into the deep blue. Yet other missions will lead you to rescue a variety of hostages allowing you to feel the thrill of being THE Spider-Man and save the day.

Fear not, as you will be basically following the storyline of the mega cinematic adventure as well as the comics and you will also have the opportunity to battle against such bad-guys as Kingpin and Kraven. But you will also be able to face the Sandman and even Peter Parker’s “best friend”, Harry Osborn as the New Goblin. Then there is the internal battle with Venom, the black-suited Spidey making for some really interesting fun for many. The longer you play, the “darker” the adventure will become.

Spider-Man 3 PC game is visually very appealing. The city environment is wonderful to look at and swing through and around. You cannot go into every building though you will go into some during select missions. You will interact with the environment nicely as you must avoid being hit in the pedestrian crosswalk by one of these New York cabbies. You can also ride down the street standing on any of the vehicles as the driver seems to have no idea that he or she has a Spider-Man riding on top. I would have to say that I found the PC and Xbox 360 graphics to be the best in class while the PlayStation 3 was more like the PlayStation 2 in appearance. And much more could have been done with the water effects while Spidey splashes around in the rivers…there aren’t even any ripples while he swims.

Gamers will also enjoy Spidey’s off-handed comments though you might find yourself telling the web-suited guy to shut-up once in a while. Much of the Spider-Man and villain banter is often repeated over and over again and gets a little old. But the city noise is a little - okay a lot - thin. Where is the road noises like the car horns? Or how about the road and building construction noises? How about the bag lady on the corner throwing cats? There is quite a bit lacking in the audio department. Sure, good voice work but there is a lot more in a big city than that and it should have been represented.

I believe that the greatest challenge that the developer had with Spider-Man 3 was with the controls. There is SO much to do like web-slinging, swinging low or high, finishing the swing strong, and so much more. Then there are the fighting controls, not only hitting and kicking but jumping and slinging some web on the villain, pick him/her up and kick and hit them, and again SO much more. On the PC you have the mouse and LOTS of keyboard buttons to use and no small number of combinations. Ultimately I found it very awkward and difficult to control and it will take the average user quite some time to get used to the control scheme. I found myself plugging in a USB Xbox 360 controller in order to make the control more manageable.

The other problem I have with Spider-Man 3 is that though some of the missions are interesting, many are just not much fun. There was a lot of the same old repetitive button-mashing that we have seen over and over again. Some of the mission’s objectives seem to have left me flat as they weren’t deep enough while others were much too much fighting the same characters over and over again. Yes, I liked some of the effects like the slow-motion effect but it really didn’t do enough to make it incredibly interesting for me and I lost interest more quickly than most games. And even the big boss battles didn’t seem much different than all of the rest of the battles.

Overall, Spider-Man 3 The Game has its strong points in the graphic department mostly, but the audio, controls and missions let me down. Though there are 42 missions, you sometimes seemed to be doing the same dozen over again with slightly different villains. The game failed to hold my less-limited attention span so I have my doubts that it will hold the attention of most 14-year-olds for very long. Sure the DS and PSP versions might keep them going on a long car trip across Kansas where there is absolutely NOTHING else to do but I don’t see much hope for this title beyond that.

I also enjoyed the freedom of simply swinging around the city looking for trouble but as you might understand, that will also get pretty old pretty quick. So there really is not much replay-ability in Spider-Man 3. So I would suggest that this title might be a fun way to kill an hour on a rainy afternoon, it is in no way going to keep many enchanted for a long period of time.

Final Score (#/10): 6.3

The Good: Graphics are fairly nice and swinging around the city of New York looking for trouble was pretty fun too, and add to that some nice voice-acting.
The Bad: Thin sound, tough controls that basically turn into key/button-mashing, many of the missions look the same, and replay-ability is extremely limited.