Spider-Man has been saving the innocent since 1962, but only recently has he received such fame for his daily activities. The superhero, which will now no doubt be of at least 63 years of age, is soon to star in his third film. Thankfully he took time out of his busy schedule to help Treyarch develop a game to be released alongside the film. Let’s find out how the game fares.
The game jumps straight into the action, starting off inside a burning building in which you must escape. Here is where you will learn all the basics, from controls to combat. The learning curve for getting to grips with the high sensitivity of the controls and the camera can take some time to get used to, but after an hour or so you should be tearing through terror like the real deal.
The controls, being very sensitive, will require precision to control Spidey at his best. However after an hour you will soon realise that given the task of bringing superhero powers to gamer’s palms, the developers have done a great job. Only in tight areas do the controls (and often the camera) become a problem, but out in the open where most of the action takes place, you will soon find that anything is possible.
Any fan of the previous installments of Spider-Man will instantly remember the horrific combat system. Thankfully this has clearly been noticed and fixed, as the combat now feels far more fluid and reactive, allowing for a string of combo’s to easily be used and mixed. To begin with Spider-Man has few abilities, however as time passes you will unlock plenty of devastating attacks and abilities that can easily be stringed together by a few button presses. Thanks to the great targeting system, excellent both on land and in mid-air, taking down enemies is now an enjoyable experience as intended instead of pure frustration.
When you finally do step into the outside world, free of the tutorials, what is it you want to do? Yes, that’s right. Climb to the top of the highest skyscraper in town and leap, falling fast towards the ground only to save yourself at the last second. The one thing that will always be enjoyable, no matter what the player, is swinging from building to building with speed and grace. Thankfully Spider-Man 3 provides a large, highly detailed world in which to do this in. The world may not be unique or varied, most of the time you will be climbing similar looking buildings and swinging by the same cars; but when you are going this fast, who cares? The game has the appearance you would expect from watching the movies or reading the comics, creating a realistic enough representation of a Spider-Man’s New York.
Obviously the game would not get far if it relied on only web swinging, so let’s move onto the features. The game features a large array of activities ranging from the storyline missions, races, crime fighting, skydiving, bomb defusing and the many other typical daily activities of the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. The main part of the game resolves around the storyline, which instead of following one single story it branches off to contain many of the popular nemesis’s of the comics and of which feature in the new film. Whilst the branched storyline works great, clearly leading up to a climactic ending, it is a shame that it’s only 42, short missions long. To give you an idea of the length of the complete storyline, expect to complete it within fifteen hours at most.
Each mission usually follows a repeated pattern of stages. The most common of which you will have the typical “Take out the trash” where you simply beat off an ongoing assault of enemies. These enemies rarely range in difficulty or abilities, leaving you to simply beat them down and move on. Of course there will be traveling, in which you are required to get from point A to point B. Often you will have given tasks such as defusing a bomb, where you must actually take the bomb apart completing a set of refreshing mini-games at each step. Lastly there are the boss confrontations that require more skill, reflexes and puzzle solving in order to find the enemies weakness. As it sounds, this could be very repetitive and mundane if it wasn’t for the fact that Treyarch did such a great job at making it extremely enjoyable to be a super hero. Expect some aspects to drag after several occurrences; the best remedy would be to try a different activity.
A welcome feature to the game is real-time cut-scene reactions, in which you are given literally a few split seconds to react to a button press (displayed on the screen) before you are laying on your back like a dead little spider. These sections could become extremely tedious if it wasn’t for a fantastic checkpoint system that constantly saves at each aspect of a mission, allowing you to start off from the last change in gameplay in case the worst should happen.
One annoyance with the overall game is the Artificial Intelligence, in which the enemies are clearly lacking any. You will often see enemies perform erratic actions, get stuck inside buildings (this is an often occurrence of crime fighting activities) and often do little to prevent themselves from getting a good beating. This can also be said for some of the nemeses in the game, which can easily be beaten by overlooked strategies (one particular boss can be circled and hit faster than he can actually turn).
Graphically the game is fantastic. This became apparent as a trip to the top of the highest skyscraper gave a fantastic view, with the considerable draw distance showing the traffic in the far off distance still visible. The games overall presentation is great having good lighting, great day-to-night effects and some of the best particle effects to be seen on the Xbox 360.
The games sound and audio provides a nice bonus, bringing you deeper into the atmosphere with good sound effects for every location–from car stereos to the wind as you web through the air. One particular highlight for the game is the opera music that plays when you do the skydiving activities, a fantastic little addition that goes perfectly with a freefall from the clouds. It would have been nice to hear more from the civilians of the world, as you expect a little bit of attention walking around in a bright red suit, but get near to nothing.
Overall I would highly recommend Spider-Man 3 to any fans of the previous installments and to the general fans of the action free-roam genre. The game can easily satisfy 20 hours of gaming pleasure for the majority of the population as simply, nothing beats complete freedom in a large-scale world–with superpowers!